By J. Morison
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Additional resources for Ethnic and National Issues in Russian and East European History
Orbeliani and others). Colonial powers and their colonies were usually separated by great geographical distances which were an obstacle to continuing direct contact. By contrast, Russia and the Caucasus had a common border, and the intensive process of inter-action and inter-influence never ceased, resulting in a wide variety of sub-strata. 1 Although the Caucasus was not a colony of Russia, colonial methods of administration were often employed. A great deal depended on the personalities involved.
37 An MVD official, Polivanov, journeyed to Saratov to familiarise himself with conditions there, to Dagestan to study mountain-dwellers' administrative practices, and to Tiflis for discussions with the officials of the administration there. His conclusions - a summary of the prevailing ethnographic and historical wisdom about the function of customary law and the patterns of rule in the regions formerly ruled by khans and naibs - were optimistic in their assessment of the extent to which Russian traditions of rural administration had penetrated the life of the mountain people.
Moreover, conflicts may well occur in Lezghinstan (the southern part of Dagestan), which is at present divided by the Russian-Azerbaijani border (44 per cent of the Lezghins live in Dagestan and 37 per cent in Azerbaijan), in the western part of Dagestan with its Akkin, Chechen, Lak and Kumyk population (the legacy of the deportation of Chechens), and the Chechen and Karacheev-Circassian areas bordering on Stavropol Region (land disputes). There are also the internal contradictions in KabardinBalkaria and Karachaev-Circassia, the political and territorial claims of the Cossacks, the problems of the Meskheti Turks, the Shapsugs, the Armenians and Greeks of the Krasnodar Region, the exodus of ethnic Russians from the Caucasus, the large-scale migrations from Transcaucasia to Ciscaucasia and Russia, and so on.