Monday, August 8, 2016

Daghestanis Leaving Stavropol Just as Russians Are, Local Activist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 8 – One of the constant themes of Russian nationalist discourse is that North Caucasians with their exploding populations are flooding into traditionally Russian regions adjoining their homelands.  But the reality is very different: In the current economic environment, Daghestanis are leaving Stavropol almost as fast as Russians are.

            Ali Abdurashidov, an ethnic Dargin who heads the Daghestani regional organization in a Stavropol district, says that there is “no ‘Daghestanization’ of Stavropol” as some support because the Daghestanis who have been living there, sometimes for decades, are leaving just as Russians (

            But that doesn’t mean that their share of the population of the Russian region is declining, he says, because most of them have far more children and grandchildren than Russians do; and these offspring, well-integrated into the local economy, remain behind.  But that is not the same thing as the influx Russians talk about, Abdurashidov says.

            He told Svetlana Bolotnikova of “Kavkazskaya politika” that the increase in the share of Daghestanis in the Stavropol region is entirely natural. “A Russian grandmother is glad to have three to six grandchildren, while her Daghestani counterpart has ten to twelve, “and sometimes many  more. One he knows has 44 grandchildren.

            But the notion that Daghestanis are flooding the region is “a myth created by Governor Valery Gayevsky and pseudo-scholars who seek political points for their publications. The overwhelming majority of Daghestanis in Stavropol” have been there for several generations. Most are integrated but those without jobs are leaving for Moscow rather than their homeland.

            Daghestanis, most of whom are involved in agriculture, came to Stavropol beginning in the 1960s because there was more land available there. But conflicts over land have intensified in the Russian region in recent years as urban industry has failed and more Russians are remaining on the land. Now, the situation with regard to land in Stavropol kray is “explosive.”

            But the Daghestanis of Stavropol are losing one of their most important links to their homeland: they are no longer sending their children home in the summer to learn their native languages, Abdurashidov says, because now, even most of the elderly in their villages speak Russian. As a result, ethnic identities are gradually giving way to religious ones.

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