Ali Salgiriev, Ph.D. (Political Science), Leading Research Associate, Sector of Philosophy and Sociology, Institute of Humanitarian Studies, Academy of Sciences of the Chechen Republic (Grozny, Russian Federation)


The Northern Caucasus is home to over 100 peoples who belong to numerous tribes, teips, tukums, families, clans, pressure groups, etc. It is a polyethnic and polyconfessional region, in which the interests of the federal administrative, and local political elites are closely intertwined. Life has taught us that in this context ethnopolitical clashes and contradictions can hardly be avoided.

Here I analyze the political elites as the key actor in the regional political process that is gradually gaining weight at the federal level. Any analysis of the threats and risks in the Caucasus pays particular attention to the ethnopolitical elites and their stratification as one of the important factors. This suggests that the structure and place of the political elites in the Northern Caucasus, the mechanism of their formation, as well as axiological attitudes and aims should be carefully studied. Indeed, one cannot but wonder about those who belong to the group of the chosen ones and the way they replenish their ranks. The article analyzes the opinion that the current quality and structure of the elites is fraught with regional conflicts and tension.

To identify the elites, the author selects a reputational approach and has correlated it with the altimetric and decisional approaches. I describe the ethnopolitical elite as a privileged and politically dominating group of people that occupies the leading position in public institutions and directly affects decision-making.

The expert community has still not arrived at a concerted opinion about the role of ethnic elites in the political processes in the region. Some experts are convinced that the local elites play a positive role in defusing national tension, containing local conflicts, promoting civilian dialog, etc. Others tend to think that the ethnopolitical elites pursue their own interests, haggle with the federal elite over subsidies and interest zones, and play a destructive role in the political process. I side with the latter: the ethnopolitical elites of the Northern Caucasus are biased; they function on an informal patron-client basis instead of listening to the opinions of the people and following them.

This article gives recommendations on how to defuse ethnopolitical tension in the Northern Caucasus.

Keywords: Russia, the Northern Caucasus, elites, political elites, ethnopolitical elites, ethnoelites, federal elites, bureaucrats, tension, conflicts, interests, corruption, clans, power, political process.

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