Friday, June 23, 2017

Kremlin Aide Lists Moscow’s Five Biggest Concerns in North Caucasus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 23 – Magomedsalam Magomedov, the former head of Daghestan who is now deputy head of the Russian Presidential Administration, told the leaders of the republics in the North Caucasus that Moscow currently has five major concerns about developments in their region that they must address.

            In remarks to the annual conference in Pyatigorsk yesterday on the carrying out of the government’s nationality policy in the region, the Kremlin official listed the following five tasks that he said should be “in the center of their attention” in the coming months (  

1.      Imposing control on migration processes not only between the region and the rest of Russia but between mountainous rural areas and the region’s major cities.

2.      Blocking radicalism both religious and ethnic.

3.      Ensuring a “balanced” language policy, something that would involve both promoting Russian while avoiding a full-scale attack on the languages of the indigenous nationalities.

4.      Promoting the agro-industrial sector in such a way that its development will not harm the traditional farming practices of the population.

5.      And overcoming “’old’ inter-ethnic conflicts and territorial disputes.”

None of these are new, but two aspects of Magomedov’s remarks are worthy of note. On the one hand, he gave equal attention to ethnic and religious radicalism, a shift away from Moscow’s recent insistence that its problems in the North Caucasus are almost exclusively the result of an Islamist threat.

And on the other, his reference to territorial disputes suggests Moscow is more worried about challenges to existing borders than it has let on, challenges that threaten to destabilize and possibly disintegrate Daghestan and to lead to a redrawing of republic borders especially in the western part of the region.

As one would expect, Magomedov celebrated the fact that Russians in the country as a whole are more upbeat about inter-ethnic problems now than they have been, with only 14 percent saying that clashes are imminent in their regions. But in the North Caucasus, he pointed out, those fearful of the future in this sector are considerably more, “almost 24 percent.”

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