The peak of mass unrest in the Soviet Union fell on the second half of the 1950-x - the first half of the 1960-x. When Brezhnev came to power, the workers' unrest (namely, the workers were the backbone of the protesters) began to decline. In the 1969 — 1976, the KGB of the USSR did not register at all a single case of mass riots. The main role was played not so much by force as by the material improvement in the life of the Soviet people. Terror against the government and the anti-Soviet struggle remained the lot of a handful of intellectuals who put forward political claims to the leadership of the USSR.
In the Brezhnev era, even the Caucasus was reassured, in which, as it seemed, a peaceful life was never possible. The last mass unrest there was recorded in 1964, when the Chechens who had been deported under Stalin returned home from Central Asia staged the Laks (the people of Dagestan) pogrom in one of the villages. In 1976, the last abrek was killed in the North Caucasus - a Khasukh Magomadov Chechen, who began the fight against Soviet power during the Nazi occupation.
How Moscow bought the loyalty of the Caucasus
Although it was not advertised, the Kremlin at the time made concessions to the Caucasian elites. Law enforcement agencies preferred to turn a blind eye to the then private business (the so-called tsekhovikov). The loyalty of elites was simply bought: the Soviet authorities pumped huge amounts of money into the Caucasus. For example, at the beginning of 1980-s Georgia was 60% subsidized from the federal budget. 15 was pumped per capita in Georgian social services times more than in the RSFSR. As a result, the standard of living in the republic was three times higher than the union level. The share of the working class in Georgia was the smallest of all the subjects of the Union - total 2%. But in 1982, out of 10, thousands of Georgians were 862 members of the CPSU. According to this indicator, they were significantly ahead of Russians (774) and Belarusians (702), leaving far behind Turkmen and Tajiks (320 and 286, respectively).
The central government secretly folded and the Russification of this region. In most of the republics of the Caucasus (including those that were part of the RSFSR) there was a gradual "peaceful" exclusion of non-titular nations from the borders of these republics. In Georgia in one decade (1979 — 1989), the number of Russians decreased by 10%, in Azerbaijan - by 11%, in Chechen-Ingushetia and Dagestan, Russians decreased by 13% during this time, and in North Ossetia their number decreased by 5% .
Nationalism was a trump card in the hands of the Caucasian elites. Deftly manipulating this problem, they kept Moscow on a hook, thereby knocking out various preferences from it. However, there were questions that Moscow was not ready to sacrifice. Among them - the "Circassian problem."
What turned the "Circassian problem"
In the XIX century, hundreds of thousands of Circassians (according to various estimates, from 100 to 400 thousand people) after the conquest of the North Caucasus, Russia emigrated - mainly to the Middle East. At the end of the 1970th century, this phenomenon was hard experienced by the North Caucasian peoples (Kabardins, Circassians, Circassians). Since the early XNUMXs, the Circassian intelligentsia has been increasingly insistently asking Moscow when its tribesmen will be allowed to return to historical homeland. Moreover, a precedent already existed at that time: from the late 1950s, the process of repatriation was ongoing in Armenia, up to 1970 thousand Armenians returned from emigration to this republic by the end of the 60s.
Moscow was slow, trying to lower the "Circassian question" on the brakes. The Kremlin rightly feared that repatriates would bring Islamism to the North Caucasus from Jordan, Syria and Lebanon (the countries where Circassians mostly settled). However, without repatriate Circassians, the spread of militant Islam in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia from the beginning of the 1970-x went at a rapid pace.
This "boil" inevitably had to explode. And it exploded in 1979, when Osmanov’s gang showed Moscow what the silenced and impeding problems turn for the North Caucasus.
The robbed were shared with the mullahs and nationalists.
This gang (or OPG, as they say now) appeared in the autumn of 1975. Its backbone consisted of Gegirov (leader), Bitsuev, Gedogushev, Shogenov, Kyarov. The group hunted classic banditry, and outwardly it was no different from similar bands in any part of the USSR. Except for one thing: from 20 to 30, the output of the OCG was directed to the financing of local Islamist societies and “Circassian circles” (in the KGB documents which appeared as “nationalist underground”). All members of the gang were devout people and built their lives according to the letter of the Koran.
