On route to Baku on July 1, Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov stopped in Makhachkala for talks with Magomedali Magomedov, chairman of Dagestan’s State Council. They discussed questions relating to their common border, including the plight of the Dagestani Agriculture Ministry officials and others being held captive in Chechnya. (Russian news agencies, July 1)
The recent rash of kidnappings of Dagestanis by Chechen bandit groups is a major source of tension between Djohar-gala and Makhachkala. These Chechen bands venture into Dagestan far more often than into Chechnya’s other neighbors. The situation in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district, where ethnic Chechens are a significant portion of the population, is particularly serious. Most cross-border raids from the Chechen side take place in this district. Although the Chechen authorities have made no official claim to the territory, virtually all Chechen historians describe Khasavyurt as Chechen land, and Makhachkala is made nervous by the rumors that arise periodically saying that Djohar-gala wants to annex Khasavyurt district.
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