Saturday, October 2, 2010

Window on Eurasia: International Turkic Peoples’ Congress Calls on Moscow to Restore Rights of Nogays

Paul Goble

Staunton, October 2 – Turkey’s efforts to promote an alliance of Turkic-language countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia have attracted a great deal of attention from other states around the world, but a parallel drive to promote unity among Turkic peoples, many of whom are minorities in other countries, has not even though it may prove equally important.
That is because each of these minorities has its own grievances and aspirations, many of which enjoy support from other Turkic peoples and governments but most of which are supported by too few people within the countries in which these nationalities find themselves to make a difference.
And consequently, the construction of such alliances for the Turkic peoples appears likely to play a role similar to the one Finno-Ugric groups have which add the strength of three independent countries – Estonia, Finland, and Hungary – to the numerically small Finno-Ugric groups within the Russian Federation.
A month ago, the International Organization of Turkish Youth and the Gagauz Social Organization Umut held the first International Congress of Turkic Peoples in Komrat, the Gagauz capital within Moldova. That five-day session has now been described in detail by a Daghestani journal (
Among the groups represented, Ayshat Batyrmurzayeva reports, were Daghestani Nogays, Siberian Tatars, Chuvash, Crimean Tatars, Azerbaijanis, Kyrgyz, Turks, Serkels, Iranian Azerbaijanis, Bulgarian Turks, Iraqi Turkmens, Mafuns (Karelians, Finns and Maris, and the host Gagauz.
The meeting was opened by Semsettin Kuzeji, the deputy president of the International Organization of Turkic Youth, Nikolay Dudoglo of the Komrat mayor’s office, and A.Kh. Kharlamenko, the chairman of the Popular Assembly of Gagauzia, who said he was especially pleased that the meeting was gaining so many new friends for his people.
Dudoglo for his part stressed “the importance of this forum for [all] the peoples of the Turkic language world” and noted that Komrat “for seven years has been a member of the Union of Municipalities of the Turkic World,” another body that seeks to link Turkic groups across the world.
But in one of the meetings most important actions – and the reason that the session was reported in such detail by a Makhachkala journal – the session adopted an appeal to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Prime Minister Vladimir Putin about the problems of the Nogays of Daghestan.
Noting that Nogays have “more than once raised the questions of building a civil society in Daghestan” but that “the policy conducted by certain highly placed officials in the power structures of the republic” has not taken the necessary steps to ensure it for “indigenous numerically small Nogay people,” the international meeting is calling on Moscow to intervene.
In order to overcome “the difficult social-economic situation of the Nogay people and the infringements of its constitutional rights in the Russian Federation,” the appeal continues, the central Russian government should take the following six steps, all of which would represent a challenge to the way business is done in Daghestan.
First, Moscow needs to evaluate and then move to quash the September 1996 Daghestan law which “infringes on the right of the Nogay people to use the territories” traditionally belonging to its members but that have now been taken over by other larger ethnic communities in that republic.
Second, the document says that “for the preservation of the native language, cultural customs and traditions, and the preservation and development of the unique culture of the Kum Nogays, it would be useful to consider and accelerate the re-establishment of the Nogay district in Stavropol kray centered on Kayasul which existed until 1944.”
Third, it calls for a revision of Makhachkala-imposed division of fighting rights on the Caspian so that the Nogay living on the shores of that sea can make a living. Fourth, it calls for “the construction of a hard-surface road” connecting Nogay auls and the extension of gas lines to heat the houses in these villages.
Fifth, it urges Moscow to investigate the ecological situation in all Nogay regions and to clean up contaminated areas. And sixth, it urges Moscow to “create a commission to consider the further correction of the illegal and criminal points concerning the Nogay people” in the January 1957 RSFSR decree allowing deported peoples to return.
None of these demands is new: the Nogays have been making them for more than 20 years. But what is new is that they and presumably other Turkic peoples in the region now have an international body they can use to gain greater attention and that Turkey has gained yet another means of projecting Ankara’s interests into the Caucasus and beyond.

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