By Valery Dzutsev
The newly re-established Agency for Nationalities Affairs (see EDM, April 6) should combat Russian isolationism, according to a leading expert on the Caucasus of the Russian Institute for Strategic Research (RISI), Yana Amelina. RISI had previously claimed responsibility for spearheading Russian policies in Ukraine (see EDM, January 20). Amelina writes that though Russian media coverage has been dominated by the Ukrainian conflict, once that topic loses steam, the favorite slogan of Russian nationalists—“Stop Feeding the Caucasus!”—will return to prominence.
However, Amelina points out that North Caucasians do not want to secede from Russia. This, she claims, is supported by evidence that Chechens and Ossetians were among the most ardent supporters of Russian separatists in Eastern Ukraine. North Ossetian historian Ruslan Bzarov explains this point to Amelina in an interview: “Without Crimea and the Caucasus, the Russian Empire–USSR–Russian Federation cannot exist in its current borders and retain the geopolitical meaning that is familiar to us. This is a historical fact that has no alternative.” North Ossetian mufti Hajimurat Gatsalov goes even further. In an interview with Amelina, he states that Russia “must bring under control the entire Caucasus,” especially the Black Sea and the Caspian Sea coasts. This suggests potential incursions into Georgia and Azerbaijan. According to Amelina, such attitudes are widespread across the North Caucasus (, April 9).