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The chairman of the Chechen Parliament, Magomed Daudov, has visited Daghestan to open official border talks between the two Russian republics. This was the first official visit by the Chechen authorities since the appearance of a map on the Chechen parliament’s website in November caused consternation in Daghestan, as it showed a part of Daghestan’s territory as being a part of Chechnya.
On Monday, Daudov met with the head of Daghestan, Vladimir Vasilyev, the speaker of the Daghestani parliament, Khizri Shikhsaidov, and Daghestani MPs.
A spokesperson for the Daghestani parliament, the People’s Assembly, told OC Media that the topic of the meeting was fixing the border between the two republics and how to organise entering the data into the state cadastre.
According to the spokesperson, a joint working group made up of specialists from the Russian Federal Service for State Registration, Cadastre, and Cartography and heads of the municipalities located near the border was created to work on the project.
The working group will be jointly headed by Shikhsaidov and Daudov.
The spokesperson said that similar commissions would be created with neighbouring Kalmykia and Stavropol Krai.
On 20 January, Vasilyev told Daghestani television channel NNT that the ‘formation of administrative boundaries between the subjects of the Russian Federation is planned and compulsory work, which comes from the decisions of the president and resolutions of the Russian government’.
According to Vasilyev, the Russian government has set deadlines in 2019 for the agreement of administrative boundaries between its federal subjects, which will then be considered by the Russian Parliament.
‘The task of neighbours is not to set up [border] posts, but to solve problems in the interests of the people’, Vasilyev added.
‘No one is going to divide the land’
Vasilyev previously met with the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, on 6 December at a media forum in Grozny. The two reportedly discussed the border issue, but the results of the meeting were not made public.
In Chechnya, a commission to clarify the borders of the republic was established by Kadyrov on 7 September. Following this, an updated map of the republic appeared on the website of the Chechen parliament in which a part of the territory of Daghestan was shown as being within the borders of Chechnya.
Chechen authorities later removed the map from the site saying it was an error, while Daghestani authorities did not officially respond to the incident.
A spokesperson from the Parliament of Daghestan told OC Media that there were no differences of opinion on the border between the two parties during Monday’s meeting.
At the meeting, Daudov stated that there had always been friendly relations and a mutual understanding between the two republics and that there was no disagreement on the issue of borders.
According to him, work will be carried out to confirm historical borders based on cartographic and archival materials.
Chechnya’s Minister of National Policy, External Relations, and Press and Information, Dzhambulat Umarov, also said in an interview with the Govorit Moskva (Moscow Says) radio station that Chechnya had no territorial disagreements with Daghestan. He noted that the questions may arise only in the field of land surveying.
According to Umarov, if in the past the borders were designated incorrectly and ‘in some confusion, we dissociated some hectares in their favour’, then during the upcoming work ‘some order will be established’.
‘In this case, there is no talk of some kind of dispute’, Umarov said.
Caucasian Knot, quoted Vasilyev as saying that, if necessary, public hearings, popular gatherings, and referendums on this issue would be held.
‘The border between Daghestan and Chechnya has long been established’
The talks come several months after a land deal was signed between the leaders of Chechnya and its western neighbour, Ingushetia.
Details of the controversial deal, signed on 26 September by Ingush head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and his Chechen counterpart, Ramzan Kadyrov, were initially kept secret from the public. It later emerged Ingushetia will transfer 340 square kilometres, about 9% of its territory, to Chechnya.
The deal led to weeks of street protests and widespread calls for Yevkurov’s resignation.
Several MPs in the Ingush parliament claimed the vote in parliament approving the deal was falsified while the Ingush Constitutional Court declared it unconstitutional.
[Read on OC Media: Protests erupt in Ingushetia as MPs say Chechnya land swap vote was falsified]
Aslanbek Adiyev, a researcher at the Centre for Ethnopolitical Studies at the Daghestani Branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told OC Media that people in Daghestan were concerned about the commission’s upcoming work because the work of the same commission preceded the border deal with Ingushetia.
However, Adiyev said that the border between Daghestan and Chechnya, unlike the Chechen–Ingush border, had long been established. He added that all that was left to do was to specify the exact coordinates the border followed.
‘It is possible that according to the results of this work, some hectares of land that were perceived as part of Chechnya, or as part of Daghestan, will turn out to be on the other side of the administrative border between the subjects, but nothing more’, he says.
According to him, Vasilyev ‘demonstrates a fairly open public policy’ and ‘there is no reason to believe that the republic’s leadership will make any kind of behind the scenes decisions on this issue’.
Adiyev said that controversy around restoring the traditionally ethnic-Chechen populated Aukh District in Daghestan was not related to the work of the commission.
‘This is a separate topic, very complex, strongly politicised, but it’s unequivocally an internal Daghestani question’.
[Read on OC Media: Controversy over Chechen Aukh District resettlements continues in Daghestan]
Daghestani Lawyer Rasul Kadiyev told OC Media that from a legal point of view, there is no reason to make any statements regarding the map that appeared on the website of the Chechen parliament since the Cadastral Chamber of Russia reports that maps posted on this site are not official documents.
According to Russian news agency TASS, the authorities of all the federal subjects of Russia should establish administrative boundaries of all regions and settlements by 2021.