Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Daghestanis Fear Influx of New Troops Will Only Make Their Situation Worse

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 21 – Daghestani are frightened that the transfer of additional troops into their republic from Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus Federal District will not end the violence they now face but instead exacerbate tensions to the point that they may face a full-scale war in the near future.

            In a post on the portal, Makhachkala journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev says that such worries have grown in recent days following the announcement of Chechen officials that the troops that had been maintaining roadblocks there will be sent to Daghestan where new roadblocks will be set up (

Moreover, there are reports in the republic media that an extra 600 to 700 uniformed personnel from Russian internal troops and military units are to be sent to Daghestan as well, although local officials say that they have not yet received written confirmation of those Russian plans.

But residents of Daghestan have no doubts, Akhmednabiyev says, “do not believe the assurances of the local authorities and are certain that the situation in the region as a result of the redisposition of additional forces will become still worse.” They believe, he continues, that only the “naïve” would say that roadblocks will improve matters.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov insisted on having the roadblocks in his republic removed because they made outside investors less willing to put money into projects there, and it is “sad that Makhachkala is not concerned about its image” in the same way, people in Makhachkala say.

Daghestani lawyer Gazimagomed Khiriyev points that that “the leadership of Daghestan will not control such force structure personnel” and that the latter will act badly, “kidnapping, torturing and killing citizens” without any reaction from republic officials.  Instead, the latter will blame Moscow but do nothing.
Another republic lawyer, Ziyavdin Uvaysov, suggests that the influx of troops will cause particular problems for Muslims, “especially those who follow all the provisions of the religion” and thus stand apart in ways that make them targets for troops “coming from other regions and not knowing the traditions of Daghestan” and hence inclined to treat them as “enemies.”

Denga Khalidov, a local political analyst, agrees, saying that with force alone will “only make the situation worse.”  Moscow needs a new and well-thought-out policy, one that focuses on the struggle with “corruption, clan arrangements and the unprofessionalism of the republic authorities.”

It is particularly important, he adds, that “the federal information resources stop making Daghestanis into monsters.” In short, what is needed is “good sense rather than fists,” but it appears that “’the hawks’ are winning in Moscow now and that they want to provoke a war in the region.”

But another local political scientist, Magomed Magomedov, says that he understands Moscow’s concerns. “Daghestan is a strategically important region bordering a number of foreign countries. “The ‘Arab spring,’ tensions around Iran, the situation in Georgia, Azerbaijan, make it necessary to react adequately and therefore increase the presence of forces in Daghestan,” adding that “we should not forget either about the Winter Olympics in Sochi.”

Daghestanis are acting on their concerns, the journalist says. Those who can afford to do so are buying houses in Western Europe, Arab countries or even Russia, and those without such means are building housing in rural parts of the republic and planning to move there in the near future.

There are already a large number of Russian military personnel in Daghestan. Republic Interior Ministry Abdurashid Magomedov said last week that there are about 20,000 under his ministry alone. In addition there are 10,000 troops in three Russian Internal Troops units, 1500 FSB personnel, as well as 25,000 army troops for a total of “about 57,000” under arms.

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