Sunday, August 25, 2019

On Border Issues, Chechnya United but Daghestan Divided, Derbent Journalist Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, August 23 – Talks between Grozny and Makhachkala on the demarcation of the Chechen-Daghestani border have been suspended until next year, but the basic problem in the negotiations is that the Chechen side has a single position while Daghestan does not, with the regions and the republic capital differing fundamentally on where the border should be.

            What that means. Midrad Fattulayev, the chief editor of the Derbent news agency, says, is that the border issue is reinforcing unity in Chechnya but intensifying regional divisions within Daghestan, yet another way in which Moscow’s demand for the delineation of borders is causing problems (

                Grozny has done an effective job of presenting its position on the border to the Chechen population and getting the people in the border zone to fall into line, Fattulayev says. Makhachkala has not. “No one in Daghestan has taken responsibility” for ensuring the people are informed and united, and there is great uncertainty as to who is preparing for the talks.

            As a result, he continues, in each of the three zones where there are disputes between the republics – the Botlikh district, Lake Kazenoy-Am, and Kizlyar district -- disputes have also arisen on the Daghestani side between the local people and their leaders and republic officials in the capital.  

            Some of these disputes are taking place in the streets with local people engaging in protest actions Makhachkala has been forced to disavow, but many others, the Derbent editor says, are occurring behind the scenes in letters to and from officials (e.g.,

                But no one in Makhachkala has taken ownership of this issue, and many of the disputes are festering as a result.  What is worse, Fattulayev says, is that as a result, other controversies such as Kadyrov’s recent attack on the historical role of Imam Shamil are being folded into and exacerbating the border disputes.

            Unless Makhachkala is able to develop a common position on border talks and impose it on the Daghestani population, the resumption of the talks next year almost certainly will lead to protests in parts of the republic, with the central authorities facing new challenges to their control of the regions. 

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