Sunday, May 5, 2013

Window on Eurasia: Daghestanis Want a Kadyrov-Type Leader for Their Republic, Study Finds

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 5 – Daghestanis say that Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov represents “the ideal ruler” that they would like to have in their own republic because such a leader through toughness and tight central control overcome the corruption and terrorism they face, according to the results of a new sociological study.

                Sociologists from the Center for the Research of Global Issues and Regional Problems conducted a three-month-long study in Daghestan about the hopes and expectations of new leaders in that republic.  Their findings were released and discussed at a Makhachkala roundtable at the end of April (

            Saida Sirazhudinova, the president of the center, said that Daghestanis “are waiting for ‘fundamental and radical’ changes, said that older residents said that corruption was the largest problem while younger ones pointed to terrorism as the worst feature of live in their republic.  Both groups mentioned unemployment and clan-control, and many hope for democratization and modernization.

            When asked what the republic’s leadership should do, those polled called for “harshness, control, strong central power and a strong president, the creation of jobs, combined efforts, a struggle with terrorism and extremism, and the rule of law,” Sirazhudinova said.

             She noted that many respondents had an extremely high opinion of the way in which Ramzan Kadyrov was running Chechnya. Indeed, the sociologist said, many pointed to him as “an example of an ideal ruler” for their republic and “as an example for the stabilization of a complicated situation.”

            Sirazhudinova noted in an aside that sociologists working in Ingushetia in 2007 found that “the Ingush people also expressed delight with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov for his personal qualities and contacts with the population.” Given rising tensions between Ingushetia and Chechnya now, it is unlikely that he would get a similar rating there today.

            Daghestanis also told the sociologists that they wanted to see the formation of civil society, although closer examination of their answers showed that there are fundamental disagreements about what civil society is.  The residents of Daghestan see it as something positive even if they are uncertain about what it would entail.

            She noted that Daghestani society is undergoing a process of re-traditionalization, a rend that means people there are ever more inclined to support the restoration in public life of “the traditional norms of adat and shariat d collective and collegial forms of the organization of the institutions of state power.”

            What that in turn means, another sociologist said, is that they would like to see “a harsh restoration of order” not by means of “an authoritarian personality but through collegial representation” in government institutions, something that can be ensured only by the representation of all nations in those institutions.

            A third sociologist, Madina Aligardzhiyeva, said that the desire for such representation is difficult to achieve in Daghestan because there is no one dominant nation or nationality. Consequently, she suggested that it would be a good thing if Daghestanis stopped dividing themselves along ethnic lines and focused instead on territorial units.

            In the discussion that followed their presentations, members of the audience called for increasing dialogue between the authorities and the population, and the sociologists suggested that it would be useful to conduct similar studies about what the population expects in other republics of the North Caucasus and elsewhere in the Russian Federation.

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