Unrest in Dagestan: A 6-Month Outlook


    Due to the extraordinary nature of Russian combat losses, President Putin announced a partial mobilization. The partial mobilization generates resentment. Hundreds of thousands fled Russia in a mass exodus of military-aged males. Reports are emerging on social media of starving, untrained, underequipped and demotivated Russian conscripts. Against the backdrop of this situation. Russia’s recalcitrant provinces erupted in protests against Moscow’s policies. The backlash was most pronounced in Dagestan. Due to its turbulent history, the Kremlin will have a complex and difficult road to navigate in Dagestan. 

    KJ-1: It is highly likely that public demonstrations in Dagestan will continue in the next six months.

    • Clashes between local military enlistment workers and villagers in Babayurt occurred in September [source].
    • A large protest in Endirey led to the local security forces using live ammunition to disperse the crowd [source]. 
    • Protests led to over 100 individual arrests as well as scores of independent journalists [source]. 
    • 300 Dagestani soldiers refused to be deployed to Ukraine in July. However, local government officials impressed a number of them back into service [source]. 
    • Dagestan is one of the regions of Russia which suffered the highest rate of combat losses [source].
    • Russian conscription plans for the mobilization target minority groups such as Dagestanis. Thus, the required manpower for conscription quotas resulted in heavy-handed tactics [source]. 
    • Ukrainian President Zelensky called on Dagestanis to resist the conscription and surrender to Ukrainian units if possible [source].
    • There was large-scale resentment in Dagestan as resources and financial support were diverted to eastern Ukraine in 2014 [source].  

    KJ-2: It is likely that partial mobilization orders will generate close cooperation between Dagestani and Chechen opposition groups in the next 6 months.

    • A Dagestani opposition group announced the formation of a partisan movement. This announcement included open threats against supporters of the Kremlin and the intention to damage property [source].
    • The Dagestani opposition organized the September protests with the help of a widely circulated Telegram channel in Chechnya [source].
    • Adat People’s Movement (ADP) runs the aforementioned Telegram channel. A Russian court labelled the ADP as an extremist organization[source]. 
    • ADP organized, facilitated and coordinated the protest activity in cooperation with the Telegram channel “Morning Dagestan” [source]. 
    • Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov personally threatened the leader of ADP. Chechen security forces killed at least one high-ranking member of the ADP last August [source], [source].
    • In turn, the head of Dagestan claimed that the protests were sparked by entities foreign to Dagestan [source]. 
    • The 2014 war in the Donbas created a widespread perception of a double standard, where Moscow supports self-determination for the Donbas republics but not for north Caucasian peoples [source].
    • There is a history of spillover violence between Chechnya and Dagestan, illustrated by the spread of Salafism in the younger population as well as the admixture of Chechen and Dagestani militants in foreign extremist organizations abroad [source], [source]. 
    • Dagestani opposition groups harbor resentment against the Kadyrov regime in Chechnya over the seizure of oil-rich areas [source]. 

    KJ-3: It is unlikely that additional Rosgvardia units will be deployed to Dagestan in the next 6 months. 

    • Rosgvardia units cracked down on protesters in Makhachkala during protests on September 25 [source].
    • Dagestani troops seen in Berdyansk, Ukraine in February were themselves Rosgvardia units [source].
    • The Russian Ministry of the Interior uses Rosgvardia to secure the safety of Russian personnel and assets in the occupied territories of Ukraine [source]. 
    • As a result, there is a shortage of Rosgvardia units available for internal security [source].
    • Thus far, a confirmed total of 245 officers from Rosgvardia’s elite Special Rapid Response Unit (SOBR) were killed in Ukraine [source]. 
    • In recent months, the need for Rosgvardia units in Ukraine has increased as Russian combat losses mount [source].
    • A number of Rosgvardia servicemen from Krasnodar refused deployment to Ukraine, illustrating the falling levels of morale in the paramilitary organization [source]. 
    • Russia redeployed Rosgvardia units from Syria and Siberia in October to compensate for the loss of personnel [source].

    Intelligence Cut-Off Date 12 October 2022

    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith
    Alec Smith is a graduate of the MSC International Relations program of the University of Aberdeen and holds an LLB in Global Law from Tilburg University. He works in the private sector in field investigations and security.

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