ON THE MIGRATION PROCESSES IN THE REPUBLIC OF DAGHESTAN
Sergei Iliashenko, Chairman of the Daghestan State Statistics Board (Makhachkala, Russian Federation)
Migration flows have economic, social, political, and demographic reasons. World experience shows that when people change their place of residence it significantly alters the demographic situation, which in turn influences not only standards of living and longevity, but also the number of people looking for a better lot in life and where they go to find it.
During the last century these processes in Daghestan were affected by urbanization and agrarian overpopulation. For example, at the beginning of the century, this territory was part of the overall Russian economic system, but after the revolution it found itself under different political, economic, and geographic conditions of social production, which determined a new stage in transforming the socioeconomic and agrarian resource potential of this part of Russia.
The traditional way of life in the village began to flounder as early as the end of the 19th century, when peasants began to move around in search of seasonal work. Caused by a shortage of arable land, this kind of activity became a very characteristic phenomenon in the mountainous areas. In 1897, there were 55,000 seasonal laborers in Daghestan, and in 1914, they constituted half of the able-bodied men. In so doing, the mountainous regions accounted for more than 80% of all migrants.
When new contemporary elements of productive forces were brought to Daghestan, this was in keeping with the efforts to industrialize and carry out mass collectivization of Russia’s “backward” environs. At the first stage of development, this policy made it possible to employ significant masses of the republic’s most abundant resource—labor. Nevertheless, in order to implement the ideas of industrialization, eliminate illiteracy, and develop health care, qualified personnel were recruited to this Soviet autonomy from other regions of the Soviet Union, particularly from Russia. But the natural increase in the able-bodied population objectively made it possible for people to leave the villages en masse. The labor market could not expand fast enough to keep up with this process. Despite active urbanization, the percentage of urban residents had increased to only 29.6% by 1959 and to 39.8% by 2001. The cities have still not been able to completely stir the rural migrants into their melting pots, since the mentality of these people changes slowly. Since the 1960s, many representatives of the indigenous population began to leave the republic, moving along traditional migrant routes. What is more, as national personnel became qualified, the need for such specialists from other areas of the Soviet Union declined, and in the 1970s, members of the non-indigenous population began to leave the republic. And representatives of the indigenous population, who left the republic, also settled all over the Soviet Union. For example, in 1959, 208,000 Daghestanis (21% of their total number) lived beyond the republic. Between 1959 and 1989, the size of the indigenous population in Daghestan increased 1.96-fold, in the rest of the Soviet Union, three-fold, whereby in Russia, five-fold. As a result of such intensive migration, the percentage of Daghestani nationalities that left for other regions of the R.F.S.F.R. increased from 6.2% in 1959 to 14.7% in 1989, and those that went to other Union republics rose to 30.3%, that is, during this period, the republic’s population declined by 170,000 people, or by approximately 15% of its total, due to migration. This is only slightly less than the percentage of Russians who departed during this time (22%).
Among the reasons for the active migration of Daghestanis were their business activity and their inclination toward innovation, economic risk, and so on. It goes without saying that in a market economy, the role of such factors dramatically increases.
The republic is still one of the few parts of Russia in which there is a high fertility rate, which ensures the quantitative replacement of one generation by the next and an increase in labor resources. In so doing, approximately half of the people of able-bodied age are dependents. The measures designated as early as Soviet times to augment the number of jobs were not implemented. In other words, the main factor motivating people to leave traditionally labor-abundant Daghestan has for decades been the low level of its economic development (the population, regardless of nationality and all other things being equal, always strives for places where it is possible to earn a living).
Daghestan ranks last in Russia in terms of almost every economic and social index, each of which expressed in absolute per capita terms is currently 2-3-fold lower than on average around the country. This is due to the production structure that has developed in it. During the pre-reform period (the 1980s), the per capita production potential in the republic was 3.7-fold lower than on average throughout Russia and 2.2-fold lower than in the Northern Caucasus. Incidentally, investments always seem to give Daghestan a wide berth. This is shown at least by the fact that during the last thirty years of the pre-reform period the amount of investments per capita was almost two-fold lower than on average throughout Russia. In so doing, most of them were used to develop the electric power industry, and the production capacities created were used for processing imported raw material and manufacturing sets of equipment for the enterprises of other regions.
