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Daghestan's New Cabinet (More Or Less) Reflects Republic's Ethnic Composition


Magomedsalam Magomedov

Magomedsalam Magomedov

On March 3, Daghestan's new President Magomedsalam Magomedov unveiled the new streamlined structure of the republic's government. It provides for a second first deputy prime minister, in addition to the four existing deputy prime ministerial posts.

Magomedov abolished the government Committee for Religious Affairs, whose functions devolve on to the Ministry for Nationality Policy and Information. Several other ministries were either abolished or downgraded to government agencies; but the Ministry for Labor and Social Development was split to create a separate agency dealing with employment. Daghestan's official unemployment rate is over 13.6 percent, but it varies considerably from region to region, and the true figure is believed to be far higher.

Of the 14 remaining cabinet ministers, Magomedov reappointed only six: Ilyas Mamayev (health/Avar); Arsanali Murtuzaliyev (sport/Avar-Andi); Abdusamad Gamidov (finance/Dargin); Zumrud Suleymanova (culture/Dargin); Ismail Efendiyev (social development/Lezgin); and Azadi Ragimov (justice/Tabasaran).

First Deputy Prime Minister Nizami Kaziyev (Lezgin) retained his post as did all four deputy prime ministers: Rizvan Gazimagomedov (Avar); Mukhtar Medjidov (Dargin); Murat Shikhsaidov (Kumyk); and Antonina Idrisova (Russian).

The new second first deputy prime minister, Rizvan Kurbanov, is a Lak. He is 48, a qualified lawyer, and began his career within the Daghestan Prosecutor's office before transferring in 2004 to the Russian Ministry of Justice. He reportedly has an extensive network of contacts in Moscow.

The choice of interior minister lies with Moscow: it is unlikely that Ali Magomedov, an Avar appointed last year, will retain his post.

At present, the Avars have five ministerial posts (plus the interior ministry); the Dargins and Lezgins three each; the Kumyks, Laks, and Tabasarans two each; and the Russians one.

The ethnic composition of the new cabinet thus more or less reflects the relative percentage of the largest ethnic groups among the total population, with two key exceptions.

First, the Azeris, the seventh largest ethnic group, were not given a ministerial portfolio while the Tabasarans (the eighth largest) have two.

And second, the Kumyks, the third largest ethnic group after the Avars and Dargins, were not compensated for having lost the post of prime minister by gaining the second first deputy premier position. True, they have retained the key ministry with combined responsibility for nationality and religious affairs; but they still have only two portfolios compared with three for the Lezgins. The second Kumyk minister Magomedguseyn Nasrutdinov (industry, energy and communications) is reportedly from an influential and prominent Kumyk family: his uncle, Umalat Nasrutdinov, served as agriculture minister under Magomedov's father Magomedali Magomedov, but Mukhu Aliyev fired him after being named president in 2006.

Observers in Makhachkala anticipate that Magomedov (a Dargin), having named Avar Magomed Abdullayev as prime minister, will propose a Kumyk as parliament speaker. It is not clear whether that possibility was discussed during Magomedov's meeting on March 2 with representatives of the Kumyk community.

Between 500 and over 2,000 Kumyks gathered in Makhachkala on February 16 to protest the anticipated dismissal of their co-ethnic Shamil Zaynalov as prime minister following Magomedov's inauguration as president.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.

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