Sunday, June 25, 2017

‘Daghestan Needs Nogay Lands Not the Nogay People,’ Movement’s Leader Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – Echoing the infamous remark of a 19th century Russian general about Armenia, Rustam Adilgireyev, the chief organizer of the All-Russian Congress of the Nogay People earlier this month, says that it is becoming obvious that “Daghestan needs the lands of the Nogays but not the Nogay people.” 

            The more than 100,000 Nogays of the Russian Federation, a Turkic people centered on the steppe in northern Daghestan and adjoining territories, he says, are seeking to get support against Makhachkala’s offensive policies from “the leadership of the Russian Federation and … the subjects of the federation” (

                “We Nogays,” Adilgireyev says, “are a devoted people of the Russian state and we will defend the sovereignty of the Russian state.”  Pointedly, he did not say that the Nogays are devoted to Daghestan. In fact, in his article, he makes it clear that his people view Makhchakala almost as an enemy.

            The Nogay people, he continues, “have been and are being subjected to the destructive impact of the incorrect socio-economic and nationality policy of the Government of the Republic of Daghestan,” which among other things has taken away two thirds of Nogay territories from Nogay local administrations and failed to fund these agencies adequately.

            The much-ballyhooed Makhachkala program for the development of the Nogay district has “practically collapsed.”  According to Adilgireyev, this is shown by five developments in recent years:

·         Every year, the local budgets have been cut by Makhachkala, thus making it impossible for the self-governments of the Nogay to do their work.

·         Only people with money or connections are able to take an active part in economic activity as a result.

·         Thousands of young Nogays have been forced to move elsewhere in the search for work.

·         Nogay lands that Makhachkala has given to other peoples have been over-farmed and are now turning into “sandy deserts” of little use to anyone.

·         “In the higher organs of power of Daghestan, there is not a single representative of the Nogay region, not a minister, not a deputy minister, not even a chief of an administration, and only one who heads a small department of the apparatus of the chief of the republic and government.”

All of this, the Nogay leader says, “demonstrate the indifference of the powers that be of Daghestan to the Nogay region and their ignoring of the interests of the population of the district in favor of the population of the mountainous regions.” Still worse, Makhachkala has taken control of the elections and imposed its own people on the Nogay steppe.

As a result, anger among the Nogays is increasing, Adilgireyev says.

            Moscow must ensure that power to make decisions about the Nogays return to the Nogays and not be usurped by the Daghestani authorities.  “We must not allow a new redivision of our small Motherland,” the activist says, “or changes of the administrative-territorial borders and integrity of the Nogay district.”

            If that process isn’t stopped, the Nogay land will be reduced to “an isolated reservation” for a people oppressed by the republic government.

            Adilgireyev says he isn’t posing any challenge to Daghestan “because Daghestan and its leadership are not synonymous.” But of course, that is exactly what he is doing. And his invocation of Moscow to help the Nogays against Makhachkala sets the stage for a most dangerous game.

            Moscow is hardly likely to agree to give the Nogays all that they want, but it may use their demands as the basis for ousting the current leadership in Makhachkala. Unfortunately, for the Russian center, such a move would be fraught with dangers as well: it would send yet another signal that protests can work – and thus lead more ethnic groups to make similar demands.

            Indeed, what makes the new Nogay activism worthy of  note is less its significance for that group alone, something that after all may possible given that nation’s links to Turkey, than as an indication of growing dissatisfaction and activism among many other numerically small ethnic groups in Russia.

FIFA Said Investigating Entire Russian Soccer Team for Doping, Putting 2018 World Cup at Risk

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – A British newspaper is reporting that FIFA, the world governing body for soccer, is now investigating all the members of the Russian team in the last world cup competition for doping, an investigation that Moscow is dismissing as a witch hunt but one that could increase pressure on FIFA to strip Moscow of the right to hold the 2018 World Cup.

            London’s Daily Mail reports today that “every member of Russia’s World Cup team is under investigation in a doping probe” by FIFA. That includes “the entire Russian squad for Rio 2014” and “a further 11” who are currently playing (

            As the paper points out, this is the first indication that the doping scandal in which Russian teams in the Sochi Olympiad were caught has spread to soccer, a development that if FIFA concludes that is true will put enormous pressure on the international body to strip Moscow of the right to hold the World Cup competition next year.

            Not surprisingly, Vitaly Mutkov, Russia’s deputy prime minister, president of the Russian Football Union, and the man who led Russia’s defense against doping charges in other sports until that became unsustainable, has denounced the London paper’s report as nonsense and declared that doping has never been a problem in Russian soccer (

            But if Mutko is confident at least for now and for public consumption that the story is untrue, many Russian outlets appear less certain and are openly warning that this latest report could cost Moscow the right to host the 2018 World Cup, an event that Vladimir Putin has made second only to the Sochi Olympics in importance for showing Russia’s return to the world stage.

            One news outlet said that the 2018 competition was “on the brink” of being taken away from Russia as many activists have demanded for some time ( Others were somewhat less apocalyptic but quite concerned. (See, for example,  and

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Russian Politicians Must Be Punished if They Seek to Exploit Ethnic or Religious Issues, Nationalities Chief Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 24 – Ethnic and Religious issues must become “a taboo for all political parties and figures in Russia,” Igor Barinov, head of the Federal Agency for Nationality Affairs, and the authorities must crack down “in the harshest possible way” to any violation of that official ban.

            Barinov made this comment to TASS on Thursday at the conclusion of the Pyatigorsk conference on nationality policy. He said that he had no doubt that “’destructive forces’ are seeking to ‘shake the political situation in the country on a nationalistic basis” ( and

            The nationalities official pointed out that “similar situations had been observed in previous election campaigns” and involve not only the presidential race but also political competitions within individual federal subjects.  “Of course,” he continued, “this is a very dangerous tendency.”

            Barinov’s words are important for two reasons. On the one hand, they suggest that the Kremlin is now prepared to adopt a much more repressive approach to any such discussion given that it has gotten away with harsher measures in a variety of other sectors of the Russian political landscape.

            And on the other hand, his words also signal that Moscow is worried about ethnic issues and especially those within republics that might tear them apart, such as the remaining bi-national republics in the North Caucasus (Karachayevo-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria where Circassian activism is growing) and Daghestan which has been shaken of late by Nogay moves.