The agrarian sector is still the leading sphere in the republic’s production structure. It is characterized by a low level of provision with agricultural land, a high (by local standards) percentage of mountainous and high mountainous areas that are not very suitable for diversified production, and the retention of former specializations (cattle breeding, wine growing, and so on), which are economically unprofitable in the state’s current system of price formation and foreign economic activity. Under market conditions, these processes have predetermined the low competitive opportunities of Daghestan with its traditional overpopulation. And migration during the past ten years has been very unstable, rapidly changing its direction, dimensions, structure, and intensity.
As a result of the stress experienced by the population after the Soviet Union collapsed and in the wake of the economic crisis, foreign migration in Daghestan slowed down, as it did throughout Russia as a whole. But whereas at the beginning of the 1990s, its intensity was 2.8-fold higher than the overall Russian level, against the background of the almost two-fold drop in the entire migration circulation (total comings and goings) in 1991-2001, this index increased up to 3.3-fold in the republic. In so doing, the intensity of foreign migration among Daghestanis compared with the residents of other areas of the country diminished at a faster rate (apart from during the last three years).
During the 1990s, the migration flow has changed directions twice. We will note that before the 1990s, the migration flow in the republic was negative (that is, the number of those leaving was higher than those arriving). It was largely representatives of the indigenous able-bodied population who left the republic, mainly from rural areas. In 1990-1996, the situation dramatically changed: the migration flow became positive, that is, the number of those arriving was higher than the number leaving the republic (by a total of 24,500 people, 83% of them coming from CIS countries). Most of them (more than 75%) were Lezghians, Darghins, Avars, Lakhs, and Nogais returning home from the republics of the former Soviet Union, including from other regions of Russia. (Incidentally, in 2001, their percentage amounted to 69%, in 2000 to 76%, in 1999 to 74%, and in 1998 to 81%, and to 56% among those leaving.) They mainly came from Chechnia, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan. But at that time, more than 41,000 Russians left Daghestan for good.
Then in 1997, the migration balance started to tip in the other direction again. On the whole, three migration vectors can be singled out: Russian regions, other CIS and Baltic countries, and countries of the Far Abroad.
Daghestanis began to emigrate permanently to the Far Abroad (the U.S., Israel, Canada, Germany, and other countries) during the second half of the 1980s, and between 1990 and 2001, there were about 13,000 people in this category. This emigration flow is clearly ethnic in nature, since mainly Jews, mountain Jews, and Tats left the republic (more than 90% went to Israel). The peak of activity in this migration category came in 1991 and again in 1994-1995. Nevertheless, citizens from the Far Abroad are also coming into the republic, particularly young people (citizens of Vietnam, Laos, India, and others) to study at its universities.
The second migration vector is between Daghestan and the former Soviet republics. During the past eleven years, there has been a stable positive balance here. On the whole, representatives of the indigenous nationalities come to the republic. For example, in 1997, they amounted to 78% of all the incomers, to 82% in 1998, to 80% in 1999, to 81% in 2000, and to 65% in 2001. The ethnic breakdown in this process is characterized as follows: most Avars came from Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Kazakhstan; Darghins from Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan; Lakhs from Uzbekistan and Tajikistan; Lezghians from Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan; and Kumyks from Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. In so doing, the majority come from Azerbaijan (32%), Kazakhstan (26%), Turkmenistan (16%), and Uzbekistan (11%). A negative migration balance has formed with Belarus. Migration exchanges with the Baltic countries, Armenia, Moldova, and Georgia have practically exhausted themselves.
