A congress of Chechens and Kumyks living in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt District met on April 20 in the district capital, also called Khasavyurt. The district borders on Chechnya. The congress was convened in response to the conflict provoked by the results of the elections for Khasavyurt city chief of administration, held on April 6. The Avars have declared their candidate, Saigidpasha Usmanov, to be the winner. According to the Chechen and Kumyk communities, the election results were rigged. (Interfax, April 20)
Amid signs of deepening tensions in the city, the congress of Chechens and Kumyks issued a demand for new elections. Delegates warned that, if the dispute is not settled fairly, they will conduct civil disobedience and hold a referendum on the status of Khasavyurt District in the Republic of Dagestan. (Interfax, April 20)
At first glance, this may look like a purely local conflict. It has the potential, however, to destabilize the situation throughout Dagestan. The Kumyks and the Chechens have long lived together in Khasavyurt District. Avars, who are Dagestan’s largest ethnic group, began to move there in the 1950s. By the early 1990s, confrontations were occurring between the Avars and the Chechens and Kumyks. The situation is further complicated by the fact that Chechens on both sides of the border consider Khasavyurt their territory. Even the normally cautious Aslan Maskhadov referred during his negotiations with Aleksandr Lebed in Khasavyurt, referring to the city as "holy Chechen land." If a referendum were held on the status of the Khasavyurt district, therefore, the question of its secession from Dagestan would likely be posed. Finally, the present situation offers Chechen radicals a pretext to stage a provocation. Abdulla Khasbulatov, a deputy of Dagestan’s Popular Assembly (Parliament) and a Kumyk movement activist, told the Monitor that a delegation from the Chechen government has already visited Dagestan to demand that the Dagestani authorities annul the election results.
Cloning Ilyich, or Once Is Not Enough.