Nationalists demand Moscow ‘stop feeding the Caucasus’

(RIA Novosti / Mikhail Fomichev)
Extreme nationalists have launched an all-Russia campaign against what they say is “excessive” financial support for the North Caucasian region. To promote the idea, they chose the populist slogan “Stop feeding the Caucasus!”

­The campaign has been organized by the Russian Public Movement and the Russian Civil Union, who have joined under the common banner of “Russian Platform”.

Experts believe that through this, nationalists want to promote the idea of separating the region from Russia. They point out that their rhetoric cites outdated figures which fail to take account of significant cuts in funding for the North Caucasus which are due in 2012.  

Annual federal government aid is calculated based on per capita rates, which will be reduced from the current 17,700 roubles (556 US dollars) to 11,900 roubles (374 US dollars). However for the northern republic of Yakutia, the figure is considerably higher, amounting to 50,000 roubles per person (1571 US dollars), granted in response to severe climate conditions.

According to the Kommersant daily, Russian Platform activists intend to organize rallies in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod and many other cities.

It is not the first time the nationalists have made use of the slogan, “Stop feeding the Caucasus!” In April this year they held a rally in central Moscow, claiming their protest was “not against the Caucasus but against the Kremlin” and its budget policies.

It should be noted that some nationalists believe that cutting funding to the Caucasus poses far more risks  than continuing support.

“If we don’t feed them, millions of Chechens will come to Moscow, Stavropol and other cities,” the leader of the banned Slavic Union, Dmitry Dyomushkin, told Kommersant. 

In August, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin sharply criticized those who suggest separating the region from Russia.

“Those who say so deserve to have a piece of themselves cut off,” Putin said during an interview with media outlets from the Chechen Republic. “They do not understand what they are talking about. As soon as any country starts to reject some problematic territories, this means the beginning of the end for the whole country,” he stressed.