Publication: Monitor Volume: 2 Issue: 162

The head of Russia’s Federal Border Service, General Andrey Nikolaev, has issued instructions easing the restrictions on the entry of Azerbaijani citizens into the Russian Federation across the two countries’ land border. The new rules allow women, children, and pensioners to pass. Other Azerbaijanis may pass after proving that they are traveling to attend funerals or weddings or for business, work, or study purposes. The instructions as reported do not mention transportation of goods. (Turan, August 30)

Russia closed the border in December 1994 in order to isolate Chechnya; yet Russian intelligence has often claimed that Chechen insurgents were being supplied from Azerbaijan via Dagestan, the Russian Federation’s republic situated between Azerbaijan and Chechnya. The restrictions on overland movement of Azerbaijani exports to the Russian Federation have seriously hurt Azerbaijan’s economy, causing Baku to ask repeatedly for their removal. The relative easing of rules on personal travel will be welcomed by the Lezgin ethnic group which straddles the border and has evidenced discontent over its closure. At the same time, free cross-border movement by Lezgins may complicate Azerbaijan’s security problem stemming from a Lezgin irredentist organization based on the Russia/Dagestan side of the border.

Kazakhstan Looking Westward.