Speaking to the Monitor this week, Chechen Foreign Minister Movladi Udugov denied that the program of the "Islamic Nation" movement, which he set up, makes any territorial claims to Dagestan. The "Islamic Nation" contains both Chechen and Dagestani political organizations. Its program calls for the restoration of Dagestan to its historical borders, as it existed during the imamate of Shamil a century and a half ago. Udugov said this should be taken as meaning cultural rather than political union. "In the Chechen language, the word ‘Dagestan’ means ‘land of our fathers,’" Udugov told the Monitor. "Historically, our peoples are very closely linked. Therefore, the borders between Chechnya and Dagestan should remain open. Our aim is to prevent the Chechens and the peoples of Dagestan from becoming split along ethnic lines, and not to allow Chechnya to be isolated from Dagestan."
Udugov said that, if the Russian authorities persecute Muslims in Dagestan (he was referring to the arrests of Wahhabis in Dagestan after the terrorist act in Buinaksk — see the Monitor, January 6), official Grozny "would try to settle the conflict by peaceful, political means." He acknowledged, however, that "individual groups of Chechen volunteers" might come to the defense of their Dagestani brethren. Grozny would have little power to prevent this. Chechnya today is divided up into zones of influence of various field commanders, over most of whom the government has little control.
Air Force Moves Nuclear Weapons Away from Chechnya.