Russian first deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov has pledged to build an alternative to the oil pipeline carrying Caspian oil across Chechnya to Russia’s Black Sea port at Novorossiisk. But the general director of Dagestan’s Dagneft corporation, Hadji Makhachev, argues that Nemtsov’s proposal to build the bypass through Dagestan’s Khasavyurt District, which borders Chechnya, is far too dangerous. Makhachev told the Monitor in an interview that Khasavyurt is populated predominantly by Chechen-Akkins and that a section of the pipeline built there would be vulnerable to sabotage by maverick Chechen fighters not under Grozny’s control. This could seriously damage Dagestan’s own stability, Makhachev said. He has therefore sent Nemtsov an alternative proposal for the pipeline, which would run further to the east, well away from the Chechen-Dagestani border. "Our alternative route is not only more secure; it is also 30 km shorter," Makhachev told the Monitor.
According to Makhachev, "Dagneft" has already reached provisional agreement with a U.S.-based company that is prepared to invest $300 million in building the bypass sector of the pipeline. Makhachev proposes to use his own forces to provide security for the bypass: he is the leader of the Imam Shamil Avar People’s Movement. The Avars are Dagestan’s largest ethnic group and the movement is one of the most influential in Dagestan. The movement includes several hundred well-armed and well-trained fighters, who serve as Dagneft’s security service and Makhachev’s personal bodyguards.
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