The third vector is so-called interregional migration, that is, people moving to live permanently or temporarily in other republics, as well as in territories and regions of the Russian Federation. In 1991-1996, the interregional migration balance was positive, largely due to migrants from Chechnia (even without counting war refugees), and then it became negative again, which is mainly explained by the unstable situation in the region due to the hostilities in Chechnia, as well as in Daghestan. Most migrants do not leave the Northern Caucasus, they settle in the Stavropol and Krasnodar territories and in the Rostov Region. As for more distant areas, they are mainly (in terms of attractiveness) Moscow and the Moscow Region, the Tver and Tula regions, the Volga area (the Astrakhan, Volgograd, and Saratov regions, and Kalmykia), and Western Siberia (the Tiumen Region). But whereas people usually leave for the Tiumen Region and Kalmykia temporarily, to work, they leave to live permanently in the other regions. In so doing, more than 200,000 Daghestanis of all nationalities are officially registered in the Northern Caucasus and the Volga area, but in actual fact there are many more of them in these areas.
In recent years, there have been cases of aggravated relations between the local residents and the Daghestanis coming into certain areas, the most acute being in the Stavropol Territory in 1993 (with the Cossacks), and also in Kalmykia, and the Astrakhan Region. After abandoning their traditional profession of cattle breeding, some Daghestanis began engaging in business, which helped them to live much better than many members of the local population. What is more, the migrants were setting high prices on the local markets and often treating the old residents disparagingly.
Although these factors may be partly justified, other sides of the problem must also be taken into consideration. First, the moral and ethical aspect. At one time, cattle breeding in the Northern Caucasus and the Volga area suffered an acute shortage of laborers. This niche was filled by surplus manpower from Daghestan, and many workers even ended up living there permanently. So there can be no justification for banishing hard-working conscientious laborers. What is more, the increase in private holdings and the high income of migrants have nothing to do with any special features of the Daghestani national makeup. The crux of the matter here is that people have left their native villages in search of a living, and this always stimulates active and innovative approaches in them no matter what nationality they are.
The second aspect is ethnic and political: putting pressure on Daghestanis and expelling them is aroused and fed by local nationalism in our republic, as a result of which its Russian and Russian-speaking people are falling victim to the crude adherents of this idea and being forced to leave for Russia, where they are swelling the ranks of the unemployed. In this way, Daghestan’s currently negative migration balance is largely forming due to the departure of Russians, Ukrainians, Belorussians, Armenians, Jews, and Tatars.
Russians are one of the largest nationalities in Daghestan (40 years ago, they were the second largest, amounting to 20%) and mainly live (approximately 80%) in all the republic’s cities and most of its urban-type settlements. Their percentage is relatively high in Makhachkala and Kaspiisk, and in Kizliar, they even constitute about half of the population.
Nevertheless, their exodus from the republic is a long-term trend. But whereas before the end of the 1980s the percentage of those leaving annually amounted on average to 0.5% of the total number of Russians in the republic, beginning in 1989, this index dramatically increased. In so doing, their departure is at times reminiscent of a mass stampede. Whereas over thirty years (1959-1988), the number of Russians in Daghestan dropped by 22%, during the past ten years (1990-2001) it has declined by almost 30%, and today Russians account for only 5.5% of the republic’s residents.
Increased attention to this problem from the Daghestan government, local administrations, and public, as a whole, promoted a relative slowing of the Russian migration rates in 1994. But when the hostilities began in Chechnia, these rates began to rise again.
The reasons for this process (along with economic factors) include the following.
1. The ethnocultural environment in the cities has significantly changed, which is explained by the intensive inflow of people from the rural regions. And although the traditional rural culture of migrants is perceptibly transformed under urban conditions, such a rapid rise in the number of new city dwellers has led to an overall reduction in the urbanization of Daghestan’s cities. In combination with the large number of different nationalities, this is leading to an increase in social anemia. Adherence to the typically urban norms of social relations has declined and conflict-prone situations have increased, which mostly affect Russian and Russian-speaking city dwellers, thus prompting them to leave the republic.
2. The general disorganization of public life, the activation of criminal structures, poor observation of the law, and the inability of the state structures to ensure the protection of elementary citizen rights (and these factors particularly affect Russian and Russian-speaking residents). Russians have the lowest level of legal protection. Criminal cases are bandied back and forth from one investigator to another, from one court to the next. Decisions are not made on them, and deadlines for executing them are grossly violated. Courts frequently issue illegal and unjustified verdicts, and in some cases, the decisions adopted are not carried out due to lack of control. What is more, law enforcement employees themselves (including public prosecutors) often violate the law with respect to Russian-speaking residents, which gives the latter a feeling of helplessness in their ability to restore justice, and the violators a sense of their impunity.
