There are practically no Russians left in the power elites of the North Caucasus regions.
Alpha and Omega of the Russian national policy today is considered to be the creation and strengthening of a unified Russian nation. In this case, as a rule, the question remains on what basis this process should be carried out. However, the answer as a whole is obvious and can be found, for example, in Vladimir Putin’s election article “Russia: the national question,” where the president called the Russian people a uniquely fascinating Russian civilization. Indeed, in Russia the basis for building a single nation can only be Russian culture, the Russian language and the Russian people proper as their bearer. For example, what is common between Nivkh and Avar except for Russianness?
At the same time, very different politicians and public figures, from communists to Western liberals, are increasingly talking about the threat of the disappearance of the Russian people. If for Russia as a whole, such forecasts look more like a gloomy apocalyptic fiction, then the absence of Russians in Chechnya and Ingushetia, as well as the permanent reduction of the Russian population in other North Caucasian republics, is an objective reality. And this reality calls into question not only the creation of the Russian nation, at least in the North Caucasus, but also the very presence of the North Caucasus within the Russian Federation.
The outflow of Russians from the North Caucasus began in the days of the Soviet Union. Population censuses recorded a decline in the share of the Russian population in the region since the 1970s. In 1990, the process took on an avalanche-like character. Today, the rate of decline in the Russian population has noticeably decreased, but in general, the trend has not changed: the Russians continue to leave. On the departure of Russians, another trend is superimposed: in Caucasian families, the birth rate is much higher (see table 1).
Change in the share of Russians in the population of the republics of the North Caucasus (%)
We often hear that the main reason for Russians leaving the North Caucasus is the elimination of industry in the region. To a certain extent, this is true. But sociologists in the Soviet era noted that the most common reason for the Russians leaving was the lack of personal security. Today it is all the more true. And in this case we are not talking about terrorism, but about the significant criminalization of Caucasian society.
In general, the Russian authorities are well aware of the problems that the de-Russification of the North Caucasus creates. In the Social and Economic Development Strategy of the North Caucasus Federal District before 2025, the outflow of the Russian-speaking population is called one of the main problems of the region, and its termination and the return of the Russian population is a strategic task of the state.
In recent years, certain attempts have been made to reverse the situation: the programs of resettlement of Russians to Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan were implemented. However, judging by the dynamics of the Russian population, programs in all the republics failed. And the republican leaders themselves evaluated their effectiveness extremely low. Let us quote the words of the head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, in 2010: “There was no effect. The effect was only that partly on this someone earned. Mostly officials. Even now I’m looking, I can’t find those returning from this program, I give instructions to the head of administration: find at least one family to talk with, which would return under this program. Now it is impossible to find such a family, you will not find. ”
On the whole, it seems that the programs for the return of Russians to the North Caucasus were somehow not implemented seriously. Federal TV channels did not invite to move to Chechnya, there were no billboards on the streets of Russian cities inviting to Ingushetia, there were no articles in the popular press campaigning to live and work in Dagestan. These programs went quietly, and the overwhelming majority of Russians never learned about them.
Moreover, the “suitcase mood” among Russians in the North Caucasus today dominates. According to the study “The National Question in the Russian Social and Political Life” *, presented in September of this year in the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, almost all (79%) Russian youth living in the republics of the North Caucasus are ready to leave their small homeland and move to another Russian region. That is, it can be said with confidence that the outflow of Russians from the North Caucasus will continue.
In recent years, another extremely alarming trend has emerged: under pressure from immigrants from the North Caucasian republics, Russians are already leaving the Stavropol Territory. The Russian authorities also know about this, for example, this is stated in the "Strategy for the Social and Economic Development of the North Caucasus Federal District before the 2025 of the Year." However, the steps taken, as well as attempts to return Russians to the North Caucasus, do not give an effect.
As an illustration, we will cite the story of one of the leaders of the Stavropol Territory: “Russians don’t even go to the Stavropol Territory. In our city of Stavropol, a military camp was built, beautiful, with infrastructure, with a kindergarten, with a school. It stands empty, the military did not go to it. This military town was just built so that the military drove here. We expected an increase in the male population, an increase in the Russian-speaking population and, again, in the military. That is, it was done to strengthen the region with such a population. But people did not go. The town is empty. This we are talking about Stavropol. If they do not come here, then who will go to the republics? ”It is very characteristic that this manager asked not to be named.
Some nations are more equal
Russian youth are also pushing the departure from the North Caucasus by the fact that Russians in the region are in an unequal situation in comparison with the titular population. For example, the share of Russians in the administrative republican elites is two to three times lower than in the population of the republics. The only exception to this rule is Ingushetia, where the share of Russians among managers is already 14 times higher than in the republic’s population. However, this fact can hardly be regarded as an example of a tolerant attitude towards the Russian population. Over the past thirty years, virtually the entire Russian-speaking population has left the republic, and Ingushetia has actually become a mono-ethnic republic (see table 2).
Share of Russians in the population and managerial elite in the republics of the North Caucasus (%)
If we talk about top management positions (head of the republic, chairman of the republican government, mayor of the republican capital), then there are no Russians and Russian speakers in these positions in the North Caucasus at all. All senior posts in the region are occupied only by representatives of the titular ethnic groups (see table 3).
