How many Russians are left in Dagestan, Chechnya and Ingushetia?

The "derussification" of the North Caucasus region has reached its critical point.

Recently, the president's envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District (NCFD) Alexander Khloponin discussed with the head of the Tersk Cossack , Vasily Bondarev, issues of joint efforts in policing in the region. The envoy expressed hope that Cossacks will gain a foothold in Dagestan and other turbulent republics.

Attempts to bring back or at least to hold the Russian-speaking population in the North Caucasus were made even before Kholopinin's appointment. One of the first to raise this issue was the president's envoy to the South Federal District Viktor Kazantsev. In the last few years the authorities of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia have made attempts to realize programs aimed at the return of Russian-speaking people. But there are not many who want to come back. Apparently refugees have not forgotten the circumstances under which they had to abandon their homes and are not confident of a safe return.

The process of derussification in the North Caucasus has reached its peak in the last few years, believes the head of the South Federal Centre of Regional Researches and Forecasting Viktor Chernous. Some North Caucasus republics are turning into mono-ethnic regions as a result of the Russians' exodus. Meanwhile the displacement of the Russian-speaking population from the industrial sphere, science and education weakens the economic, scientific and technical spheres.

The first to realize this problem was Dagestan, where the authorities have accepted several projects to give special incentives to ethnic Russians. The State Council has included ethnic Russians into the list of national minorities vested with additional guarantees and privileges, including quotas for studying in universities and colleges.

Along with other privileges, there is an unspoken principle of an unofficial ethnic-based assignment of quotas for the Russian-speaking population in Dagestan. According to the data published by the Ministry for National Policy in December, more that 9.5% of top-officials are ethnic Russians, yet they make up only 4.7% of the population in the republic. For example, the mayor of Kizlyar is Russian.

The authorities of Ingushetia, in which Russians nowadays constitute only 2% of the population, have also made attempts to implement such program, but experienced difficulties. The murders of Russian-speaking people that took place in the republic in 2006-2007 have thrown into question even the slight possibility of Russians' repatriation.

In recent years, a few Russians have returned to Chechnya, where the revival of a multinational community was declared to be a top-priority issue by President Ramzan Kadyrov. According to official data, no more than 200 Russian-speaking families have returned to the republic. Nevertheless, experts believe the economic and social development of Chechnya is impossible without the return of the Russian-speaking
population. Notwithstanding the high level of unemployment, the republic is experiencing a dramatic lack of specialists, especially in the spheres of health service and education.

The Archbishop of Stavropol and Vladikavkaz Feofan addressed Kadyrov with a request to make conditions favorable for the repatriation of Russian teachers.

"Before the war outbreak many Russian teachers worked in Chechen schools and their return could become a cultural link between our peoples," said the archbishop during his visit to Grozny. At his side, Kadyrov noted that there is a program of the repatriation of the Russian-speaking population: "People come back and get employed. We provide them with accommodation and everything that is possible to help them settle in the republic."

Meanwhile it is hardly possible to find Russian surnames in the lists of those who will receive compensation for lost property, although in 1989 more than 360,000 Russian-speaking people lived in the republic. Now the number of ethnic Russians has been reduced to 40,000, just 4% of population. Most of them are senior citizens, from traditionally Cossack villages, who simply unable to leave the republic.

Alexander Vladimirov. Exclusive for VK

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