Sunday, March 3, 2019

Only 28 Percent of Borders of Federal Subjects have Been Officially Registered with Moscow

Paul Goble

            Staunton, March 2 – The Russian State Land Registry says only 28 percent of the borders of the country’s federal subjects have been registered with Moscow as required by a decision late last year, an indication that the process of demarcation and delimitation that the central authorities have called for may cause more problems in the future.

            The border between Chechnya and Ingushetia established by the September 26 agreement between Ramzan Kadyrov and Yunus-Bek Yevkurov that caused mass demonstrations and is now the subject of various legal challenges is one of them, an indication that even if borders are registered, they may not be accepted (

            One of the consequences of the protests in Ingushetia is that many people elsewhere are suspicious that something similar will happen to them and are mobilizing to ensure that does not happen. In Daghestan, after initially refusing to open up the process, Makhachala is now going to great lengths to do just that.

            While the republic government is still refusing to appoint public members to the border commission, it has taken three steps to try to mollify people and limit their fears of a sell-out. First, it has dispatched representatives of the commission to border regions to explain what is happening (

                Second, it has allowed journalists and activists to accompany that travelling commission not as its members but as people who can help mediate between the officials and the population. And third, it has promised that there will be no border changes without public discussion of what is planned.

            Whether that will be enough to prevent an Ingushetia-type outburst remains to be seen, but the willingness of Daghestani officials to meet the population at least part way shows that some republic officials are concerned that it could. Some Daghestanis may be mollified, but others may it as eyewash and be even more angry.

            The upshot of all of this, of course, is that Moscow’s effort to prevent regional and republic borders from becoming the source of conflict has had exactly the opposite effect. On the one hand, this registration process has highlighted the importance, psychological and political, of what have long been dismissed as “administrative” lines.

            And on the other, it has called attention to the fact that Moscow has often redrawn these borders without regard to the views of the population, yet another reason for people in the regions and the republics to be angry about what has been and is being done to them without their consent. 

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