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  • Writer's pictureDmytro Levus

Division of Russia: January 12-25, 2023

1. Regarding the activity of the Civil Council (Grazhdansky sovet)

In the conditions of the Russian-Ukrainian war, which is not going as planned for Russia in the Kremlin, it is natural that various Russian initiatives of an oppositional orientation activate, which, among other things, emphasize their direct participation in the war against the Russian Federation. One such initiative is "Grazhdansky sovet".

Denis Sokolov, one of the leaders of the "Grazhdansky sovet"

Among others, the initiative emphasizes the active involvement of representatives of Russian national and regional movements. To a large extent, the nature of the Civil Council is determined by the fact that the leading person in the organization is Denis Sokolov (officially the coordinator of the center for public resistance). He is widely known as an expert on the problems of the North Caucasus, with an anti-Kremlin orientation, who has a wide range of contacts with representatives of national movements. Although the organization launched in November 2022 in Warsaw, it is now becoming more active. In particular, a Telegram channel was created on January 19. The organization plans to recruit volunteers from the Russian Federation for service in the Armed Forces, including in the "Russian Volunteer Corps" formation and the Crimea battalion. It is about the creation of a volunteer training center and the fact that the first volunteers are already in Kyiv. The organization emphasized that representatives of Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, Chechnya, Tatarstan, Yakutia, Krasnoyarsk Krai, Primorsky Krai, and Irkutsk Oblast have joined the Civil Council. Among the participants, it is worth highlighting Ibrahim Yaganov, a figure of the Circassian national movement and a hero of the war in Abkhazia against Georgia. In 2021, he declared the need for Abkhazia to be part of Georgia. Currently, he has been declared a foreign agent in Russia.

Ibragim Yaganov (on the left)

Earlier, Yaganov called on the Caucasian people not to participate in the so-called special operation on the side of the Russian Federation. “We, Caucasians, definitely do not need this war. Russia's war with Ukraine is not our war. We have been in the shoes of Ukrainians throughout the history of coexistence with Russia and must understand them.” Yaganov recently stated, “We entered the Civil Council to bring independence and law to Circassia.”

The Manifesto of the Organization clearly states, “The Civil Council stands for decolonization and reassembly of the political space of the Russian Federation based on the right of peoples to self-determination, and of society to self-government. The right to self-determination extends, among other things, to numerous groups of residents of most regions who define themselves as Russians and whose political subjectivity is suppressed by the federal center. The manifesto is quite a radical document and speaks of "post-Russia". In particular, it stipulates, "Civil Council is an independent institution of transitional post-conflict justice, formed by professional Russian lawyers under separate regulations, working within the framework of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation and the current Constitution of the Russian Federation based on the values of human rights formulated in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of the European Convention on Human Rights person, even before its full ratification by the republican and regional representative authorities legally elected and recognized by the international community. The powers of the Tribunal include consideration of all submitted investigative materials on suspects in the crimes listed above." In addition, the GS differs from other opposition structures precisely in its focus on the armed struggle: "Any national or regional organization ready and able to create an armed unit within the Armed Forces, organize resistance in the republic or region, recognize the decisions of the Civil Tribunal and adopting the principles of the European Convention on Human Rights. Stop the war in Ukraine, withdraw the regular troops of the Russian Defense Ministry and the Russian Guard, military units of the unrecognized LPR and DPR, units of unofficial armed formations called private military companies, including Wagner, Redut, and others outside Ukraine in 1991. All withdrawn armed units will be disarmed and disbanded, information about persons involved in war crimes will be handed over to the Civil Tribunal, and if there are legal grounds to take suspects and accused into custody."



