TALLINN, Estonia, Nov. 26 (UPI) -- Fascism in the Russian Federation is generating anti-Russian attitudes among many in the northern Caucasus who until recently had been loyal to Moscow, a development that may point toward even greater violence across that region in the future, according to the major of the Daghestani city of Khasavyurt.
In an interview conducted by the Regnum news agency and posted online by IslamNews.ru earlier this month, Mayor Saygidpasha Umakhanov said that fascism among Russian officials and ordinary Russian citizens is creating an explosive situation in many regions of the northern Caucasus. His words on this point merit extensive quotation.
"Peoples in the Caucasus today are humiliated and abused," Umakhanov said. "Every day one or two corpses are returned to the Caucasus from the center of Russia -- and these are precisely the victims of fascism. But these fascists," he continued, "like in Voronezh are called simply hooligans."
At the same time, the Khasavyurt mayor said, "in the Caucasus itself, [Russian security forces frequently] shoot at people who have no connections with terrorism only because they are accidentally acquainted with suspicious personalities."
Moreover, he continued, "it is no secret that there exist an unjust division of Russians into classes, the 'white' and the 'black' races. Skinheads are shown on television solemnly swearing to destroy all non-Russians and shouting slogans like 'Russia for the Russians.'"
"And when we today do not see in the administration of the President or in the federal government or in the force structures a single representative of the national minorities of the Caucasus, the thought begins to creep into our minds: is there someone in the leadership of the country supporting the fascists?"
"We here in the Caucasus and in Daghestan are all for the struggle with terrorism. We defended our republic when it was necessary from the invasion of the militants. As a result, we do not understand when special units come to us, cordon off districts and entire cities, and insult people, and after the operations things of value have disappeared."
"Such a policy is capable of setting the people against the programs of the President. In Nalchik, this led to the rising of 100 people, but with us it is already possible that there are no fewer than 10,000 to 20,000 indignant young men who have arms."
This situation is made even worse, Umakhanov argued, by the behavior of the current leadership of Daghestan. "In 1999, the leader of [Daghestan itself] publicly called for the people to arm themselves by selling their property and livestock. And now, he wants to take away these arms."
And the mayor concluded with obvious regret, "with each passing day, the situation [in Khasavyurt, that successfully repelled Chechen militants six years ago and in Daghestan as a whole and in its capital Makhachkala in particular where violence has become increasingly common] is becoming worse and worse."
In other comments, Umakhanov complained that his city of 120,000 people currently received inadequate funding from Moscow and Makhachkala, less than 20 percent of what other cities in the republic are getting per capita. But he said he had been able to make up some of the shortfall by turning to local businessmen.
The mayor said that his city, which is located not far from the border with Chechnya, has many refugees from that republic, adding that ethnic Chechens currently form 30 to 40 percent of those involved in the city's markets.
And he indicated that he supported the request of those residents of the northern Caucasus who were seeking to leave Russia and resettle in a Western country where their rights would be respected. "If America takes [this group] in," Mayor Umakhanov said, "at the very least, there these people will not be called 'blacks'."
(Paul Goble teaches at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia.)