From the autumn of 1975 to April 1976, the gang committed about a dozen high-profile crimes in the Stavropol Territory, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria. She staged a raid on the Leskenskoe consumer society, having received about three thousand rubles as production (the guard was killed at that), at the Vesna cafe in Nalchik and a department store in the North Ossetian town of Digore.
Part of the proceeds (about 9000 rubles) group members have transferred underground Muslim clergy for the printing of the Koran and other religious books.
The first stage of their “struggle” ended an unexpected incident. Gangsters raided the tsehovik's house in Kyzburun village. The shadow businessman and his brothers put up armed resistance. During the attack, the shopkeeper's wife was injured, and he and his clan vowed to punish the raiders according to the law of blood feud.
At that time, the forces of a small gang were still small, and the workshop, on the contrary, had great influence. The leader Gegirov decided to bury the composition of the organized criminal group ... in prison. The thugs deliberately committed several thefts (they stole horses and motorcycles) and voluntarily surrendered to the police. They received a short time - from a year to three.
Aslan Gegirov. Photo: MIA archive
In the summer of 1979, after serving his time, the bandits reunited again. A recidivist and a dissident Habala Osmanov joined the group. In such a combination of his views was not unusual for the North Caucasus: he robbed and stole, justifying their actions struggle against Soviet power. Another justifying argument for him was piety.
Osmanov quickly gained authority in the gang, and Gegirov himself suggested that he replace himself as commander of the organized criminal group. Osmanov first thing offered to get the present weapon - instead of a revolver and a shotgun of hunting rifles that were in the arsenal of the organized criminal group. Another of his decisions was to give the gang a political and religious tint in order to win the respect of the local population. In particular, it decided to give the Islamists 25% of production, and even 25% - Circassian nationalist underground.
Ottomans developed a plan of attack on the armory of the detention center in Nalchik. The writer Fyodor Razzakov in his book "Bandits 1970-x" describes the course of the operation:
“An old friend of Gegirov worked in the post of senior controller at the Nalchik SIZO. This friend also volunteered to make for his friend copies of the keys to the front door of the arsenal. In the meantime, the gangsters decided to warm up a little. Near Nalchik at night, they attacked a car and killed its owners, a husband and wife from Armenia. The same thing happened a few days later with the owners of the Zhiguli stopped on the same road. However, when the rumor of the night on the road has become a killing vengeance to walk among the people and the police to increase their vigilance, the Ottomans decided to change the "profile". Now began raids on collective farm funds. "
During this period of their activity, gangsters robbed about 70 thousand rubles, as agreed by Osmanov, and gave half to underground mullahs and local nationalists.
Killed in the name of independent Circassia
Finally, the keys to the weapons room of the Nalchik SIZO were ready. But Osmanov suspected that the jailer who had manufactured them, a friend of Gegirov, could “pawn” the gang to the policemen. Therefore, he sent only two people to the case - Gegirov and Gubachikov himself. Both of them, with the help of the senior inspector of the SIZO Gazhev, penetrated into the territory of the detention facility, tied up the sentry, and then the alarm went up - Gazhev actually surrendered to the police bandits. Gegirov and Gubachikov managed to escape by capturing a watchmaker.
Osmanov realized that a frontal raid on the police was too dangerous. And he decided to just buy a weapon. A month later, two Makarov pistols, two Kalashnikov assault rifles and a Soudaev submachine gun appeared in the gang. It was decided to test this entire arsenal on the Rostov-Baku night road. One night, noticing the Zhiguli on the side of the road, the gangsters shot a young man, an old man and an old woman who were in them.
The Ottomans again decided to take a break, during which the gang was mainly engaged in looting. The popularity of organized crime groups grew, new members joined it. At the peak of the gang's numbers, it was a 36 man. The criminals regularly expelled the “anti-Soviet tax” to the mullahs and nationalists in the form of half the booty. The bandits also developed political activities: leaflets appeared in Nalchik and other cities of Kabardino-Balkaria calling for the population to raise an uprising against the Soviets. “Independent Circassia is our demand!” - stated in one of the leaflets.
Habala Osmanov. Photo: MIA archive
After some time, Osmanov decided to go "on the present case" and to raid the restaurant Sofia, located on the territory of North Ossetia, between the village of Elkhotovo and the Zmeyskaya railway station.
