Day: July 12, 2009

Enemies within

At Prague Watchdog, Sergei Markedonov writes about Russia’s “internal aliens” – the peoples of the North Caucasus republics who either live there as native residents, or as migrants to the towns and cities of Russia further to the north. Markedonov believes that a solution to the conflict and tension that has racked the North Caucasus both in the past and in the present could be found if there was a two-way exchange of recognition and acceptance between the inhabitants of the region and the inhabitants of the rest of Russia:

it is obvious that the formation of a new (non-ethnocratic) Russian Caucasus elite would be strategically far more useful than the introduction of counter-terrorist operation regimes and additional troops in the Caucasian republics (where they will be rejected by the local population and exist in the conditions that were described by Tolstoy in his Prisoner of the Caucasus). But for this, there is one small requirement. It is not only that migrants from the Caucasian republics must see Russia as their Fatherland. Russians themselves must view Chechens, Ingush, Kabardinians or Lezgins as their fellow citizens, and not as aliens or the “enemy within”. In their turn, for this to be possible, Russians must perceive the North Caucasus region not only as a place to travel to on temporary assignments, but also as their homeland (as was the case for many generations of Cossacks and peasants who headed for this region after the “Great Reforms”).