Monday, March 4, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Moscow’s Man in Makachkala Says Officials a Graver Threat to Daghestanis than are Militants

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 4 – Ramazan Abdulatipov, the new head of Daghestan installed at the Kremlin’s insistence, said last week that the residents of his republic are suffering more because of the actions of law enforcement organs and bureaucrats than they are from the actions of militants and that religious teachings must shape the formation of the government.

            Such statements, as Abdulatpov himself noted, have applicability to more of the Russian Federation than just Daghestan, and consequently, they are an indication that he seeks to play a broader role in the country in much the same way that Tatarstan’s former president Mintimir Shaymiyev did earlier. They thus merit the closest attention.

            On Thursday, Abdulatipov said that “the main and most surprising thing” he had encountered in his new post was that “an individual is suffering from the actions of those who are charged by the state with the defense of his rights and freedoms,” the silovii and the bureaucrats (

            It is completely “impermissible,” he continue, that a situation can exist “when the MVD, SK and procuracy violate the rights of people and do not respond either to their appeals or even to those of the authorities.” And he suggested that such official misbehavior was the reason that “residents are becoming militants” and going into the forests to fight the state.

            Many analysts and commentators have made the same point in the past, but it is striking that this analysis is coming out of the mouth of a man whom Russian President Vladimir Putin chose for this position and that Abdulatipov’s words are receiving the attention that they are getting in the Moscow media.

            But a second Abdulatipov comment, this one on Friday to the members of the Russian Presidential Council for Work with Religious Organizations, may generate even more comment not only because of what it says about the Daghestan leaders plans for his republic but also because of what it suggests at least some in Moscow are now thinking about as well.

            The Daghestan leader told the group that “religious doctrines help support the formation of the state and civilization. Religions play an enormous role in this regard, and it is necessary to explain that to people” not only in his republic but throughout the Russian Federation (
            He further insisted that “faith is a constituent part of society, including a civil society,” adding that “we cannot separate believers from the state,” even if we do separate the church from the state. And consequently, everything must be done so that “the enlightenment activity of our confessions will be felt more strongly in the development of society and of Russia as a whole.”

            Many opportunities for that, Abdulatipov argued, “have been missed,” undermining inter-religious accord and driving many believers into opposition to the state because the state has not always recognized this principle.  Today, he said, the task of government must be “to explain this to people.”

            Abdulatipov then said that he frequently “repeats that a state is established not in order to establish heaven on earth but so that there won’t be hell there.”  Its first duty is to establish order, and he warned that “if people block roads or set up tent cities, that will mean that they don’t want resolutions of [their] problems and that [he, Abdulatipov] will be forced to put off these issues until the situation has been stabilized.”

            He concluded his remarks with the following most intriguing observation: Daghestanis “do not exaggerate their role, but perhaps we are identifying tasks which have an all-Russian importance because we are part of Russia. The whole is more than the parts but in essence they interact in one system and each of us must feel himself a part of the that whole.”

            And “the whole must understand that here is a part of it,” and it must understand that many people in his republic have no choice but to go “’into the forest’ if no one needs him and if others insult him.” 

            At the present time, Abdulatipov observed, “there is everything in Makhachkala,” the republic capital, but “no space for the individual remains.  Each wants to feel himself worthy and significant. But if this does not happen, he will feel themselves insulted and such a person is very dangerous” not only for Daghestan but for Russia as a whole.

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