Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 218

Authorities in the southern Russian republic of Kabardino-Balkaria have reacted with something like panic to last weekend’s declaration of a "sovereign Republic of Balkaria." (See Monitor, November 19) Kabardino-Balkaria’s parliament met yesterday in emergency session and dissolved the Council of the Balkar People, which was responsible for proclaiming the breakaway Balkar state. Police sealed the Council’s offices and the republic prosecutor launched criminal proceedings against its leaders. The Russian Duma immediately dispatched a team of deputies to the republic to investigate. Although Balkar leaders had stressed that they wanted to remain within the Russian Federation, reactions in both Kabardino-Balkaria and Moscow appear to be influenced by a determination to ward off any repetition of the Chechen scenario. Only the Yeltsin administration reacted calmly, with presidential spokesman Sergei Yastrzhembsky warning against "overdramatizing" developments. (Itar-Tass, November 19) This is the third time since 1991 that Balkar activists have threatened to separate from Kabardino-Balkaria, and their latest attempt is believed to have been sparked by the fact that all official posts of any importance in the republic have gone to Kabardins or Slavs, with none going to Balkars, who make up ten percent of the population. In the past, ordinary Balkars have not supported their leaders’ declarations of independence.

North Ossetian and Ingush Presidents Agree: Moscow is to Blame for Their Problems.