Russians complain about everyday prejudice toward their children. During a sociological poll, two thirds of the respondents noted that they come up against situations in their daily life where their national dignity is insulted. (Only every fifth indigenous Daghestani noted this.) Russians’ lack of protection against criminal tyranny is aggravated by the fact that they usually do not have (due to the circumstances) a developed system of kinship and other paternal relations on which to rely in face of the growing bedlam.
3. They are being prompted to leave not only for internal “Daghestani” reasons. In the psychological respect, an important role is played by the hotbeds of real and potential ethnic tension in the states and Russian republics neighboring on Daghestan, which threaten the life of people of different nationalities, including Russians, even when they are neither the targets nor the direct participants in the conflicts.
An important reason for leaving (particularly on the part of Russians and Russian-speaking people) is moral and psychological pressure (the spreading of rumors, leaflets, and publications on possible terrorist acts and diversions, Daghestan’s imminent separation from the Russian Federation, and the formation of an Islamic state in the republic). Against the background of the numerous murders and kidnappings, the stealing of transportation vehicles and cattle, the increase in the role of Islam, and the activation of extremist organizations, people are being made to believe that these rumors and threats are true.
These problems and ethnic conflicts are being manifested most acutely in the north of the republic (Kizliar, the Kizliar and Tarumovka districts), places where Russians traditionally live. In thirty years, the size of the population has grown 1.49-fold in this area, but the number of Russians has decreased 1.69-fold (over the past 12 years, 1.19- and 1.23-fold, respectively). At present, there are no longer any Russians living in 22 population settlements (out of 89) in the Kizliar District, 50 villages have very few Russian residents, and they constitute more than half of the population in only 17 settlements. Five of the 24 population settlements in the Tarumovka District do not have any Russian residents, twelve have very few, and in only seven do they constitute more than half of the residents.
The main reasons for this situation are the difficulties in the economic and social spheres. The republic’s potential is not in demand. Production branches that Russians traditionally work in are on the brink of collapse: industry, wine growing, irrigated farming, fishing, pig breeding, and so on. Coincidental circumstances have dramatically aggravated the situation: the removal of restrictions in the religious sphere (Russians see the building of a large number of mosques and the opening of madrasahs as Islamization of the region), activation of the movement to revive the Cossacks, the growing avalanche of crime (the formation in several cases of criminal groups according to nationality), direct threats against Russians in order to push them out of prestigious jobs and evict them from good (by local standards) apartments. For example, in Kizliar, only 29% of the enterprises and organizations in operation are headed by Russians (whereby Russians constitute 45% of the city’s population), and only 14% of the directors in the agricultural structures of the Kizliar District are Russian (whereby Russians constitute 23% of the rural population).
The diametrically opposite approaches to evaluating these processes of the administration heads of Kizliar and the districts, on the one hand, and the directors of different nationalities of industrial and other enterprises, and sociopolitical organizations, on the other, are also having a negative effect on the sociopolitical situation. The first think that certain ethnic groups have recently being putting distinct pressure on the city and regional authorities, as well as on Russian directors of enterprises and organizations. All of this is happening against a background of numerous murders and kidnappings, the stealing of vehicles and cattle, and the raping of girls, primarily Russian. Representatives of the Daghestani nationalities, on the other hand, are saying that their interests are being infringed, particularly with respect to the selection and appointment of personnel. These factors have recently been joined by unauthorized resettlement and the seizure of land on which refugees from Chechnia, who are ethnic Daghestanis, are being accommodated (the Tarumovka District).
Representatives of all nationalities indicate family circumstances, changing jobs, leaving to study, the aggravation in ethnic relations and the criminal situation as the reasons for migration when filling out departure registration forms. The percentage of migrants indicating the first factor as the reason for their departure has increased two-fold in the past ten years (from 30 to 61%), and those leaving to work or study has decreased 1.2-fold (from 30 to 25%).
It is understandable that the relatively small number of reasons to be picked from in the registration forms cannot account for all the diversity of life’s circumstances, and the procedure for filling them out (indicating name and other information) does not encourage openness among the applicants. Therefore, this information does not reflect all the reasons and their significance for deciding to leave Daghestan.
