Friday, October 19, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Grozny Restores Two Chechen Districts Disbanded after 1944 Deportation

Paul Goble

            Staunton, October 19 – The Chechen parliament yesterday restored two districts that had been suppressed by the Soviets in 1944 after the deportation of Chechens to Central Asia and whose territories, although not subseuquently given their old official status, were largely off limits to Chechens who returned from exile later.

            The re-establishment of the Cheberloy and Galanchozh rayons brings the number of districts in that republic to 17 and, in the view of many local residents represents “the restoration of historical justice,” according to a report on the news portal (

            But while that is undoubtedly true, this Chechen step is lightly to spark demands by other victims of the Soviet deportation for the restoration of other districts suppressed by Moscow in 1944. And because of the close linkage between official territories, property, and ethnicity, this Chechen move is likely to exacerbate tensions across the North Caucasus.

            The two “new-old” districts were set up in 1925. After they were disbanded, the Cheberloy district was transferred to Daghestan where it became part of that republic’s Botlikh district. Then, in 1957, its territory was shifted back to Daghestan where it was divided between the Shatoy and Itum-Kalin districts.

            The Galanchozh district, the portal notes, includes the village of Yalkhor whose most famous son was Chechen-Ichkeria President Dzhokhar Dudayev. “Local residents,” it continues, “received the news about the restoration of these earlier suppressed districts, but observers are talking about the troubles which will be connected with this.”

            One of the residents, identified as Isa T., said that after returning from deportation in 1957, “his parents attempted to return to the place of their former residence, but they like other residents of the [two now restored] districts were prohibited from settling in these locations.” In fact, these districts were practically closed” altogether.

            This appears to have been connected, he added with the fact that “the Soviet leadership was concerned that there would again appear in the mountains dissatisfied people who with arms in their hands would oppose the power that be.”

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