Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Moscow Doesn’t Trust Military Officers from North Caucasus for Most Senior Positions

Paul Goble

            Staunton, January 15 – In the Soviet military, racism was far from absent, but some officers from the North Caucasus nonetheless made brilliant careers and rose to the highest positions. Among these was Dzhokhar Dudayev, a major general in the Soviet air force, commander of the Tartu garrison, and hero of Soviet operations in Afghanistan.

            But now, both because of Dudayev’s breaking with the Soviets and then the Russians to lead the Republic of Ichkeria and because internationalism is less highly valued among Russian officers now, Russian officers feel far freer to express their distrust of officers from the North Caucasus and rarely if ever appoint them to the most senior jobs.

            The appointment of Maj. Gen. Rustam Muradov to the post of deputy commander of the Southern Military District “is not a unique case,” the Kavkaz-Uzel portal says; but it is so rare that it is the exception that proves the rule: Experts say Moscow doesn’t trust North Caucasians for the highest jobs in the federal force structures (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/330308/).

                A major reason that he is an exception almost certainly lies in the fact that despite being an ethnic Tabasaran from Daghestan, he fought on Moscow’s side in both post-Soviet Chechen wars and participated in the seizure of Maskhadov’s staff in 2000, an operation that was led by Maj. Gen. Vladimir Shamanov. (For a full bio of Muradov, see kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/330303/.)

                Former Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov says that one rarely meets officers of North Caucasus nationality at the most senior positions in either the special services or the army. They may rise to the position of deputy commander on the basis of the professional and demonstrated loyalty but not to independent commands.

            Muradov thus has probably risen as far as he can, to be deputy commander of the Southern Federal District. His boss will be glad to have his expertise on the local situation; but Moscow isn’t going to trust him with anything more senior or more independent, Gudkov suggests.

            Other experts with whom Kavkaz-Uzel spoke agree.  Sergey Goncharov, head of the Alpha Anti-Terror Veterans Organization, said it was useful to have the expertise of local people in advisory positions.  And Aleksandr Perendzhiyev of the Experts Council of Veterans of Russia said Moscow won’t entrust the highest posts to an officer from the North Caucasus.

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