The "organizing committee of an extraordinary congress of the Lezgin people" yesterday threatened to launch a campaign for Lezgin rights that could include "armed struggle." Although it charges that the Lezgin suffer discrimination on both sides of the Russia-Azerbaijan border, the statement in fact targeted Azerbaijan by accusing it of suppressing Lezgin-language education and culture and of "filling the prisons with the Lezgin people’s best sons." The statement warned of "drastic consequences" if Lezgin demands are ignored. (Interfax, October 8)
The Lezgins reside compactly on both sides of the Azerbaijan-Russia border. The last USSR census (1989) registered nearly 200,000 of them in northern Azerbaijan and nearly 300,000 in the Russian Federation’s Dagestan republic. Lezgin spokesman cite far higher figures. Since the disintegration of the USSR, the Lezgin movement Sadval [Unity] has sought to create a unified Lezgin territorial entity, while Russia’s secret services have tried to channel Lezgin irredentism against Azerbaijan. Sadval split and has been dormant recently, particularly after some leaders and activists were detained in Azerbaijan for their role in terrorist bomb explosions in Baku.
Georgian Ex-Officials Sentenced, Others on Trial.