Number of Russians and representatives of titular nations in leadership positions in the republics of the North Caucasus (%)
Such a situation can not affect the interethnic relations. If in any republic practically all leading posts are occupied by representatives of the title ethnos, and the Russian and Russian-speaking population is not allowed into power, then the residents of this republic can be talked about as much as one Russian nation. Anyway, no one will believe.
Neighbor husband husband
Chechnya and Ingushetia are the republics in which there are practically no Russians left, just as the so-called Russian-speaking ones are practically gone: Armenians, Greeks, Jews, Ukrainians, etc. Together with the Russians, Russian culture and the Russian way of life are leaving the republics. But the holy place is never empty, today Islamization is actively going on in the region. To a certain extent, today Chechnya and Ingushetia can be called Islamic republics. For example, according to the “National Question in Russian Social and Political Life” research mentioned above, the majority (62%) of Chechens and Ingush support the introduction of polygamy at least in the territories of these republics. And every fourth (23%) believes that polygamy should be allowed throughout the Russian Federation. According to a number of Chechen and Ingush respondents, polygamy in these republics has already become de facto widespread. Let us cite one of the participants in the study: “Polygamy in Ingushetia is normal. I have a neighbor recently married husband. Yesterday they just brought it. She has no children. And the first wife lives separately in the house, and the second ". According to another respondent, “now in Chechnya, if there is money, they want to marry immediately to the second.”
Meanwhile, polygamy in the Russian Federation is prohibited by law. If any people want to live according to Islamic laws and practice polygamy, then this is certainly their right. It cannot be argued that the Islamic way of life is better or worse than the Russian - for the most part European, Christian. These are just different ways. But in this regard, the question arises: can two territories coexist within the framework of a single state, in one of which the norm is considered what is prohibited by law and considered morally unacceptable?
Imitation of national policy
It cannot be said that the Russian government completely ignores the position of the Russians in the North Caucasus. In various government documents, the “Russian question” is clearly indicated. For example, the federal target program “Strengthening the unity of the Russian nation and the ethno-cultural development of the peoples of Russia (2014 – 2020 years)” adopted in August of this year states that the difficulties the Russian Federation faced in the post-Soviet period “led to a number of negative consequences in the interethnic sphere ”, including“ restriction in some regions of the Russian Federation of non-title rights, including Russian, of the population ”. The wording itself is indicative of this: “in some subjects”. The authors try by all means not to name a specific region, although it is clear that the North Caucasus is hidden behind this euphemism.
The concrete actions planned in the FTP can cause only bewilderment. The North Caucasus is mentioned twice in the document - in the names of the events: the Russian Caucasus International Political Science Forum and the Gathering of Young Journalists and Bloggers of the North Caucasus and Southern Federal Districts. It would even be offensive to suspect the authors of the Federal Targeted Program that, in their opinion, these events could somehow affect the position of the Russian population in the North Caucasus. In other words, national policy makers see and understand the problems associated with “restricting non-title rights, including Russian, of the population” in the North Caucasus, but are not going to do anything to change the situation.
However, the national policy implemented today prefers to ignore all the really acute aspects of interethnic relations, such as ethnic crime. And all the activities of maintaining inter-ethnic peace within the framework of the Federal Target Program are limited to conducting various cultural events: the Roma under the Russian Sky festival, the Russian Civilization photo contest, the congress of ethnographers and anthropologists and other festivals, exhibitions, gatherings of bloggers and political scientists forums.
If we speak not about imitation, but about examples of real regulation of interethnic relations, then first of all, we should recall the national policy in the USSR. The Soviet government tacitly recognized the special position of the titular peoples on the territory of their republics, and the representative of the titular ethnic group was appointed the first person in the republic. However, his deputy was always Russian. Thus, the center, on the one hand, controlled the local government, and on the other, maintained a certain parity between the titular and Russian population of the republics.
Interesting is also the initiative of Alu Alkhanov, who, as early as 2007, when he was president of the Chechen Republic, offered to take into account the number of Russians who returned to their previous places as an indicator of the effectiveness of the work of the republican authorities in the North Caucasus. Perhaps, in addition to encouraging the return of the Russians, republican leaders could be responsible for the outflow of the Russian-speaking population. As a target indicator in assessing the success of national policies in the republics of the North Caucasus, one could also take into account the number of deputies of the republican parliament and ministers of the republican government of non-titular nationalities.
Of course, none of the measures listed above guarantee a solution to the “Russian question” in the North Caucasus. But it is clear that the national policy must take into account the basic interests of different peoples, including the Russian population. Russians in the North Caucasus should be given a wide representation in government, business, law enforcement. Without a doubt, such a redistribution of power and, as a result, property will meet with active resistance from the republican ethnocracies, but there is simply no other way.
If we reduce the national policy to cultural awareness, ignore the real problems of the Russian and Russian-speaking population in the North Caucasus and allow the situation to develop by gravity, then sooner or later we will lose this region. And this will not happen because Russian nationalists or external enemies are calling for secession to want to completely destroy Russia. The North Caucasus will leave because it will become a region that lives according to laws, radically different from all-Russian, and a territory in which there are simply no Russians.
* The study was carried out by the Agency for Social Technologies “Polytech” with the assistance of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Network of Ethnological Monitoring EAWARN. The project used state support funds allocated as a grant by the Institute of Public Design following the results of the VI contest “Problems of development of modern Russian society” conducted in accordance with the decree of the President of the Russian Federation 03 in May 2012 of the year No. 216 – rn.