One of the features of the current migration processes is the departure of entire families of able-bodied age, since it was usually individual family members who left to earn a living, whereby this was more characteristic of the Russian population. As a result, the percentage of elderly people is dramatically rising among the Russians who remain.
There is the opinion that Russians are being evicted from the republic in response to the disparaging attitude toward “people of Caucasian nationality” in several Russian regions. Without denying that this takes place, it should be noted that in general the population of Daghestan does not harbor negative feelings toward Russians and does not associate them with those adversities immigrants from the republic have to tolerate in some republics, territories, and regions of the Russian Federation. This is confirmed by the studies of the reasons for migration of the population in Daghestan conducted by the Daghestan State Statistics Board in cooperation with the republic’s Interior Ministry and the Daghestan Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1994 (the year the largest number of people came to the republic). Only 6.8% of the respondents said they came to Daghestan due to aggravated ethnic relations and discrimination, including 4.3% of those who came from Russia, 17% of those from Central Asia, and 20% of those who arrived from the Southern Caucasus. In so doing, these were mainly middle-aged and elderly people.
Another type of migration should be noted, which is admittedly not so significant, but nevertheless characterizes the situation to some extent. During the reforms, a certain percentage of Daghestanis, having earned significant amounts of money beyond the republic, tried to settle down in their homeland using their accumulated experience and capital. In previous years, this generally had a positive effect on business activity in Daghestan. But now another trend is becoming apparent: the nouveau riche Daghestanis want stability and clarity, but instead have encountered a system of criminal patronage and kidnapping. So they are folding up their businesses in the republic and leaving in order to preserve their fortunes, protect the members of their family from possible violence, and not participate in the conflicts. Daghestan is losing the most active members of its “middle” class—the bastion needed for reviving the republic’s economy.
Migration processes are increasingly having an effect on the change in the national makeup and size of the population and on territorial settlement.
The unequal economic and social development of districts and cities, the inefficient economic development associated with this, the extremely low income of most residents, and mass unemployment are leading to the intensive resettlement of people within the republic, which in turn is aggravating the already embroiled land relations, housing, and other problems. Such processes are inevitably magnifying old and giving rise to new ethnic controversies, leading to greater criminalization of society, and exacerbating other negative social phenomena (drug addiction, prostitution, and so on). But interrepublican migration is almost twice as high in intensity as foreign, and is acquiring an increasingly pronounced ethnic character.
The federal socioeconomic development program for the republic’s mountainous areas is not working due to underfinancing. In the past five years, an official decline in population has been noted in 18 of the 22 mountainous areas (10,000 people), with an increase (5,000 people) registered in only four.
All the same, migration data do not reflect the true state of affairs. Thousands of citizens leaving their places of permanent residence (registration) for months (and sometimes for years) are not reflected in the statistics. This is characteristic both of interrepublican (mainly those leaving rural areas for the city) and of foreign migration. The statistics on foreign migration of the population and its presence for the republic as a whole are distorted, in our estimates, by at least 10%.
Forced and compulsory migration should be singled out in terms of methods and reasons, which have a significant effect on the settlement of people and on the nature of their interrelations in Daghestan. Several stages can be singled out in the forms of migration which took place during the past century.
The 1990s should be classified as one of the last stages in forced resettlement, when due to ethnic tension, many Daghestanis returned to their homeland. There are approximately 2,000 families (9,300 people) living in the republic who were forced to leave their places of permanent residence in the Guriev Region of Kazakhstan in 1989-1990. They are mainly located in the regions of Southern Daghestan, which is traditionally distinguished by high unemployment and a low level of personal income, whereby some of these families still do not have their own housing. One hundred and thirty-six families of Lakhs and other Daghestani nationalities returned from Tajikistan in 1993, approximately 200 families of Avars came from Georgia (the Kvareli District), and recently people have also been coming from other regions of the Northern Caucasus. There have been numerous cases when Daghestani families (mainly Darghin), who have lived for two or three generations in the peripheral eastern and southeastern regions of the Stavropol Territory, began to leave en masse due to pressure from the local Cossacks, and returned to their homeland.
