Sunday, February 3, 2019

Daghestanis Fear They’ll Lose Land to Chechnya but Won’t Protest as Ingush Have, ‘Novoye Delo’ Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 3 – Daghestani officials swear that they will not give up any territory to Chechnya, but enough information has leaked out from the border demarcation commission that many Daghestanis expect that they will lose several thousand hectares of land along the Chechen border, something that they find intolerable.

            But as angry as they are, Shamil Akhmedov, a commentator for Makhachkala’s Novoye delo newspaper, says, they are highly unlikely to protest in the way that the Ingush did after Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and Ramzan Kadyrov arranged for nearly 30,000 hectares of Ingush land to be transferred to Chechen control (

            “Alas,” the commentator says, Daghestani society is too ridden by internal divisions, ethnic and territorial, for any united protest movement to take off or if it began to be sustained for very long.  That sets it apart from Ingushetia, a mono-ethnic region “with strong ethnic identity” that is not undermined by nationalism or religious differences.

            The only thing uniting the Daghestanis against such a land grab by the Chechen state is the fear that they will be viewed as traitors to the nation by the next generation. That fear, however, is as yet insufficient to overcome the divisions among Sufi groups, ethnic communities, and regions.

            Most Daghestanis hope that Vladimir Vasiliyev, the republic head, has not only the influence in Moscow to prevent large amounts of the republic’s territory to be lost  but enough concern about his historical reputation that he will not want to “go down in history” as the man who sold out the republic. 

            Vasiliiyev recently told Novoye delo that there are disputes about only three to five percent of the border with Chechnya, that most are small, and that the views of residents will be considered in every case. There will not be any blanket handing over of land to Chechnya, whatever Grozny may expect.

            “My principle,” the republic head said, “is not to hurry. If there are doubts about what to do, it is better to wait.” That is a good policy, Akhmedov says, and it is undoubtedly prompted by what Vasiliyev has seen happen in Ingushetia. The man in Makhachkala certainly does not want a repetition in Daghestan and won’t risk doing anything that might provoke it.

            That at least is what Akhmedov and probably most Daghestanis hope. 

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