Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 123

An election was held in Dagestan yesterday for the republic’s chief executive body, the State Council. There were no surprises: Magomedali Magomedov was reelected by the Constitutional Assembly to serve a further four years as State Council chairman. Of the 242 members of the republic’s electoral college, 162 voted for Magomedov. His only competitor, Sharaputdin Musaev, chairman of Dagestan’s Pension Fund, got 78 votes. Two ballots were declared invalid.

The session of the Constitutional Assembly did not go by without legal challenges, however. A number of deputies claimed that the prime minister, eight members of the government and one member of the Russian State Duma did not have the right to vote. On the eve of the elections, the State Council had accepted the resignation of three members of the Cabinet of Ministers–Ilias Umakhanov, Hadji Makhachev and Usman Usmanov–who expressed the desire to take part in the Constitutional Assembly session. The credentials committee also explained that the other members of the government and the State Duma deputy were not covered under the ban on holding positions in the legislative and executive branches simultaneously, because the Constitutional Assembly is not a permanent representative body.

As expected, security was tight. In the run-up to the election, terrorist acts had been committed in Dagestan virtually every day. Yesterday morning, Makhachkala was full of policemen, armed to the teeth. Only members of the Constitutional Assembly, invited guests and accredited journalists were let into the building where the session was held.

The Kremlin clearly took the election seriously. The day before the election, a telephone conversation took place between Magomedali Magomedov and Russian President Boris Yeltsin–no great fan of picking up the telephone without a serious reason. The president wanted to demonstrate his support for Magomedov who is, perhaps, of all the North Caucasus leaders, the most active supporter of Russia’s territorial integrity. It is an open secret that, as chairman of the State Council, Magomedov makes decisions on key problems only after consulting the Kremlin. Some analysts have nonetheless predicted that Magomedov’s reelection could spark ethnic conflict in the republic, since it violates an earlier agreement to rotate the post among the republic’s indigenous ethnic groups. (NTV, RTR, June 25; Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 26)