Staunton, September 20 – Many Russians as well as outside observers routinely speak of the North Caucasus as if it were a unified whole when in fact there is a deep divide between its eastern portion which was Islamicized far earlier and remains more Islamic to this day and the western part which has had a different history.
Indeed, one is almost justified in speaking of two North Caucasuses not one at least in terms of the Russian presence and control and of the nature of national movements and challenges to Moscow.
One result of this is that the presence of ethnic Russians in the cities of the eastern portion of the region is far smaller and thus far less influential culturally and politically than that in the western part, a pattern that profoundly affects both Moscow’s ability to control the situation and the reaction of local people to policies emanating from the center.
According to the findings of the 2010 Russian Federation census, only 95,000 ethnic Russians lived in the cities of Ingushetia, Chechnya and Daghestan, while 443,000 did so in the cities of Adygeya, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, Kabardino-Balkaria and North Ossetia (https://www.kavkaz-uzel.eu/blogs/378/posts/39681).
In the major cities in the West, which were established either as military fortresses or Cossack settlements, ethnic Russians form between 54 and 77 percent of the population of the major cities. In those in the East, Russians, although in all but one cases ranking second, form only 20 or 30 percent or even less.
There are two major reasons why the Russians have maintained their position in the west but not in the east. On the one hand, growth rates among the indigenous populations have been far lower in the west than in the east; and on the other, Russian outmigration has been far lower because there has not been the same level of violence and economic problems in the west.
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