Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 114

On June 10, the Supreme Court of Karachaevo-Cherkessia declared valid the results of the May 16 elections for the republic’s head. That vote was one for Vladimir Semenov, the former head of Russia’s ground forces and a Karachaev by nationality. The court’s decision will now be appealed to the Russian federal Supreme Court. Future developments in the republic will depend on the Kremlin’s next moves vis-a-vis the republic. It is possible that Moscow’s position will become clearer after the planned June 14 meeting between Semenov and Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin (Kommersant, NTV, June 11).

Immediately following the decision by the republic’s Supreme Court, Semenov’s main opponent, Stanislav Derev–the mayor of the republic’s capital Cherkessk and a Cherkes by nationality–broke through a cordon of police surrounding the city’s main square and began a protest demonstration. During an emergency meeting called by President Boris Yeltsin’s representative in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, Ivan Golubev, Derev declared that he did not want to see an escalation of tensions and that he is planning to meet soon with Stepashin.

Supporters of Vladimir Semenov believe that the decision by the republic’s Supreme Court means that their leader has the right to assume the post of republican head immediately (NTV, RTR, June 11). It is obvious, however, that the Cherkes population is not resigned to the defeat of Derev, their candidate.

Immediately following the release of the results of the election last month, Derev declared that Cherkes territory in the republic should be returned to neighboring Stavropol krai. The Karachaevo-Cherkes autonomous oblast was created in 1922, but in 1926 was divided into Karachaev and Cherkes Oblasts, according to the idea that the two peoples could not live in the same oblast. In 1957, however, following the return to the area of Karachaevo of those who had been deported by Stalin in 1944, the Karachaevo-Cherkes Oblast was recreated as part of Stavropol. In 1990, the oblast became an independent structure within the Russian Federation.