Staunton, January 17 – In response to attacks on Russian churches and commercial centers, ethnic Russians have fled North Daghestan over the last two decades, creating countless human tragedies for those who had lived there and reducing Moscow’s ability to influence or even control that most Muslim of North Caucasus republics, Yury Soshin says.
But despite these costs and dangers, the APN analyst continues, the Moscow media in recent years have with rare exceptions not focused on the attacks Daghestanis have made on Russians and Russian institutions or on the flight of Russians from places that had had Russian majorities as recently as 1991 (apn.ru/index.php?newsid=38160).
An exception to this pattern came when an Islamist fanatic attacked the Russian Orthodox church in Kizlyar and shot five elderly Russian parishioners in February 2018 – on that event, see windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2018/02/daghestani-militants-attack-ethnic.html – but attacks since that time have been ignored.
But other attacks by Daghestanis and by Daghestani authorities on Russians have failed to get media attention and as a result, they are intensifying given that both ordinary Daghestanis and those in positions of authority feel they can attack Russians and Russian institutions with impunity, Soshin says.
Last fall, for example, a Russian cemetery in Khasavyurt was desecrated, something that the APN commentator suggests cannot be called anything but “an act of terror.” Despite that, the Moscow media did not report it at all and the local authorities tried to cover up the crime rather than identify and bring to justice those responsible.
Now, this anti-Russian wave has taken a new form, Soshin continues. The authorities there, on the heels of popular attacks on Russian activists who are seeking to defend Russians, have begun to use the powers of the state against such activists in the hopes of silencing them lest they embarrass Daghestan.
The clearest example of this concerns the persecution over the last decade of the Ilins, a Cossack family, that has been subject to armed attacks that have involved gunshots and fire bombings but has not gotten justice. Instead, the authorities have ignored the attacks brought fake charges against members of the family and persecuted the family in other ways.
Local officials have taken away part of the land of the family, they have blocked the bank accounts of its members so they can’t get their pensions (and even when courts overruled that action, the accounts have stayed blocked), and they have detained without sufficient evidence many of its members so they cannot support other members of the family.
In the face of these attacks and certainly one of the reasons they are continuing, Soshin continues, Viktor Ilin has joined with his neighbors in preparing An Analytic Report on the Effectiveness of Measures for Reducing the Outflow of Ethnic Russians and Cossacks from the Republic of Daghestan (in Russian, text available at apn.ru/index.php?newsid=36820).
The authors have sent this to officials in Moscow, and they have garnered support from other Russians and Cossacks in the region in two petition campaigns. (One garnered 160 signatures; the other 250.) But again and at least so far, neither the Russian authorities nor the Moscow media have paid attention.
Unless that changes, Soshin suggests, Moscow may soon wake up to a situation in which it won’t have the issue of ethnic Russians in Daghestan to deal with not because their rights will be respected but because there won’t be any of them left. In that event, the future of Russians elsewhere in the North Caucasus and of Russian control of the region will be anything but bright.