Friday, February 26, 2021

Kadyrov Again Highlights His Territorial Ambitions by Focusing on Daghestan’s Chechens, Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, February 25 – Ramzan Kadyrov sent a senior official to Daghestan to take part in the commemoration of the anniversary of the deportation of Chechens from that republic to underscore his self-appointed role as the leader of all Chechens, Moscow Caucasus specialist Akhmet Yarlypakov says.

            The Grozny leader had that opportunity because some local officials although not republic ones decided to allow such a commemoration this year  to curry favor both with their own population and with Grozny and Moscow as well, Caucasus specialist Mikhail Roshchin and rights activist Ruslan Kutayev add (

            On the anniversary two days ago, more than 10,000 people came from Chechnya and Ingushetia to the Novolak district of Daghestan. Among those in attendance was Shaid Zhamaldayev, the deputy speaker of the Chechen Republic parliament. He and all other speakers called for the restoration of the Chechen-dominated Aukhov District in Daghestan.

            A year ago, Daghestan’s Chechens with the support of Grozny had planned to hold a congress on that subject, but it was cancelled because of the pandemic. This year, the memorial meeting served as a substitute, although Daghestan leader Sergey Melikov ignored the session (

            Yarlypkapv, a specialist on the Caucasus at MGIMO, says that Grozny has never hidden its interest in the Chechens of Daghestan even though that subgroup of Chechens, who call themselves Akkintsy and speak a language intermediate between Chechen and Ingush do not reciprocate with expressions of loyalty to Kadyrov.

            He suggests that the participation of Grozny officials in the memorial meeting in Daghestan had yet another purpose, to help Kadyrov back away from his earlier insistence that the anniversary of the deportation should be marked in May rather than on February 23 when it is in conflict with the Russian holiday, the Day of the Defender of the Fatherland.

            But mostly, the Moscow specialist continues, Kadyrov wants to give content to his insistence that he is “president of all Chechens, not only in Russia but more generally, including even European Chechens who formally already are not Russian citizens.”

            While Kadyrov feels free to appeal to Chechens elsewhere, he continues to do everything he can to block the interest of others in ethnic minorities in his own republic. And he has been successful in that: “Not one of the neighboring republics has been raising such questions,” Yarlykapov says.

            Mikhail Roshchin, a specialist on the region at the Moscow Institute of Oriental Studies says that what Grozny is doing in Daghestan is first and foremost about channeling historical memories along lines that do not present a threat to the current powers that be especially given that Chechens in Daghestan aren’t always supportive of Kadyrov’s policies in Chechnya itself.

            Ruslan Kutayev, president of the Assembly of Peoples of the Caucasus, says that Kadyrov is acting according to the old principle that “when it is impossible to prohibit something, one must head it” lest it go in unwelcome directions. Kadyrov couldn’t stop the February 23 meetings and now he has found a way to have them.

            At the same time, the activist says that “all the actions of the leadership of Chechnya, including support for the restoration of the Aukhov district and participation in memorial meetings in Daghestan is not its own initiative.” Moscow decided this could happen just as it decided about the controversial border changes between Chechnya and Ingushetia.

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