The “Congress of the Peoples of Chechnya and Dagestan” held recently in Djohar (see the Monitor, May 19) not only has not fostered the formation of friendly ties between the two republics, it has noticeably worsened the already uneasy relations between Djohar and Makhachkala. Immediately after the Congress, Dagestan’s government and State Council issued a harsh statement which stressed that the people of multi-ethnic Dagestan had nothing to do with the decisions of the self-styled Congress. But Dagestani public organizations kept silent for a rather long time. They came out only after several days–with a joint statement stating that they had not sent representatives to the Congress. This document also protested the statements made at the Congress, describing them as “clear interference in Dagestani affairs and a violation of the ethics of bilateral relations.”
The statement made in Makhachkala was especially significant because it was signed by all of the republic’s most influential organizations and leaders. The leaders of two Kumyk organizations, the Lak, Avar, Lezgin and Tabasaran national movements, and the Spiritual Administration of the Muslims of Dagestan all expressed support for the statement. Even the leader of the organizational committee of the Congress from the Dagestani side, Magomed Khachilaev, the leader of the Lak movement, signed it. The Dagestani leaders objected in particular to the name of the Congress. They were ready to participate in a forum of public and political organizations, they said, but not in a congress of the peoples of the two republics. They also opposed the goal of the new organization, as stated by its leader–the union of Dagestan and Chechnya. The present conflict between Djohar and Makhachkala has erupted after a period of unprecedented activity in bilateral relations between the two republics– from meetings between their leaders, Maskhadov and Magomedov, to forums for women and religious leaders from Chechnya and Dagestan. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 19)
COUNCIL OF EUROPE FINDS NO “PERSECUTION” OF PRO-MOSCOW ACTIVISTS IN LITHUANIA.