Vakhit AKAEV

Vakhit Akaev, Chief Research Fellow at the Integrated Scientific-Research Institute, Russian Academy of Sciences (Grozny, the Russian Federation)


On 23 January, 2012, Nezavisimaia gazeta carried an article by Prime Minister of Russia Vladimir Putin entitled Russia: The National Question, which took the Russian public by surprise. Indeed, this was the first time in his twelve years on the political Olympus that the Russian leader had turned to the national question. The article invited very contradictory opinions and sent waves in all directions.

The presidential candidate (he was elected president a couple of months later) tried to analyze various aspects of national relations in Russiaa fact which in itself deserves the close attention of the expert community. And it was with this aim that I too took up the pen. I live in the Chechen Republic, the most complicated and conflict-prone constituency of the Russian Federation (part of the North Caucasian Federal District, which also includes the Stavropol Territory and all of the North Caucasian republics, with the exception of Adigey, which belongs to the Southern Federal District).

Vladimir Putin: The National Question

It seems that the presidential candidate turned his attention to the national question in Russia under the pressure of the rising tension that became obvious some six years ago and has been steadily climbing. The events of September 2006 in Kondopoga were the beginning: the conflict that arose in this Karelian town had criminal overtones and ended in the murder of two local crime bosses.

This stirred up the local people; migrants from the Caucasus were attacked, their property burnt down; and over 100 rioters were arrested. To avoid further disturbances, about 60 people of Caucasian origin were evacuated to Petrozavodsk.

On 24 May, 2007, Stavropol was shaken by another ethnic conflict when a Chechen student G. Ataev was killed in a massive scuffle. On 3 June, two Russian studentsD. Blokhin and P. Chadinwere found murdered. The Chechens have taken revenge for the death of their friend, was the common opinion.

On 11 June, 2007, an impromptu rally in Stavropol gathered about 700; as could be expected, it developed into mass disturbances. The gathering demanded the removal of Chechens and Caucasian migrants in general from the city. Alexander Chernovolov, who was more active than the rest, stirred up the crowd with nationalist slogans and called on the local authorities to evict all non-Russians from the city, using barefaced obscenities to describe them. The law enforcers instigated a criminal case against him under Art 282 Incitement of National, Racial, or Religious Enmity of the RF Criminal Code. Over 50 other rioters were detained.

On 27 November, 2010, in a scuffle between several dozen Cossacks and Chechens in Zelenokumsk (the Stavropol Territory), several Cossacks were wounded and one Chechen received a head injury. The clash was caused by the attempted rape of a 15-year-old girl, which had

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