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Daghestan's President Tries To (Re)Make History

Daghestan's President Magomedsalam Magomedov seems to have forgotten some congresses.
Daghestan's President Magomedsalam Magomedov seems to have forgotten some congresses.
On December 15, a congress of Daghestan's various nationalities took place in the capital, Makhachkala, which the republic's authorities touted as the third such congress in Daghestan's recent history.

They claim that the first one took place in Temir-Khan-Shura (present day Buinaksk) in November 1920, when Joseph Stalin, then people's commissar for nationalities, called for the annihilation of North Caucasus mufti Najmutdin Gotsinsky, and read out a declaration affirming that Daghestan was an autonomous Soviet republic.

The second, according to the official timeline, was in 1992. But in fact that Congress of People's Deputies was a routine parliament session that adopted a resolution on returning to the Akkin Chechens the Aukh district of the Checheno-Ingush ASSR that was allocated to Daghestan after the 1944 deportation of the Chechens to Central Asia on Stalin's orders.

That resolution was never implemented, however, and the issue was not even mentioned at this week's congress, which was the brainchild of just one man, Magomedsalam Magomedov, whom Russian President Dmitry Medvedev appointed as Daghestan's president in February this year.

The focus at the December 15 congress was primarily on how to prevent the spread of religious extremism and tensions in relations between Daghestan's numerous ethnic groups. In contrast to the two previous such gatherings, its only claim to be "historic" lay in the record number of delegates: some 3,000, which is tantamount to 0.1 percent of the republic's population.

Neither the congress agenda nor the resolution adopted differed fundamentally from those of countless previous sessions of the government or its various commissions. That is why not only the population at large, but even some of the delegates who shared their impressions with RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, regarded the entire proceedings with a degree of skepticism.

As for numbering the congresses, the true chronology is as follows: the first congress, which went down in history as the Congress of Mountain Peoples, was convened in May 1917 and elected a Spiritual Council headed by Gotsinsky, who was simultaneously designated mufti of the North Caucasus.

At the second Congress of Highlanders in September 1917, Gotsinsky was elected imam of Daghestan and Chechnya. The third congress took place one month later, in October 1917, overturned the resolution adopted at the second congress and confirmed Gotsinsky's election as mufti.

So the congresses that took place in 1920 and 1992 were the fourth and fifth respectively, and that on December 15 was the sixth, not the third, as its organizers would have us believe, and as Russian media have unanimously reported. Why the organizers of this week's congress sought to rewrite history and expunge several of the preceding ones is not immediately clear.

As for the population at large, they have chosen various ways of registering their negative attitude to the congress. The day before, residents of the village of Komsomolskoye in Kizilyurt Raion, some 50 kilometers northwest of Makhachkala, blocked a main highway to protest the indifference of the local authorities to their grievances and remained there for 24 hours until the congress ended.

Magomed Ramazanov, who represents the tiny Didoi minority, told RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service he had collected the signatures of 14,596 people to an appeal to the Georgian government to grant them Georgian citizenship, as the Daghestani authorities were unable or unwilling to resolve the problems they face.

The congress organizers failed to take note of either group.

-- Murtuz Dugrichilov

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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