Staunton, July 25 – Fearful that the Muslim-led People against Corruption Party could defeat the party of power in Daghestani elections, Ramazan Abdulatipov, head of that republic, has used increasingly harsh administrative measures and threats to force first individual candidates of that party and then the party as a whole to withdraw from the elections.
Last week, as a result of this pressure, several candidates from the party dropped out, but party leaders pledged to continue even though former officials warned theme that “there are definite forces and people who want by any means to discredit the new party” (chernovik.net/content/politika/vsyo-po-planu).
That infuriated many of the party’s supporters who said tens of thousands of them would go into the streets to protest; but fearing what that might lead to, party leaders two days later decided to pull all their candidates out of the election and to send an open letter to Moscow complaining about what has been going on in that North Caucasus republic. The statement is at facebook.com/npkdagestan/photos/a.1151709224861059.1073741827.1151606224871359/1230886380276676/?type=3&theater.
Its key points are as follows:
· “We, the representatives and candidates of the People against Corruption Party, have encountered manifestations of administrative pressure which in own opinion are possible only with the agreement of the head of the Republic of Daghestan.”
· “These unjust methods of struggle have reached the level of the use of force” against its candidates.
· “Despite the emotions and the Daghestani temperament … we soberly following consultations have decided not to use the people in such issues as an instrument of pressure” in response. Further, the appeal said, it is clear that Moscow has decided to reappoint Abdulatipov as head of the republic.
· “Therefore, we have taken the decision to avoid further conflict and to pull the People against Corruption Party and our candidates from the elections” to the republic parliament.
· “In the history of Daghestan, never before has the entire power of the state been directed against a political force.”
Abdulatipov and his government have also used administrative and force measures against candidates from the Rodina party, and it has also issued an open statement, although it has not yet withdrawn from the race, “Chernovik” reports. But that suggests, the paper continues, that while the names in the parliament may change, the balance of forces will not.
However, although the paper does not say this, there will be one major change and it may matter more than the managed election that Abdulatipov, with Moscow’s backing, is staging. And it is this: there will be large numbers of Daghestanis who will feel they have been excluded from the political process.
Some of them may go into the streets to protest, but others may go into the forests to fight. To the extent they do either, the tactical victory of Abdulatipov and the Kremlin may turn out into a major strategic defeat, one that will challenge the ability of both to maintain even the semblance of control over the eastern portion of the North Caucasus.