Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Grozny Steps Up Criticism of Makhachkala for Its Treatment of Daghestan’s Chechens

Paul Goble

            Staunton, December 4 – Buvaysar Saytiyev, Chechnya’s representative in the Russian Duma, has sharply criticized the leadership of Daghestan for “ignoring” the problems of the Chechen community in that republic and failing, even under the new republic head, to do anything significant to restore the Aukhov District the Chechens want.

            His words have been overshadowed by the dispute over the border accord between Ingushetia’s Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov; but in fact, observers in the region note, they have become possible thanks to the way in which that dispute has evolved (capost.media/special/obzory/deputat_gosdumy_ot_chechni_buvaysar_saytiev_raskritikoval_rukovodstvo_dagestan_za_ignorirovanie_chech/).

            That is because if administrative borders between republics begin to be changed, then the issue of administrative borders within republics becomes even more important lest the failure to address them leads to demands for changes in the demarcation lines between federal subjects in the North Caucasus and possibly elsewhere as well.

            Saytiyev has a history of speaking out about the need to restore the Aukhov District in Daghestan, from which “in 1944, Stalin deported 15,000 Chechen-Akkintsy” and in whose place were resettled Laks and Azars from highland regions of the Kulin and Lak Districts of Daghestan.

            As long ago as 1991, the Daghestani authorities announced that they would restore the Aukhov District “as a zone for the compact settlement of the Chechen-Akkintsy but up to now, this decision has not been carried out.” And as a result, “at the border of Chechnya and Daghestan, there have been frequent fights” between members of these ethnic groups.

            Saytiyev has been one of the Chechen officials dispatched to try to calm things down, but what he has achieved in that regard appears largely to have been as a result of his promises to push Makhachkala to keep its promises. Now, it seems, he no longer believes that Makhachkala will do anything unless he raises the stakes by speaking out more publicly.

            Daghestani officials accept that “sooner or later” the Aukhov District will have to be restored; but they are still at a loss how and where to move the Laks and Avars who have lived there since World War II.  And their problems in that regard have been compounded by corruption at the top of the resettlement administration they set up.

            Apparently, Saytiyev, and Kadyrov behind him, have decided that they have had enough of closed-door politics and that they will achieve more by raising this issue in the streets. They may be correct, but the price of doing so may be new ethnic clashes in Daghestan and greater instability there and in nearby republics as well.

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