Monday, November 12, 2012

Window on Eurasia: Young Daghestanis Now Bribing Their Way into the Russian Army, Magomedov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 12 – Unlike in many Russian regions where young men are giving bribes to avoid military service, Daghestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov says, young Daghestanis are paying bribes to get residence permits in other regions so that they can be drafted, given that Moscow has cut the draft quota from 15-20,000 to 179 this fall.

            In a wide-ranging interview published in today’s “Izvestiya,” Magomedov said that Daghestanis want to serve and that there will be ever more of them “as a result of the high birthrates in the republic”  That makes the falling draft quota there “a real problem,” the Daghestani leader stresses (

            He admitted that there have been problems with some Daghestani draftees, problems that Moscow invoked as an explanation for cutting back in their number. But Magomedov said, “Daghestanis don’t like to wash floors; this is not in our traditions,” although he added that Makhachkala has invested in pre-induction training to remind young men of their duties.

And in an apparent explanation of the timing of this interview, the Daghestani president said that he had spoken with former Russian defense minister Anatoly Serdyukov about this without success but that he very much hopes that his replacement, Sergey Shoygu, “will review this issue” in Daghestan’s favor.
            In his interview, Magomedov made five other comments worthy of note.  He said that Daghestan continues to need federal support but that the share of the budget consisting of transfer payments from Moscow has fallen to 70 percent. Even so, Daghestan spends less than half per capita what other federal subjects do, 24,000 rubles against 53,000.

            Second, he said he was working hard to help Daghestanis in Moscow adapt to local conditions by asking Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin to provide space for a cultural center for people from his republic and by helping to draft a “Code of Behavior for a Daghestani in Moscow.

But Magomedov added that he thinks Muscovites ought to have a similar document prepared to guide them in their relations with migrants.  “It wouldn’t harm some Muscovites” to be told that they should not see Daghestanis or others from the Caucasus and Central Asia as their enemies.

Third, the Daghestani president said that he favors the creation of special media rules to ensure that coverage doesn’t spark ethnic enmity but rather promotes ethnic cooperation. Doing so won’t be easy, he suggested, but “it won’t hurt” at least to try to come up with some rules of the game.

Fourth, he acknowledged that Makhachkala has created special self-defense squads for the struggle against terrorism.  “It is impossible to struggle with terrorism or extremism only with the forces of the FSB or MVD,” he said, adding that the druzhinniki are “not armed formations; they do not even have arms.” But they nonetheless work closely with the police.

And fifth, Magomedov said he supports the creation of a nationality affairs ministry in Moscow. Daghestan has had one for 20 years. He suggested that it would also be useful to create a plenipotentiary representative on this issue attached to the office of the president because “questions of nationality policy” must be addressed not just by the national minorities but by “representatives of the [ethnic] Russian people” as well.

In a related development concerning that increasingly lively issue, Valentina Matviyenko, the speaker of the Federation Council, called for the creation of a committee on nationality affairs to be attached to the Government of the Russian Federation, “Rossiiskaya gazeta” reported (

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