RFE/RL Russian Federation Report, No. 33: Ethnic situation in Volgograd Oblast


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Subject: RFE/RL Russian Federation Report, No. 33: Ethnic situation in Volgograd Oblast

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RFE/RL Russian Federation Report, No. 33: Ethnic situation in
Volgograd Oblast


RADIO FREE EUROPE/RADIO LIBERTY, PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
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RFE/RL Russian Federation Report
Vol. 2, No. 33, 13 September 2000
 
A Survey of Developments in the Regions Outside Moscow
Prepared by the Staff of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
 
******************Note to Readers*****************
A weekly supplement to "RFE/RL Newsline," the "RFE/RL
Russian Federation Report" features news about the
Russian Federation outside Moscow and the North
Caucasus. Those interested in Russia's regions might
also want to look at Russian-language transcripts of
RFE/RL's weekly "Korrespondentskii Chas" at
http://www.svoboda.org/programs/.
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VOLGOGRAD
 
COSSACK ATAMAN APPEALS TO PUTIN FOR DIRECT RULE... The Ataman of the
Don Cossacks in the Tsaritsynsk okrug in Volgograd Oblast, Vladimir
Melikhov, has appealed to President Vladimir Putin to introduce direct
presidential rule in his region, "Izvestiya" reported on 6 September.
Melikhov told reporters the previous day that Putin's intervention is
needed in order to protect the ethnic Russian and Cossack population
from terrorist acts committed by immigrants from the Caucasus.
Melikhov also complained about "genocide," citing the view of
"specialists" that ethnic Russians will be a minority in the oblast
within 15-20 years because of the growing numbers of Asian and
Caucasian peoples. The leader of the Don Cossacks Volgograd okrug,
Aleksandr Biryukov, said that many Cossack leaders in our other okrugs
were surprised by Melikhov's appeal, noting that he had not advised
them of his plans. Valerii Napalkov, chief federal inspector of the
Southern District for Volgograd and Astrakhan Oblasts and the Kalmykia
Republic, told the daily with gubernatorial elections approaching,
certain local politicians have started gathering votes and Melikov has
"entered into these games." Napalkov called Melikhov's actions
"intolerable and alarming" since the region currently needs a
"delicate" and "competent" approach to interethnic relations. JAC
 
.AS NEWSPAPER CLAIMS CHANGING ETHNIC BALANCE IMPERILS REGION.
According to "Nezavisimaya gazeta-regiony" on 5 September, during the
last 10 years the ethnic balance in the region has shifted
dramatically, causing tension. It also predicts that in 30 years,
Russians will be an ethnic minority in the oblast. According to the
semi-monthly, the number of non-Russians has increased more than three
times during the last 10 years and today totals some 350,000 people.
Among this group, the "largest and strongest" ethnic communities are
the Chechens and Azerbaijanis. The Chechens number no fewer than
70,000 and, according to some specialists, constitute the largest
"diaspora" in all Russia. The publication claims that the Chechens
control the oblast's "entire oil business" as well as a significant
part of the retail trade, meat processing, and other revenue-producing
businesses. The Azerbaijani diaspora numbers some 75,000-80,000, the
Armenian community 30,000-35,000, and the Kazakh community
40,000-50,000. The newspaper notes that "with each year the number of
light-haired students in the first year of grade schools becomes
fewer," while oblast "authorities prefer not to comment" on the
"obvious nationality problem." When "reminded of its existence, they
employ the formula that since time immemorial the territory has been
multi-ethnic and will somehow survive." JAC

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***********************************************
Copyright (c) 2000. RFE/RL, Inc. All rights reserved.
 
"RFE/RL Russian Federation Report" is prepared by Julie
A. Corwin (JAC) on the basis of a variety of sources,
including reporting by "RFE/RL Newsline" and RFE/RL's
broadcast services. Regular contributors are Jan Cleave
(JC), Liz Fuller (LF), and Paul Goble (PG). It is
distributed every Wednesday.
 
Direct comments to Julie A. Corwin at corwinj@rferl.org.
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