Staunton, Nov. 7 – Until recently, Daghestan was almost universally viewed as the freest republic in the North Caucasus with a lively civil society; but as a result of the Putin crackdown, many of its most prominent activists have either been jailed or have fled the Russian Federation, leaving the public field increasingly to Islamist radicals.
That conclusion is suggested by the comments of three Daghestani political exiles who were part of that lively political scene in the past but who now have no plans to return because they don’t expect Russia to change anytime soon (kavkazr.com/a/neuklonnaya-degradatsiya-rossii-istorii-uehavshih-dagestanskih-aktivistov/32673201.html).
Shamil Magomedov, who was involved with Memorial before he left, now lives in Belgium. He says he doesn’t plan to return because he “doesn’t believe in positive changes in Russia. Rather the reverse: I expect,” he says, “that the situation will only get worse” and the prospects for a shift toward rule of law and democracy become less likely.
Sultan Ramazanov, an entrepreneur and outspoken blogger, now lives in the US. He says he left his native Daghestan after people began threatening him for his words. He says he refuses to look at the world with “rose-colored glasses” and doesn’t expect anything to change in Russia for the next 20 years.
And Murad Mananov, an activist who opened the Navalny Staff office in Makhachkala, now live sin Poland. He left after it became clear that if he didn’t, he too would be put behind bars. Life in the diaspora isn’t easy; but it is better to live with all the difficulties but in freedom rather than in Russia without freedom and even more difficulties.
Because his family remains in Daghestan, Mananov hopes at some point to return; but it is unlikely he will do so anytime soon because the repressions against democracy there show no sign of ending.