Konstantin Kazenin

kazenin's picture
Konstantin Kazenin
Senior Fellow
Gaidar Institute

Online press conference with Konstantin Kazenin, researcher at Gaydar institute and the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Service.



David Stepanyan, www.arminfo.am

- The North Caucasus is traditionally considered to be a sore point in Russia, the most heavily exposed to outside influences. Does the situation is somehow in touch with the latest trends in the foreign policy of Moscow?

Answer - I would say that the main change concerns the media situation around the North Caucasus and the North Caucasus. Since the beginning of the Ukrainian events in North Caucasus has ceased to be the subject of priority attention of the media, permanent and largely meaningless debates on TV, alarmist statements of various public figures. Not that completely stopped, but it became less, and in any case it is good, although, of course, less noise around the problems does not mean that these problems are solved.

With regard to the communication situation in the North Caucasus with the outside influence, I have for many years, spending in the North Caucasus republics of field research, I think the attention to this connection is disproportionately large. In general, this is a typical, unfortunately, the thing on the post-Soviet space: any country or territory across the globe to discuss, within the framework of global political processes, freeing himself from all professional study of what is happening "out there inside." Such discussions often remind me personally of "pique vests."

This does not mean that foreign policy should be forgotten, but, in my view, a serious conversation about the North Caucasus still have to start with the fact that the region, especially the eastern part, in the last decade has been the scene of large-scale and very painful social changes. This landslide urbanization, mass move to the city (for example, the actual population of Makhachkala for 25 years has grown by many estimates, more than three times). The implication of this - the breaking of the rural way of life, the usual system of relations, informal rules of acting in society. And at the same time of the break-up of urban life, which was prior to the mass migration from the countryside to the cities. This tectonic social changes inevitably generates tremendous social tensions, and through it - and the emergence of radical ideologies. Yes, these are some external players, but this is a consequence. It is clear that no radical preacher, be he an agent at least five powers at the same time, no one will be able to attract to their side when in any part of society is no demand for radical ideas.

Therefore, to understand what is happening in the North Caucasus, as well as on any other site, located objectively "at risk", we must first talk about internal processes and problems. External players can sharpen them as something to play for them, but they do not create them.

- One of the most active players in the North Caucasus - Ankara today preoccupied settling internal crisis of power. Whether viewed in this light background gain influence in the Russian region post-sanctioned Iran?

Answer - Today I do not see any specific technologies, for which Turkey and Iran could increase its influence in the North Caucasus. Turkey is still in the 90s often building their actions in the former Soviet Union by supporting national movements of the Turkic peoples. But today in the North Caucasus do this it would be very difficult. A number of Turkic ethnic groups of the North Caucasus today there are enough prominent ethnic community organizations and activists. First of all, this applies to Kumyks in Dagestan and Balkars in Kabardino-Balkaria. But, first, they are now fully focused on the purely local, first of all - the land problem that is difficult to go again to the ideas of "Great Turan", or something like that. Secondly, these organizations and activists, often being in opposition to regional authorities, emphasize their loyalty to the government federal, and therefore are unlikely to be interested somehow play along with Ankara.

As for Iran, the North Caucasus it is still perceived primarily as a Shiite power, and those of Islam, which are now increasing their influence in the North Caucasus, emphasized by Shi'ism far.

If we talk about the economic presence of Turkey and Iran, it is now in the North Caucasus is not enough in order to be converted into something political.

- Thousands of Azerbaijani tourists prefer to go to Russia circuitous route through Georgia and PPC "Lars", bypassing Azerbaijan-Dagestan border, citing the unfriendly attitude of the Lezgins. What, in your opinion, is caused by unfriendly Russian citizens against southern neighbors and how it meets the interests of Russia?

Answer - I believe that the reason for rejection of "Derbent transit" is a different one. This is, firstly, to draw from the media information about the insecure general situation in Dagestan, and secondly, the memories of the difficulties to overcome checkpoints on the Russian-Azerbaijani border in the early post-Soviet years (however, those memories have not prevented a significant number of the inhabitants of Azerbaijan travel to Makhachkala for bargain car after the December collapse of the ruble).

Now the situation is better in those areas, although far from ideal. As for the "unfriendly attitude Lezgins" this stamp Azerbaijani media 90s. I can not refer to any opinion polls, except to say that I see myself: young, active people of southern Daghestan keen interest in what is happening in Azerbaijan, many there regularly happen (not only in the areas inhabited by tribesmen, Lezgins), note taking place change, considering options for business cooperation. Complications occurred in 90 years, allowed cross-border relations in a very bad "track", but the younger generation, as far as I can tell, not interested to slide on it further. While there are, of course, the objective problems, for example, the problem of Samur water.

- Of the approximately 20 million Russian Muslims, including those living in the North Caucasus, the ranks of terrorists IG post Neboli two thousand. Can you against this background that today is a real threat to Russia from the IG?

Answer - "non-traditional" Islam, as this term is commonly understood as Islamic groups are not loyal to the regional Spiritual Administration of Muslims - has a significant impact on the lives of several Muslim regions of Russia, especially in Dagestan, although his active followers they constitute a small percentage of the population. Supporters of terrorist LIH, of course, do not form a majority, even among non-traditional Muslims, however, in many indirect signs vie for influence among them. If only for this reason is not considered a real threat LIH impossible.

Newspaper «Hetq», www.hetq.am

- In the past, the North Caucasus is a weak link in the structure of the internal security of Russia. As things stand today, and what factors is the reason? How, in your opinion, it corresponds to the realities of the title of a recent report by the International Crisis Group, "Chechnya - Russian internal abroad"?

Answer - As I said, the features and problems of the North Caucasus are derived primarily from what historical stage, he is being held. This objective things, for the year - for two here will not change anything. With regard to Chechnya, it is very different not only from the central regions of Russia, but also from the neighboring republics of the North Caucasus. The root of the differences in one: Chechnya fought for almost 15 years. Other republics of the North Caucasus such experience, thank God, did not have. What it gave the result? First of all, such that "if only there was no war" - today a key request a significant part of the Chechen population. And it is ready to accept any regional power, any "rules of the game" at the local level unless it guarantees peace.

The situation in Chechnya will inevitably begin to change, but only when they start to grow and become more complex available in Chechen society requests. To do this, by the way, are not necessarily a change of generations.

- Where does the North Caucasus in the relations between Russia and Azerbaijan, Russia and Turkey in the context of current international processes?

Answer - I'm sorry, but I will answer only to questions about their specialization, the North Caucasus.

- Are there objective data on Islamist sentiment in the North Caucasus, as far as the general population in the region as for the threat from the IG?

Answer - It has already been said.


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