Russia’s ambassador to Azerbaijan, Aleksandr Blokhin, has stated at a Baku news conference that Moscow does not support the Lezgin organization Sadval (Unity), which aspires to unite the Lezgin-inhabited territories in northern Azerbaijan and in the Russian Federation’s republic of Dagestan. Unleashing the Lezgin problem in Azerbaijan would be dangerous to Russia as well, since stability in Azerbaijan promotes stability in southern Russia, Blokhin stated. (Turan, June 11)
The ambassador was addressing concerns expressed in Baku over last week’s hearing in the Russian Duma’s Nationality Affairs Committee, where Sadval sympathizers presented a detailed case for Lezgin irredentism. Speakers attacked Azerbaijan for allegedly persecuting Lezgin activists and also accused Russian authorities of extraditing some of those activists who had sought refuge on Russian territory. In addition to the usual cultural and linguistic demands, Sadval’s program as presented to the Duma calls for introducing dual Azerbaijani-Russian citizenship for Lezgins in Azerbaijan, "mandatory transport of Azerbaijani oil via Russian territory," and a share of the oil transit fees to be reserved for Lezgins. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 3)
Tensions Smolder in Tajikistan.