Staunton, October 27 – Many Russians and others as well blame conditions in the North
Caucasus republics on the nations there, blaming them for the authoritarianism of their regimes. But that is not the cause of the situation. These republics began to build serious civil societies in the 1990s, but then Moscow crushed them, Valery Khatazhukov says.
The Circassian head of the Kabardino-Balkar Human Rights Protection Center says that the reason for this change was not the second post-Soviet Chechen war but rather the Kremlin’s decision to treat Chechnya and the other republics as colonies and test repressive measures there before using them elsewhere (caucasustimes.com/ru/valerij-hatazhukov-kreml-vystraivaet-svoi-otnoshenija-s-severnym-kavkazom-kak-metropolija-s-kolonijami/).
Indeed, in his view, the second Chechen war was the product of a broader plan by Vladimir Putin to reduce the status of the North Caucasus republics to colonies run by Moscow appointees rather than a self-standing issue. But as a result, all the progress that was made toward democracy, division of powers, and honest elections was reversed, something often forgotten.
If Putin had not made that shift when he did, the republics of the North Caucasus could have been leaders in the Russian Federation in the march toward democratic legitimacy. But instead, they are now testing grounds for the repressive policies Moscow wants to consider the effectiveness of before extending them to the rest of the country.
People in the North Caucasus, the Circassian activist says, continue to seek democracy and freedom but they are up against a situation in which Moscow takes their money and sends back its representatives to run them like satrapies and engages in increasingly hyperbolic attacks on those who openly try to achieve progress.
Khatazhukov does not say but his words surely suggest that those who insist the North Caucasus can only be run this way are engaged in self-serving racist nonsense and that if Moscow would go back to the policies it had before Putin, there would be a serious chance for real democracy in the region.