The New Eurasia: A Guide to the Republics of the Former Soviet Union

By David T. Twining | Go to book overview

5
The Caucasus

The Caucasus, a territory slightly larger than the three Baltic republics, is divided into the Northern Caucasus and Transcaucasus regions. In the 1989 national census -- the Soviet Union's last such count -- more than 21.3 million people comprising 100 nationalities lived in the Caucasus.

As a result of more than 250 years of deliberate Russian conquest, the Northern Caucasus today is within the political jurisdiction of the Russian Federation. It consists of five autonomous republics -- Chechen-Ingush, Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkar, Kalmuk, and North Ossetian -- and two autonomous oblasts -- Adyghei and Karachay-Cherkess. Most of these autonomous areas are in various states of turmoil associated with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. For details of their ongoing political transformation, see the chapter on the Russian Federation.

The Northern Caucasus is less than 1 percent of the area of the former Soviet Union, and it is less densely populated than the Transcaucasus. Many of its inhabitants are Muslim, notably the Chechens, Ingush, Balkar, and Dagestan peoples. Significantly, there is much overlap of populations, with more than one-fourth living outside their titular homelands. One of the major demographic shifts that have occurred since the 1989 Soviet census includes a decline of Russians or those designating themselves as Russian. This trend is even more significant in the Transcaucasus.1

The Transcaucasus comprises some 5.5 percent of the population of the former Soviet Union. This region has seen some dramatic changes since the 1989 census, one of them being a massive migration of ethnic populations. Azeris living in Armenia have returned to Azerbaijan; Armenians in Azerbaijan have moved to Armenia; and Slavic peoples have left the region in large numbers.2

This diaspora of peoples has been magnified by protracted and costly ethnic strife, in part the result of the manner in which the region was

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The New Eurasia: A Guide to the Republics of the Former Soviet Union
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Maps xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xv
  • Introduction xvii
  • Key Terms xix
  • Notes xx
  • 1 - The Former Soviet Union 1
  • Notes 30
  • 2 - The Russian Federation 35
  • Notes 55
  • 3 - The Baltic States 63
  • Notes 79
  • 4 - Western Region 83
  • Notes 109
  • 5 - The Caucasus 115
  • Notes 136
  • 6 - Central Asia 139
  • Notes 173
  • 7 - The Debris of the Former Soviet Union 179
  • Notes 190
  • 8 - Selected Biographies 195
  • Notes 199
  • For Further Reading 201
  • Index 205
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