Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Stavropol Kray Already ‘a Russian Kosovo,’ Residents Tell Moscow Journalist

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 16 – Igor Karmazin, a correspondent for “Moskovsky komsomolets,” says that Krasnopol Kray is “on the bring of a major inter-ethnic conflict, the economic situation there is horrifying, the exodus of the local population is intensifying and local residents themselves now call their region a Russian Kosovo.”

            On the basis of a recent visit to the kray and especially its outlying areas, the Moscow journalist says that “Stavropol Kray is the most ordinary region of the country but it borders with the unusual – Daghestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia. There, everything is anomalous – birthrates, crime, government assistance” (

            And that situation, he continues, raises the question: how can regions so different “coexist” in the framework of the North Caucasus Federal District?”

            Stavropol’s residents of a few decades ago have been “voting with their feet – the outflow of the Russian-speaking population from Starvopool and largely from its eastern districts, is colossal. One can say,” he adds, “that over the course of five to ten years, the region has changed its face in a significant way.”

            “There are two main causes: migration pressure and economic problems.” That sounds paradoxical, but it isn’t because “on one and the same territory, local residents can scarely make ends meet, but those who have come from the national republics are flourishing.”  The first live in poverty; the second in relative luxury.

            Karmazin says that “the steppe from Stavropol to Saratov is slowly but surely being Islamicized” and already it is the case that there are “enclaves” across this area which are entirely “outside of the legal field of the Russian Federation.”  There is corruption, and there is even slavery.

            One local resident, Yevgeny Boyarsky, who heads the New Force social movement, says that he remembers Grozny where he was born in the late 1980s and early 1990s. “Then we saw an explosive growth of nationalism. Out of the republic fled up to 300,000 people, thousands of Russians speakers were killed even before the beginning of the first Chechen war.”

            He says that in his opinion, the situation in Stavropol kray “is now at the brink of that Chechen situation.”

            Yury Yefimov, a political scientist at Stavropol’s State Agricultural University, agrees and goes further: In his view, Stavropol is on its wy to becoming “a Russian Kosovo” because the Russians aren’t reproducing themselves and are leaving while the non-Russians are growing rapidly and arriving in large numbers.

            “Migration processes,” he continues, “play into the hands of the Caucasus ethnoses. If earlier there was an enormous flood of ethnic Russians from the national republics, now, this has exhausted itself: all who could have already left.” And the consequences of this pattern is “the especially difficult situation in the eastern portion of the kray.”

            In many villages and districts, the non-Russians now outnumber the Russians, often significantly, and when that tipping point is reached, Russian flight accelerates and the influx of non-Russians increases as well.

            There is a deeper reason for this shift than many may think, Yefimov says. Russians remain focused on the state to take care of them while the non-Russians only need land to make a profit and to live well. Given the weakness of the state, the Russians feel themselves cast adrift; but the non-Russians think that this gives them the space to act as they want.

            Karmazin says that he concluded his visit “with mixed feelings” but with a deepened understanding that only those nations whose members are prepared to act on their own rather than wait for or depend on the state have a future in the region. At present, the Russians are not among those that do.

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