According to the Daghestan Migration Service, since official registration began (July 1992), more than 4,000 families (14,000 people) who arrived in the republic have been recognized as forced migrants and refugees. As of 1 August, 2002, there were still 2,900 such families (9,600 people). Sixty-four percent of them came from Chechnia, and the rest from Central Asia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia. The overwhelming majority (75%) of forced migrants and refugees registered in the republic are members of the indigenous nationalities of Daghestan, 18% are Russians, and 3% are Chechens. They are scattered over almost the entire republic and live with relatives and acquaintances, or in privately rented housing. Many came without anything to live on, no job, and have no other sources of permanent income, that is, they are in desperate need of financial support.
Due to the renewed hostilities in Chechnia, according to official data, 5,000 families came from this republic to Daghestan between August 1999 and August 2002 (8,600 people, 41% of them children). Three hundred and fifty-three families (915 people) announced their desire to remain here permanently. Three hundred and fifty families (903 people, 45% of them children) obtained the status of forced migrants. As a result of the stabilization in the situation, 1,231 families (3,210 people) returned to their places of permanent residence in Chechnia, and 10 families (32 people) were sent to other regions of Russia.
Returning to the question of compulsory resettlement of mountain dwellers in the valleys, the attitude toward this process cannot be unequivocal. On the one hand, this socioeconomic task, which consists of two indissolubly united parts—eliminating or alleviating the agrarian overpopulation in the mountains and assimilating the valleys—has largely been dealt with by means of planned resettlement, which has promoted an overall upswing in the Daghestan economy. At the same time, the administrative-command methods used to organize this resettlement, which are reminiscent of the extreme cases of the “planned” resettlement of Chechens and other nationalities during Soviet times, naturally deserve a negative assessment. This resettlement in itself, in combination with the miscalculations made when collectivizing the mountain farms (with respect to destroying khutors [separate farmsteads]), led to the fact that much of the cultivated land was abandoned and the structure of land utilization in the mountains deteriorated. And this caused a drastic rise not in “planned,” but in voluntary (or to be more precise, spontaneous) migration from the mountains.
The population exodus will in all likelihood continue, since the reasons for it still exist and are long-term in nature. After all, there are no serious signs that jobs are being actively created in the republic, the influence of the criminal factor and cult of violence is being significantly reduced, or opportunities for raising the general standard of the urban culture are appearing.
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People come to Daghestan and leave it, as well as change their place of residence within the republic itself. This is an objective process in keeping with the general world trends. But the bigger the difference in economic potential of the regions of Daghestan, Russia, and neighboring countries, the greater the migration flow.
The inequality of the economic systems in different regions of the Russian Federation, including in our republic, is making it increasingly difficult for them to be competitive and is expressed in their varying level of ability to adapt to the conditions of a free market. This must be taken into account when validating the government’s regional development strategy, which should be based on supporting territories that are less capable for objective reasons of actively assimilating innovations. This kind of strategy should set forth a place in advance for a specific administrative entity on the domestic (regional), national (Russian) and foreign (international) markets, keeping in mind its geographical location and specific stage of socioeconomic development. A criterion for the efficient use of the region’s resources should be fuller satisfaction of social needs providing the total consumption of deficit resources is minimized (in Daghestan—land, capital, etc.) and surplus resources (in Daghestan—the able-bodied population) are maximized at the particular level of development in productive forces.
Prohibitive administrative measures will not stop migration. It will exist anyway, but with criminal features, by means of bribery and without registration. The ethnic diversity of cities (and Russia as a whole) is growing (and will continue to grow) as the economy grows. This is inevitable and must be acknowledged. The state’s task is to minimize the negative consequences of migration by means of political and economic measures. Of course, confessional differences must be taken into account and the representatives of all faiths given the opportunity to practice their religious rites and traditions. But we should not have separate Islamic general education schools, and separate Orthodox or Judaic schools.
The problem also lies in the ethnocultural differences of the people who leave their places of permanent residence. Their integration into new conditions, traditions, and cultures is not an easy process. But if all these factors are not taken into account, society as a whole may well disintegrate.