Question: Mr.Chaguchiyev, you are the head of the international public and political movement Union of the Caucasian Nations, one of the goals of which is to set up the civil society in the Caucasian states. How does your organization treat the issue of relations between the power and the opposition in the Caucasian republics? This is one of the indexes of the democracy levels. The power needs the opposition - the officials of all ranks admit that. As a matter of fact, we have not a constructive dialogue, but the squeezing out of all kinds of dissent. This is actual for the majority of the Russian regions, and also for the majority of the countries of the world too. What is happening in the Caucasus in this respect?
Answer: Our organization is trying to conduct a constructive dialogue both with the regional authorities and with the opposition. Our objective is to help the power and the opposition to listen to each other. Unfortunately, the situation in the Caucasus is very hard now. You may take any of the Caucasian republics – any president is doing everything to suppress the opposition. These people, even if their viewpoints are radical, represent the interests of a certain part of the population. Speaking about the constitutional opposition to the authorities, I may tell you this: the poverty, at which the majority of the people of the Caucasus have to live now, at the horrible criminal atmosphere, at the constantly growing number of the social, economic, political and other problems – there are people standing behind the constructive opposition. Unfortunately, there is no opportunity to talk about the fair elections: even if a representative of the opposition has the 100% support of the electors, it will be very difficult for this person to come to power. When the ratings of the opposition leaders become evidently higher, than the ratings of the administration, then these people are usually outlawed. For example, Igor Georgadze, who was a very well known politician in the republic of Georgia, he was the minister of the state security (1993-1995), - the power announced him “the national enemy” without any reason. He was a man of great authority not only in Georgia, but in Russia too. A criminal case was forged against him, allegedly about an attempt at President Shevardnadze’s life. During the litigation, which took place in 1997, all the accused people officially said, they were brutally tortured - to give false testimonies. One of the arrested people, who refused to testify against Georgadze, was killed in jail. His other nine close companions disappeared under mysterious circumstances.
Question: And where is he now?
Answer: Now he is the leader of the Georgian opposition and the Georgian authorities are hunting for him all over the world. However, the people of Georgia will elect Igor Georgadze to be their president - no matter, if incumbent President Shevardnadze wants it or not.
Question: The Caucasus has always been associated with the republic of Georgia for the Russian people. The links between Russia and Georgia are rather considerable, and the fact that former Foreign Minister of the USSR, Eduard Shevardnadze, is conducting the anti-Russian politics – this is rather painful for us.
Answer: I will give you the following answer to this. I have a very good attitude to “the grandfather of the Caucasus,” the President of Azerbaijan, Geydar Aliyev. He has done a lot for the people of Azerbaijan and he has always been a wise politician, a patriot. However, I simply can not understand his recent aspiration to hand over the power to his son – Ilkhan. It is a very relevant issue for a politician - to give up the power in a worthy manner. So, these plans are merely absurd, especially because of the fact that Ilkhan Aliyev does not know a thing about the political life of the republic, he does not have any experience in the field either. Ilkhan has no authority in the republic and will never be able to win at the presidential elections. Geydar Aliyev is at risk to destroy every good thing he has done in his life for the consolidation of the people of Azerbaijan. The people of this republic lead very hard lives and they are not going to support Aliyev’s son – this is obvious. If there were the presidential elections in Azerbaijan now, then 80% of the people would elect former chairman of the republic parliament, Rasul Kuliyev. Rasul Kuliyev is also forced to live in another country, he can not return to the motherland.
Question: Where is Rasul Kuliyev now?
Answer: He is in New York. Nevertheless, he is a working leader of the Azeri politics, the leader of the opposition in the republic.
Question: What is going on in Armenia? There was the information in the press, which said the opposition was demanding there should be repeated elections held.
Answer: The people of Armenia have certain claims to Robert Kocheryan. The people are living badly, and Kocheryan’s ambitions are also one of those reasons. A healthy opposition is now growing in Armenia. If Kocheryan fails to set up the relations between the people and the opposition, then he will lose the power. Besides, he has to find a common language with Azerbaijan. He definitely misses that decisiveness that Shevardnadze has – the decisiveness that a politician needs in order to make his political goals come true.
Question: You have given a brief outline of what is happening in the Caucasian republics of the former USSR. Anyway, the Caucasus is also Russia. What’s going on here?
Answer: Dagestan is the central link of the Russian Caucasus. The situation in Dagestan was even more difficult, than in Chechnya – both before the Chechen war and after it. I come from Dagestan and can judge on the events, happening in the republic not only as a politician, but as a patriot of Dagestan. Unfortunately, my criticism regarding the functioning power in the republic resulted in the fact that they tried to kill me several times and I can not go there now, in spite of the fact I can visit other countries of the world. The level of unemployment is the highest there on the entire territory of Russia, they have the lowest level of collection of taxes, the most serious criminal situation. Compare this: there were only three murders in the city of Nalchik (Kabardino-Balkaria republic) over the latest 20 years, but in Dagestan there were 300 and not murders, but assassinations and only a couple of them have been resolved. I can now say the things I have said in public before: there are bandits in the government of Dagestan. The chairman of the republic’s government, Khizry Shikhsaidov is one of the criminal authorities. There are drug addicts, assassins, kidnappers around this person. At the same time he enjoys a very big support from the chairman of Dagestan’s Council of State, Magomedov.
Question: So it happens there is no one, either in Dagestan, or in Russia to counteract to the power, which has established such a criminal situation, like you say?
