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Islamic Resistance and Political Hegemony in Dagestan
Unformatted Document Text:  While Moscow’s policies in Chechnya have attracted international attention, Russian hegemony in the neighboring republic of Dagestan has also raised complex issues, though these have received less attention. Located strategically at Russia’s southernmost tip, and accounting for 70 percent of its Caspian Sea coast, Dagestan is Russia’s most heterogeneous republic. Its two million-plus citizens are divided among more than 34 ethno-linguistic groups. Some of these groups, such as Avars, Azeris, Chechens, Lezgins, and Nogais, are themselves divided by contentious frontiers and Dagestan’s predominantly Muslim population has seen violence between Islamic traditionalists and Islamist fundamentalists locally described as “Wahhabis.” Islamism Arrives in Dagestan Into the void created by the decline of the collapse of Soviet society in the 1990s, and along side of the revival of traditional North Caucasian Islamic organizations, Islam provided the basis for an expansionist political ideology. Political Islam became an active force in the Soviet Union during perestroika when the Islamic Party of Revival (IPR) organized in Tajikistan and immediately attracted attention with its publication of an influential manifesto entitled “Are We Muslims?” A Dagestani Avar named Akhmed- Kadji Ahktayev, who was residing in Tajikistan, became the IPR Chair. Akhtayev, who was a trained physician and a self-taught theologian moved to Dagestan, where he 2

Authors: Ware, Robert.
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While Moscow’s policies in Chechnya have attracted international attention, Russian
hegemony in the neighboring republic of Dagestan has also raised complex issues,
though these have received less attention. Located strategically at Russia’s southernmost
tip, and accounting for 70 percent of its Caspian Sea coast, Dagestan is Russia’s most
heterogeneous republic. Its two million-plus citizens are divided among more than 34
ethno-linguistic groups. Some of these groups, such as Avars, Azeris, Chechens,
Lezgins, and Nogais, are themselves divided by contentious frontiers and Dagestan’s
predominantly Muslim population has seen violence between Islamic traditionalists and
Islamist fundamentalists locally described as “Wahhabis.”
Islamism Arrives in Dagestan
Into the void created by the decline of the collapse of Soviet society in the 1990s, and
along side of the revival of traditional North Caucasian Islamic organizations, Islam
provided the basis for an expansionist political ideology. Political Islam became an
active force in the Soviet Union during perestroika when the Islamic Party of Revival
(IPR) organized in Tajikistan and immediately attracted attention with its publication of
an influential manifesto entitled “Are We Muslims?” A Dagestani Avar named Akhmed-
Kadji Ahktayev, who was residing in Tajikistan, became the IPR Chair. Akhtayev, who
was a trained physician and a self-taught theologian moved to Dagestan, where he
2


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