Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 16

"Russia has become a country in which the rights of national minorities are completely neglected," said Ramazan Abdulatipov, vice-chairman of the former Federation Council and newly elected Duma deputy, at a recent Moscow news conference. Abdulatipov, himself from Dagestan, said Russian conduct in the Pervomaiskoye affair and attitudes in Russia toward peoples from the North Caucasus and Transcaucasus represented violations of basic human rights. The Duma deputy said he would complain to the Council of Europe about both the violations and the absence of laws to defend these people’s rights. Abdulatipov accused the Russian leadership of ignoring a draft program for nationality policies and cautioned them that callous treatment of nationalities was dangerous to Russia as a whole. Abdulatipov blamed recent Chechen raids on "the authorities’ sanguinary policies," warning, "Those who think that this is a war on Russia’s periphery are deeply wrong. It goes to the heart of Russia." (2) In a seeming illustration of Abdulatipov’s contention of callousness, Russian federal security service director Mikhail Barsukov capped a Saturday briefing on Pervomaiskoye by saying "the Chechen can only be a murderer, or at least a robber, or at least a thief. There is no other Chechen." (3) Barsukov attributed the remark to an unknown, "respected Chechen."

Dagestani authorities were scheduled to have celebrated January 20 the 75th anniversary of the creation of the Dagestan autonomous republic within the Russian Federation. Because of the carnage in Pervomaiskoye, celebrations were postponed until next month. Dagestan’s minister for nationality affairs Mahomedsaleh Gusayev said in an interview that Dagestan may have been wrong to delegate responsibility for security to the federal center and that the republic should renegotiate the division of powers to obtain a larger share of responsibility for its own security. (4) Such comments indicate that the war in Chechnya and the Pervomaiskoye crisis have shaken the long-standing loyalty of Abdulatipov and the Dagestani leadership to Moscow. The Ingush leadership earlier underwent a similar experience.

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