Friday, June 14, 2019

Kadyrov’s Territorial Ambitions Extend Far Beyond Ingushetia and Daghestan, Suleymanov Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 14 – When Moscow called for territorial delimitation of the federal subjects, it virtually invited regional leaders to advance their own demands. The most extensive and potentially explosive of these have been by Ramzan Kadyrov whose notions of a Greater Chechnya are far larger than almost anyone imagines, Rais Suleymanov says.

            The Chechen leader, apparently with the backing of Moscow, has already sparked protests in Ingushetia and Daghestan by his demands, met and unmet, the notoriously anti-Muslim editor of Musulmansky mir tells Anton Chablin of Svobodnaya presssa (

            Kadyrov’s “appetites” are not limited to these two republics but extend already to predominantly ethnic Russian Stavropol kray and “in the distant perspective, to the Pankisi Gorge of Georgia” as well which is populated by Chechens, Suleymanov says.  What Kadyrov is doing is typical of what other ethnic leaders would like to do.

            “The main thing,” the Muslim affairs specialist says, “is to declare one or another territory as one’s own ‘historical lands,’ and then wait to see how the political situation developments. Therefore, one should not rush to the conclusion that such scenarios of the development of events are impossible.”

            According to Suleymanov, people have an idea “about their own ethnic territory even if at present there have lived and for a long time representatives of other ethnic groups. More than that, for them, any place where representatives of a specific ethnos live or have lived in a compact group can be part of this ethnic territory.”

            In most places within the borders of the Russian Federation, non-Russian elites think in these terms but do not act on them; but in Grozny, “the project of ‘a Greater Chechnya’ has found support among the elite,” whose members are convinced that they enjoy the support of the Kremlin as well.

            Suleymanov says that he has been surprised by “the passive reaction of the federal Center.” It is as if either Moscow “doesn’t control the situation or alternatively everything that is taking place has been agreed to and is developing according to an approved scenario.”  But one thing is certain. 

Any notions about some kind of “’pan-Caucasus unity’” are nonsense.  “We clearly see that people of different nationalities view territory as ‘their own’ or ‘someone else’s.’” And that in turn means that “regional identity is playing the most important role in the self-identification of people” there. 

Meanwhile, there were two new developments in Ingushetia. First, five leaders of the Ingush national protest movement announced that they would not cooperate with investigators until conditions under which they are being held are significantly improved (

And second, Akhmed Pogorov, a leader of the protests who is still at large but on an all-Russia most wanted list, said that Asa Yevloyev, a Yevkurov-controlled deputy, was behind the slanderous Rossiya 24 broadcasts about the Ingush opposition (

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