Daghestani minister questioned over unspent money for Afghan-war veterans

13 September 2018
The protest of veterans in August (Saida Vagabova /OC Media)

Daghestan’s minister of labour and social affairs has come under fire for failing to spend money meant to provide housing for veterans of the war in Afghanistan. At a meeting on Tuesday, Daghestan’s acting Prime Minister, Artyom Zdunov, questioned where the funds had gone. Veterans protested in August over the lack of promised housing.

According to the federal law on veterans, veterans of military operations in Afghanistan have the right to free housing from the state or cash to go towards purchasing a home.

Magomed Khadulayev, Chairman of the Board of the Daghestani branch of the Russian Union of Afghan Veterans, said acting Minister of Labour and Social Development Rasul Ibragimov could not answer why the money had not been properly spent.

Khadulayev told OC Media that of the ₽54 million ($780,000) allocated from the 2017 budget for this, Ibragimov claimed ₽40 million ($580,000) remained unspent.

Ibragimov reportedly explained that the ministry redistributed ₽14 million ($200,000) of the funds to veterans of the Great Patriotic War (1941–1945), as the promised sum of ₽28 million ($400,000) from the federal budget for this failed to materialise.

Vagab Kazibekov, a representative of the Public Chamber of Daghestan and a member of a working group established after the meeting to address the issue, said the money was anyway not nearly enough.

Kazibekov told OC Media that ₽54 million would only be enough to provide housing for 30 Afghan veterans, and that around 800 people were currently on the waiting list. According to him, ₽1 billion ($15 million) was needed to solve the issue. An idea to raise funds from donors was raised at the meeting, he added.

Dzhalal Dzhalalov, chairman of the council of Afghan veterans of Buynaksk, a town just west of Makhachkala, told OC Media that after 20 years of waiting, the veterans were losing patience. According to him, if the authorities failed to act soon, they would begin a hunger strike.

‘At the expense of lives’

In 2013, a building was built for veterans of Afghanistan near Makhachkala’s Lake Vuzovskoye, and in 2014, 60 flats from the building were given to veterans.

According to Khadulayev, these flats came ‘at the expense of their colleagues’ lives’, with money only being allocated after two veterans died while on hunger strike in 2008.

According to Khadulayev, a third veteran killed himself when the strike came to an end. He said that in the following years, several rallies were held in Makhachkala’s Afghan Park, after which then–head of Daghestan Magomedsalam Magomedov allocated ₽77 million ($1.1 million) from the republic’s budget, ‘and with this money the building was built in 2013’.

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