Akka-Chechens — Chechens from Aukh — do not wish for other ethnic groups to be relocated as part of efforts to restore the historically Chechen Aukh Distict. Many have expressed doubt that the district will ever be restored, despite a pledge by Daghestan’s government to do so.
‘No one is demanding that it be a mono-national area. We just want to restore justice, to return the historical name to the district — Aukh. Nobody is against Avars and Laks living here’, Magomed Magomedov, one of the elders of the village of Leninaul, told OC Media.
Daghestan’s government plans to resettle 2,700 non-Chechens from Novolaksy District and restore Aukh by 2025. Novolaksky was formed from parts of Aukh District in 1944, after the deportation of Chechens to Central Asia. It was at first populated by Laks from Daghestan’s Lak District before other groups also settled there as well.
Israpil Shovkhalov, editor-in-chief of Chechen magazine Dosh, told OC Media that Akka-Chechens have no intention of driving out other residents from district.
‘These people are only trying to achieve the restoration of the district, but I have not heard from them that they wanted the resettlement of Avars, Laks, and other nationalities who live on the territories of the former Aukh District. They are blameless. And it is not even a question of dividing the land, it’s about the legal rehabilitation of the district’, he said.
Shovkhalov noted that it’s unlikely other ethnic groups would be oppressed in a restored Aukh District, pointing out that Circassians, Kumyks, and Avars had lived in Chechnya for years and had not been oppressed.
On 25 June, a mass brawl broke out in Leninaul injuring 12 people including three policemen; nine others were detained by police. The conflict, between Chechens and Avars living in the village, quickly took on an inter-ethnic tone. The incident brought long-discussed proposals to restore Aukh District back on the political agenda.
Many Akka-Chechens are angry that a decision to abolish the district in 1944 was taken by the central authorities, and the decision to restore it has now shifted to Daghestan’s local government.
‘A decision was already made back in 1991 [by the Russian Parliament] to restore Aukh District. But 26 years have passed, and nothing has been done so far. Now they again decided to restore the district by 2025. But I don’t believe this will happen. I think this is another trick by the authorities to make money. The Daghestani authorities are not interested in this, that's why the whole process is dragging out,’ Magomedov said.
The resettlement is projected to cost ₽12.4 billion ($214 million) over eight years, 80% of which will come from federal funds.
On 21 October, the Vainakh Com YouTube channel, published an appeal ‘from the Akka-Chechen people’ to Russian president Vladimir Putin. In it, several dozen men stand against the background of a mosque in Leninaul, while one reads the appeal. At the end of the video, all the men raise their hands in favour of the appeal.
‘For centuries, Chechens living on the land of Aukh have wanted to bring back the most valuable thing — their homeland,’ says the appeal.