The scandal with the cover of the Tatarstan magazine became a landmark event that successfully characterized the situation in international relations in Tatarstan and Russia and the moral climate in Russia. Tatarstan is a monthly magazine, the official journal of the Republic of Tatarstan. It's the oldest publication, which is published in two languages (Tatar and Russian). In particular, the scandal was caused by the cover, which consisted of two parts, made in dark and light color schemes. Moreover, the image of the conventionally Russian part, with the Orthodox church, a local historical monument, was in dark colors and was accompanied by inscriptions that allowed it to be interpreted as a "bad past". Instead, the "Tatar part" with the mosque was depicted in bright colors and read as a wonderful present and future. It should be noted that the scandal went beyond Tatarstan.

The scandalous cover of the Tatarstan magazine.

Orthodox Russian radicals also spoke negatively about the situation, such as, for example, the infamous Sorok Sorokov movement, with which the Ukrainian boxer Usyk used to associate. The well-known propaganda site Eurasia Daily, which is connected to the Russian special services, called it a provocation of Muslim and Tatar radicals, saying, "You don't need to be an expert to understand that the editorial staff of the magazine or, at least, the cover artist Alfrid Shaimardanov demonstrated that everything Orthodox is dark and gloomy, while the bright and joyful future lies with Islam. The message is simple."

On the other hand, some of the Tatars began to say that this could be a well-thought-out provocation against the Tatars so that the federal center would have a reason to continue attacking the rights of the republic. Additionally, the editor-in-chief of the publication is an Orthodox Russian, Tatyana Vafina, who is not a native of Tatarstan (from Samara), which was considered, depending on the perception of the situation, as evidence of limiting the subjectivity of the Republic of Tatarstan, or a lack of understanding by officials of the necessary local conditions and subtleties of international relations.

The so-called 'special military operation'.

For the leadership of various 'subjects of the federation", the so-called special operation remains an opportunity to demonstrate their "patriotism and loyalty to Moscow". At the same time, they try to gain popularity in the region. There is also traditional competition between regions, especially Tatarstan and Bashkortostan. As mentioned earlier, in Bashkortostan, local propaganda created the image of a keen scout Fanis (Husainov), a mercenary who fought in one of the "volunteer" units and became the hero of local television and comics. Husainov was killed by Ukrainian troops. Currently, a Tatarstan soldier from the "volunteer" battalion "Timer" Ayrat (Muhammadiyev) is being promoted in Tatarstan. He became famous for dancing with the flag of Tatarstan on the BMP, and the video became quite popular in the aggressor country.

Airat Muhammadiev dances atop the BMP.

As Harun Sidorov testified, "There is one more unpleasant suspicion that even now, the old competition between Bashkortostan and Tatarstan pathologically manifests itself. Therefore, if Bashkortostan created its hero, Fanis, it is necessary to create one in Tatarstan (Airat). The worst thing is that at least some of those who do this are not just dutifully working out an informational agenda but also sincerely showing their national patriotism in this way. The only result of such "patriotism" is the further extinction of nations and the death of young men who could be useful to them."



In Makhachkala, Russian security forces broke up two individual demonstrations in support of the arrested journalist Abdulamin Hajiyev and historian Khadzhi Murad Donogy (we have already written about Donogo's case). Abdulmumin Hajiyev is a journalist for the independent Dagestan newspaper "Chernetka" ("Chernovyk" in Russian), which often publishes critical articles, in particular about local security forces. The man has been in the SIZO since 2019. His colleagues and relatives, as well as "Memorial. Support of politicians" believe that the criminal case was fabricated to put pressure on independent mass media. Khadzhi Murad Donogo is a former deputy director of the National Museum of Dagestan and a doctor of historical sciences. In December 2022, he share information about the search of his house. According to the historian, law enforcement officers were interested in his participation in scientific conferences in Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Turkey, and also asked questions about his contacts there, Caucasian Node wrote.

A picket in Dagestan in support of the historian Donogo, who is trying to tell the truth about the Caucasian War

Donogo suggested that the persecution may be related to his scientific activities and that the search was based on an "order from above". The real reason for the dismissal, as well as the search and persecution of the professor, is that his interpretation of the history of the Caucasus and the Caucasian War does not coincide with the Russian official position.

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