Publication: Monitor Volume: 1 Issue: 94

. According to Russian intelligence services, several hundred young "Dagestanis" from Azerbaijan have been crossing into Dagestan in recent days because they are unwilling to serve in Azerbaijan’s army and fight on the Karabakh front. Once in Dagestan, which borders on Chechnya, the young men do not go there to fight because funds for "mercenaries" have dried up in Chechnya, according to the intelligence services there. (17) The reports say nothing about the ethnicity of those crossing the border. It is most probable that they are Lezgins, a people who reside compactly on both sides of the border between Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation’s Dagestan republic. The Lezgin do not have a territorial formation of their own. Military service in the Azerbaijani army has been a constant irritant for Azerbaijan’s Lezgin, occasionally provoking outbreaks of separatism among them. The situation has at times been ripe for Russian exploitation, but tends to stabilize when Azerbaijan desists from enforcing conscription among its Lezgin. The Lezgin independence movement, Sadval, takes the position that the Karabagh war is an Armenian-Azeri ethnic conflict, and should not involve members of other minorities in Azerbaijan.

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