Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Daghestanis Launch Largest Class Action Law Suit in Russian History over Hydro Dam

Paul Goble

            Staunton, November 15 – Soviet and now Russian officials have built dams to provide electric power and irrigation without much regard to the fate of people whose homes and agricultural areas will be flooded and who will be displaced and start over, a tragic situation that came to widespread attention thanks to Valentin Rasputin’s 1976 Farewell to Matyora.

            That novel described how a village and a way of life were destroyed by such thoughtless actions by the authorities, and it ended with crosses from the village cemetery floating on the rising waters behind the dam. Now, there is every possibility that a similar situation in Daghestan will fear not crosses but Muslim crescents.

            In 1996, the Russian authorities announced plans to build a dam in the Untsukul district of Daghestan even though it would flood villages and pasture land, displacing members of the Avar nation and intensifying the land shortages that they face given their rapidly increasing population (capost.media/news/obshchestvo/zhiteli-dagestana-podali-samyy-massovyy-kollektivnyy-v-istorii-rossii/).

            In the hopes of stopping this, 567 residents have filed a class action suit that will shortly be held in Makhachkala. The suit, with eight kilograms of supporting materials, is the largest class action suit in the history of Russia and is yet another example of the way in which minorities are using the courts to defend themselves.

            This is yet another case of the way environmental protests are taking on broader, political meaning and thus setting the stage for other challenges to the powers that be, in this case not in the streets but in the courts (windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2020/11/ecological-protest-in-russia-becoming.html).

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