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More on Kalmyk-Chechen conflicts

On Friday I wrote briefly about a brewing conflict between Chechens and Kalmyks in the Buddhist Russian Republic of Kalmykia, promising to update when I got back from my weekend away. 

Well, judging by the lack of news reports, the situation seems to be more or less under control, with tensions – for the moment at least – being kept down to a simmer.  Largely, I think, this is down to the government’s decision to send 1,100 troops into the region in a show of force designed to intimidate people into going home instead of picking fights with each other and to physically keep people apart, if necessary. 

In Yandyki, troops backed up by armored vehicles patrolled the streets. They barred nonresidents from entering the village.

Kalmyk police stepped up security on the region’s border with Astrakhan on Friday, acting Kalmyk Interior Minister Vadim Korneyev told Interfax.

It’s nice to be able to report on a Russian military success, for once. 

I did learn a few things about Kalmykia from the comments though – not only is the region Buddhist, but it contains Europe’s only desert, says Venichka.  I even learned from Otto that the US government had to class the region as European at the end of WW2 in order to allow in Kalmyk refugees. 

J Otto Pohl, by the way, has just posted an excellent Really Short History of the Kalmyks on his blog, and plans to post more on the Kalmyk diaspora, much of which is based in the US, soon. [Update 24/6: See The Kalmyk Diaspora in the US and the intruigingly titled How the Kalmyks Became White]

Finally, while searching for more information about the region, I found this other piece of unhappy news – Kalmykia is now officially one of the Russian regions affected by Avian Flu, an epidemic which seems to be spreading steadily Westwards across Russia.


  • Stories on the subject of “Conflict between Kalmyks and Chechens in Astrakhan Oblast” are linked from here

    The Head of Astrakhan FSB, for what its worth says that the conflict is of a social, not religious or ethnic, character.

    The Kremlin’s Man, sorry, the President of Chechnya, Alu Alukhanov, is quoted as saying something similar. He’s also, unsurprisingly, critical of press coverage of the events.

    The Governor of AStrakhan Oblast, meanwhile, is quoted on the reputation for interethnic tolerance in the region (which in part of whole, I think, in the 1930s, formed part of the then Kazakh SSR). And, compared with other ethnically Russian regions not that far away (Krasnodar, Stavropol), this is pretty much the case.

    I hope all of the above is true, given what a mess much of Southern Russia has become of late. Seems like a show of strength by the Astrakhan authorities seems to have calmed things down for now, anyway.

  • I think the dispute has to be seen in an ethnic context to some degree – what may have started out as a dispute between just a couple of people has expanded to divide the two ethnic groups in that particular area.

    But I don’t think that we need to worry overly about this conflict spreading too much, or becoming a large scale conflict. It (hopefully) appears to have been nipped in the bud, and it’s geographical distance from Chechnya (not massive, but far enough, I think), means that the scope for Chechen militants to agitate in the region is limited.

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