Razzakov describes this operation as follows:
“Three armed thugs attacked the restaurant in broad daylight when they celebrated someone's birthday there. After killing the doorman, the gangsters burst into the banquet hall and, throwing up their rifles, began to cool them in cold water with lead on innocent people. The wounded were finished off with single shots to the head. Hurrying to clear the cashier, they failed to destroy everyone: two seriously wounded survived. ”
"And I will not leave the dead alone the communists and the Russians"
It was the last crime of the gang of Osmanov. On her mark came out by chance. Osmanov's wife passed him to the police (the motives for her act remained unknown, but she kept herself free by denunciation). Three policemen came to the house of the leader of the gang, he met them with heavy fire from a machine gun. Ottomans could hide. In search of him raised the entire local police and soldiers of the nearest military unit. And again a woman appears in the case: Habala was hiding in the house of a devout woman, a “spiritual sister,” as he called her, and she also turned him in to the law enforcement officers (no longer the police, but the KGB, who took over the operation to capture the gang). To the place where the thug was hiding, armored personnel carriers arrived. Habala Osmanov surrendered without resistance. Over the next few days, the rest of the gang members were also arrested.
The investigation into the case of Osmanov's gang lasted just over a year. When it was completed, the authorities faced a serious problem: not a single Russian city wanted to hold court sessions because of fear of the defendants' colleagues. Only 17 people were involved in the case, and the KGB assumed that at least one to two dozen gangsters were still at large. In addition, the authorities feared that the Circassians might arrange mass actions in front of the court building.
In the end, the choice fell on the city of Vladimir. Here they found a building whose walls could withstand any assault. During court hearings, it was surrounded by armored personnel carriers and 100 — 150 soldiers of internal troops. Even before 300, soldiers, policemen and KGB officers were on duty within a radius of several kilometers from the building where the trial took place.
In 1981, the court sentenced Habalu Osmanov, Aslan Gegirov, Ruslan Gubachikov and Safrail Kyarov to an exceptional measure of punishment - the death penalty. The rest of the gangsters received from 10 to 15 years of imprisonment. At court hearings, the Ottomans shouted that they would not leave the communists and Russians alone as well.
The Soviet media did not report the shooting in North Ossetia and the trial of bandits. The scant information about the case was transmitted only by Turkish newspapers and radio. But the whole Caucasus knew about this crime. People were scared away by the terrible fame of the Sophia restaurant, so that it was closed and then completely demolished. Soon, 3 July 1981, in 15 hours 15 minutes, collapsed and the famous Tarartup minaret, located in front of the restaurant. Locals still believe that Habula the Ottomans and in the next world does not want to leave them alone.
Concessions to the Caucasus did not save the position of the authorities
The Soviet authorities learned a lesson from this story. Since the beginning of the 1980, some Circassians who were not members of Islamic groups were allowed to return from abroad to their historical homeland. Official delegations from Syria and Jordan began to arrive in Nalchik and Maykop; they were received at a high level by regional officials. Kabardino-Balkaria was the only of the three Circassian subjects in the USSR, in the universities of which students from Syria and Jordan were educated. For example, in 1986 over two hundred students from these two countries studied at two universities in Nalchik.
However, these relaxation and flirting of the Soviet government not only with the Circassians, but also with the Caucasus in general, could not stop the process of chaos and the war of all against everyone historically inherent in this region.
The collapse of the USSR began with interethnic conflicts in the Caucasus (and not at all from rallies in Moscow, as many metropolitan residents believe). The slaughter in Tbilisi between the Soviet army and the Georgian crowd in 1989, the massacre of Armenians throughout Azerbaijan, Chechen separatism - all this showed the weakness of the central government with which the national elites (not only the Caucasus, but also the Baltic states, Ukraine, etc.) could be more not be considered.
The leader of the Chechen separatists, Dzhokhar Dudayev, called Kabardino-Balkaria "a sleeping beauty", not hiding hopes of "waking up" her. Dudayev was convinced that it was the Circassians who were the main hope of all North Caucasian peoples, since behind them was already ready “historical justice” and it was easy for them to justify the local national democracy.
In October, 2005, the Islamic militants managed to do what did not work out for the bandits of Khabuly Osmanov - to actually capture Nalchik. Then the security forces managed to recapture the city, killing about a hundred militants. But neither the Circassian nor the Islamist question in the North Caucasus, this victory is still not decided.