Monday, June 19, 2017

Having Provoked the Nogay, Makhachkala has Opened the Way to the Demise of Daghestan

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 16 – The authorities in Makhachkala by a series of illegal actions have provoked the Nogay to demand that Moscow enforce the law in their region and to consider copying the Crimean Tatar tactic of a generation ago by opening a tent city in Red Square to force the Kremlin’s hand.

            To the extent the Nogay carry out their threats and attract Moscow’s attention, they will likely open the way to the disintegration of Daghestan, the most ethnically diverse and Muslim republic in the Russian Federation, Mikail Tyobenavullu says, but any blame for that outcome falls on Makhchkala not the Nogay (

            The 100,000 Turkic Nogay have long been unhappy with the way in which Makhachkala has acted toward them, ignoring their interests and corruptly helping other groups to occupy their lands; but they have been provoked into almost open revolt by the Daghestani authorities’ decisions to do so under the cover of Ramadan.

            Makhachkala clearly believes, the Caucasus Times commentator says, that Moscow will allow it do anything it wants as long as there is no revolt. But the Nogay, by presenting themselves in the role of defenders of Russian law against arbitrariness, have put the center in a difficult position.

            If it defends Makhachkala, then everyone and not just the Nogay will see that law is irrelevant, sending an explosive message to a variety of groups. But if it defends the Nogay, it is difficult to see how “Daghestanism,” the idea of a multi-ethnic republic, or even that republic itself can long survive given how its dominant ethnic groups have behaved toward others.

            In recent weeks, the Nogays have taken two steps to press their legal case: they have organized a roundtable in Moscow in the hopes of attracting the attention of the central media, and they have assembled a 6,000-strong congress uniting the Nogay not only of Daghestan but of neighboring regions of the North Caucasus to demand the Kremlin intervene on their behalf.

            The number of people at the meeting, who held up Nogay, Russian and family flags but not a single Daghestani one responded “a disciplined column rather than just the ordinary residents of the southern portion of the country,” Tyobenavullu says.  Clearly, he says, “’Daghestanism’ as an idea is coming apart at the seams.”

            Some Nogays and others in the republic are still afraid to talk about their rights, but others see this as the only defense they have against Makhachkala. And the idea that they should speak up now before corrupt groups in the republic capital trample on their rights is spreading, he says, an indication that the Nogay upsurge is a symptom rather than an isolated event.

            In Russia today, the Caucasus Times writer continues, people are “accustomed to simulate instead of observe the laws” because those who ignore them are the ones who have power.  But the Nogay now have come to feel that they are “the people of the state” and to view those in Makhachkala as the illegal interlopers. 

            That is a big change and means that the Nogay are about to change and quite possibly end Daghestan, setting in train a series of unpredictable events that will destabilize the situation in the North Caucasus more than any event of the last decade or more. 

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