ISSN 2330-717X

Muslim Leader Seeks Return Of Territory From Buddhist Kalmykia To Predominantly Orthodox Christian Astrakhan – OpEd


Just how intertwined any change in administrative-territorial divisions of the Russian Federation is highlighted by a case in the North Caucasus where a Muslim leader in Astrakhan seeks the return of territory from Buddhist Kalmykia, an appeal that has sparked charges of extremism in Kalmykia and anger generally.


Muslim Yunusov, the imam of the White Mosque in Astrakhan, says that the settlement of Tsagan Aman now in Kalmykia must be returned to Astrakhan. In addition, he has called for the return of the entire Nogai district in Muslim Daghestan. These demands have gone viral on the regional internet scene (

Kalmyk officials have already brought charges against Yunusov, and they have referred the case to their Daghestani colleagues who are expected to do the same thing. Kalmyk borders have been in dispute since the restoration of the republic after its remaining population was allowed to return from deportation.

Some areas that were earlier part of Kalmykia were left in Astrakhan Oblast or in Daghestan while others that were parts of those federal subjects were transferred to Kalmykia. Anytime anyone questions the existing borders, there is controversy; and the Internet inevitably exacerbates the situation.

Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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