Sunday, November 27, 2022

Kremlin Demand for Changes in Republic Constitutions Exacerbating Border Disputes in North Caucasus

Paul Goble

            Staunton, Nov. 25 – The Kremlin is insisting that republic constitutions be brought in line with the Russian one and drop among other things provisions that specify that the heads of republics are responsible for defending the borders of those territories, a role Moscow believes only the Russian president should have.

            But even the proposed elimination of such provisions is raising fears that the Russian government plans to amalgamate republics or otherwise change the borders among them and that in turn is leading ever more people in the North Caucasus to focus on border disputes in the region (

            As a result, what the Kremlin undoubtedly viewed as a simple housekeeping measure is rapidly becoming another source of tensions in the North Caucasus and possibly elsewhere, exactly the opposite of what those in Moscow can have wanted but now must be prepared to address because of their own actions.

            Their representatives in the North Caucasus are already having to scramble. After protests in Karachayevo-Cherkessia, the authorities there have promised to hold public hearings about dropping the territorial defense provision of the republic basic law, hearings that will certainly be heated.

            Until all the issues about such changes are fully aired, the Congress of the Karachay People have proposed placing a moratorium on any changes in the republic’s constitution. And its leadership has even questioned the legality of Moscow’s insistence on this or any other change in the region’s basic law.

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