Answer: Boris Yeltsin used to support Magomedov. For the time being there are no political or public forces in Dagestan, which would help to resist him. I was one of those, who helped Magomedov to come to power, but when I saw what he started doing, I harshly criticized him. And what did I get? Five attempts to kill me in Dagestan and two in Moscow. My son was killed in Dagestan. Me and my other son, Raul spent a very long time as captives in Chechnya.
Question: Why did you become dangerous to the administration of Dagestan? Are you going to take part in the elections of the president of the republic?
Answer: No, I am not. First of all, the elections in Dagestan are not fair and of the nation-wide character. Secondly, I do not have the ambitions for power. I am doing a large scientific, public work. Being the leader of the Union of the People of Caucasus, I can bring good to my Dagestan too. It was about me being outspoken.
Question: Is this situation in the whole Caucasus, is it really so?
Answer: I think, maybe, Osetia is the only exception. I know Osetia’s President Alexander Dzasokhov – he is a bright politician, and I can say his attitude to the opposition is healthy. I have seen that the opposition was sometimes very cruel to him, but he had always been democratic to conduct a dialogue with them on behalf of the state.
Question: What can you say about Ingushetia?
Answer: The Caucasus is experiencing hard times because of Russia's actions in Chechnya. Ruslan Aushev, who is actually a young man, managed to prevent Ingushetia from becoming another battle field, and it was far from being an easy thing to do. It is a great achievement of his. Aushev is working correctly. This is basically Magomedov's merit – that Chechnya has been standing against the central Russia for so long, because the weapons, food stuffs, drugs, money are delivered via Dagestan's territory. At the same time I can not give you any transgression on Aushev’s part, although Ingushetia borders on Chechnya.
Question: Chechnya is a separate subject to talk about. Nevertheless, there is also power and opposition there.
Answer: We helped Aslan Maskhadov to come to power, but he turned out to be a man without temper. We addressed to President Yeltsin with a suggestion to make Salambek Khajiyev the president of the republic. If he were the head of Chechnya, there would be no war there. I know that Akhmad Kadyrov is different from many leaders of the Caucasian republics. He does not have a proper education, but he knows the Chechen people. He does not have an experience, but he is not dealing with money saving. And this is the main thing.
Question: Is there the opposition in Chechnya? Or do the so-called “field commanders” make up the opposition there?
Answer: All Chechen intellectuals are in the opposition to Kadyrov and to Moscow. I have to tell you this: there is not going to be confidence in power in Chechnya, when the Chechen land is breathing with the ashes of the killed people. The people will not trust either the regional or the Moscow power.
Question: The Union of the People of the Caucasus is the organization, which is working on the territory of all Caucasian republics, Russia and the CIS. Who does you organization consist of?
Answer: This organization consists of the correct politicians, who have the authority, who stand for their people, who try to raise the living standard of their people. I can name you some of them: one of the leading politicians of the Caucasus Ramaz Abashidze, the chairman of the committee of the Georgian parliament, Mamuk Aroshidze, a well-known actor Vakhtang Kikabidze, former premier of Azerbaijan, Ragym Guseynov, the president of the Azeri academy of sciences, Vagyf Silayev and other. There are 83 doctors of sciences, 16 academicians and 36 professors in the organization too.
Question: Do you think your organization is a lobbyist one?
Answer: Absolutely. We have met with all the political parties in the regions, we are constantly conducting negotiations with the leaders of the republics – both on our behalf and as the agents in the regulation of the critical situations. We are a lobbyist organization. We lobby the interests of the Caucasus, not only in Russia or in CIS, but also internationally.
Question: Do you have a program, your point of view for the development of the Caucasus?
Answer: We do, in political, economic and ideological terms.
Question: Can you name the basic postulates of the program?
Answer: Peace and consent, first and foremost. Secondly - the problems of the Caucasus must be solved by the people of the Caucasus. Thirdly - we know the way how to finish the Chechen war and we are ready to act, but unfortunately, the Kremlin is not listening to us.
Question: What is your opinion about Russia’s politics towards the Caucasus?
Answer: I do not have any. Russia does not have any politics towards the Caucasus. This is appropriate, since there is no representative of the Caucasus among the high-ranking officials of Russia.
Question: What about Ruslan Khasbulatov? Ramazan Abdulatipov?
Answer: The only two of them, yes. Yeltsin incidentally let Khasbulatov to power. Now Khasbulatov is a professor of Plekhanov’s academy, but his experience and knowledge of the situation in the Caucasus are not in demand for the Russian authorities, although he has said that many time, he could regulate the conflict within a couple of times. However, both Khasbulatov and Abdulatipov have taken the shape of politicians in Russia, not in the Caucasus. Of course, they have their connections with their countries of origin, but I’d rather say they are the Moscow politicians. Abdulatipov is now a representative of the Saratov region in the Federation Council. I do hope the situation will change for the better. The people confide in Putin. I know that the election results in March of the year 2000 have not been falsified for the first time. Putin gained the majority of votes even in Dagestan. Yeltsin got 5-7% of votes in Dagestan at the previous elections, but then it turned out, there was 50%. But the percentage, which Putin received, was totally real. So let’s hope for the best. I hope Putin will keep the trust of the people of the Caucasus.
Magomed Chaguchiyev was interviewed by Inna Semyonova PRAVDA.Ru
Magomed Chaguchiyev is the chairman of the National Council of the International public and political movement Union of the People of Caucasus, Doctor of Economic Sciences, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Dagestan’s dissident.
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov
Read the original in Russian: http://www.pravda.ru/main/2001/12/13/34803.html