Sunday, October 31, 2010

Window on Eurasia: Balkar Anger at Nalchik and Moscow Intensifies

Paul Goble

Staunton, October 31 – Representatives of seven Balkar villages are in the fourth month of a hunger strike at the base of the Kremlin wall in Moscow to call attention to the violation of the traditional land-use rights of their community by officials in the bi-national Kabardino-Balkar Republic in the North Caucasus.
Participants in this action have repeatedly said that they were driven to this “extreme measure” because no one in Nalchik or Moscow had paid attention to larger protest meetings in their republic, the result, they say, of corrupt relations between the Kabardinian-dominated government in Nalchik and officials in the Russian center (
The Balkar protest in Moscow has attracted some attention but only about their demands for the restoration of land transferred to the Kabardinians. But now as a result of the publication on Friday of a resolution adopted two weeks ago by “citizens of Russia and residents of Kabardino-Balkaria,” their broader complaints may get more coverage (
The resolution, adopted at a meeting convened by two Kabardinian-dominated organizations, reflected anger about what its signatories said was “the legal nihilism in society and the organs of power” and the “unceasing bacchanalia of criminality” at a time of economic collapse and rising unemployment since Arsen Kanokov became republic president in 2005.
“Despite the systemic and continuing lie that under Kanokov Kabardino-Balkaria is flourishing that has been distributed by the local clan elite in the Moscow corridors of power and related media,” the resolution said, “statistics, facts and reality say that the situation on the ground is exactly the reverse.”
According to official statistics, Kabardino-Balkaria ranks among the worse in employment, corruption and other negative indices. And it has been the scene of an explosive growth in the number of extremist crimes and terrorist actions, according to Deputy Prosecutor General Ivan Sydoruk.
“All this is taking place because the KBR procuracy avoids struggling with genuine extremism, preferring instead to identify ‘extremists’ among law-abiding members of the opposition, while the force structure illegally persecute believing young people,” the resolution continues.
Even more disturbing, there is evidence that the terrorists have links with the officials, the resolution says. Otherwise, how can one explain that the terrorists never attack those who are directly part of the ruling clan and its supporters in Moscow but only those within the KBR who do not have links with Kanokov and also that officials don’t pursue terrorists in many cases?
`. Moreover, many in the force structures simply kill innocent opponents of the current ethnocracy, the resolution says, thus leading to a situation in which the mothers of KBR residents beg the powers that be “not to shoot their children but to bring them to court.”
Given this behavior on the part of the officials, the resolution suggest, it should surprise no one that “dozens of young people are fleeing into the forests and the mountains in order to save their lives from the illegal actions of the siloviki.”
More generally, it says, “if Parliament and President of the KBR publish unconstitutional laws and do not fulfill the decisions of the Constitutional court of Russia, if the KBR procurator does not challenge then and itself commits criminal actions without fulfilling the decisions of the court, then what are citizens to do?”
This situation is giving rise to “a general legal nihilism among the population” because “in the KBR, all complaints by citizens to whomever they are addressed fall into the hands of those against whom the complains are lodged, and among the population,” ever more people assume that this simply works to support the existing powers that be.
As a result, “dissatisfaction in the population with the ruling elite both local, district and federal is intensifying.”
Underlying all of this, the resolution says, is “the propaganda of ‘Circassian supremacy’ [the Kabardinians are a subgroup of the Circassians] and dislike to Slavs and Turks.” And because of the threat this poses to stability in the North Caucasus and Russia’s territorial integrity, the resolution makes the following seven “proposals:”
First, it calls on President Dmitry Medvedev to examine what Kanokov has been doing and at the very least warn him that he risks “the loss of faith” at the center. Second, it asks Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to examine Kanokov’s use and misuse of federal funds. Third, it calls on the Russian procurator general to bring charges against the KBR procurator for his crimes.
Fourth, it asks the Russian Constitutional court to insist that KBR courts fulfill Russian laws and court decisions. Fifth, it requests that Presidential Plenipotentiary Aleksandr Khloponin consult with all groups in the KBR and not just those tied to Kanokov. Sixth, it calls on the powers that be in Moscow to provide support to the Balkar protesters in Moscow.
And seventh, the resolution calls for the reversal of the violations of federal law that have occurred concerning the rights of Balkar communities in mountainous areas to use pasture land, the proximate cause of this anger among the Turkic Balkars but far from the most serious aspects of their fury at the present time.

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