Memorandum submitted by Mr Robert Chenciner
My recent book Daghestan Tradition and Survival
is in the House Library. I attended the first part of the evidence
session on 23 March. In addition, may I submit the following background,
analysis and suggestions.
The Soviet empire fell apart because it had
failed economically and the resulting great dislocation has often
meant that provincial industry has stopped dead. GDP figures for
these regions have only recently been calculated and look optimistic
because unemployment is high (50 per cent to 90 per cent) and
average monthly wages of $US 10 to $US 30 are pre-extortion-cum-tax.
Real GDPs judging from "quality of life" criteria are
probably nearer $US 500that is below the IMF hunger level.
Birth rates are high, causing population increases from 20 per
cent to 25 per cent per decade and the economic gap between the
elite ruling clans and the peasants is huge.
The Russians, as the previous colonial power,
have the expertise to employ divide-and-rule techniques to re-establish
their influence. The Russians have actively intervened in every
recent "ethnic" conflict in the region, often secretly
supporting both sides. Further Russian ambitions to recreate the
Soviet empire are the real threat to regional stability. Russian
motives are to control the regional natural resources and to replace
Chinese, Turkish, Fundamental Islamic or Persian influences. The
Russian game will in due course additionally affect Afghanistan,
India and Pakistan.
Unless you are an oil multinational, it is highly
risky to make major financial commitments during what is likely
to be a prolonged period of reconstruction, lasting a minimum
of 50 years, even without civil wars, endemic corruption and crime.
The 1997 Russian legal ruling against Star Mining Corporation
NL on ownership of the Lenzoloto gold-field also highlighted the
lack of commercial law or remedy.
Alternatively, Britain can pre-empt Russian
neo-colonial aims by playing a more active Great-Game role as
(1) By giving export credit guarantees
to British contractors for infrastructure projects.
(2) Less expensively, by intelligent proactive
entry into information and legislation strategy, as in the following
(i) By intervening in the Caspian Sea boundaries
(ii) By using the "good governance"
conditions of international aid to legally challenge Russian human
rights violations towards non-Russians.
(iii) By publishing a regular illustrated magazine,
superior to and broader than the enclosed Turkish government's
TICA Review [not printed], which is useful as far as it