Peoples of Dagestan

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Peoples of Dagestan

LOCATION: Dagestan in the Caucasus Mountain region between Russia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia
POPULATION: 2,600,000 [total population; see Introduction for each ethnic group]
LANGUAGE: Languages of each ethnic group; Russian
RELIGION: Muslim (majority); Christian; Mountain Jews


The name Dagestan refers only to the territory of Dagestan. The territory of Dagestan is shared by numerous ethnic groups, 14 of which are officially recognized ethnic groups. The mountainous terrain of Dagestan, in the Caucasus range, has isolated many of its ethnic groups from outside influences.

The most recent official census in Dagestan was taken in 2002. At that time, the list of officially recognized ethnic groups and their populations was as follows:

Mountain Jews13,000

Many of these groups are quite small in population, yet they have been able to retain their distinct languages and cultures. The Agul, for instance, comprise only 21 villages. The Mountain Jews are a small group that has managed to preserve their distinct religion, although they are surrounded by Muslims.

The large Caucasus region of the former Soviet Union has a long history of conflict and bloodshed among its peoples. In this context of ethnic tension, Dagestan is remarkable for its stability. Although many ethnic groups live within one relatively small republic, the peoples of Dagestan have little history of fighting among themselves. This is especially striking in the late 20th century, when many ethnic groups throughout the world are trying to separate from larger, multiethnic state structures and form their own sovereign states. For the most part, separatist groups in Dagestan have attracted very little support, and most citizens seem content with a multiethnic state governed by a parliamentary system.

The peoples of Dagestan are drawn together by years of common history. During the 19th century, most of the peoples of Dagestan fought against Russia in the Caucasian Wars. Although badly outnumbered, the Caucasian mountaineers managed to engage Russia in a war that lasted nearly 100 years. Russia subdued the mountain people with great difficulty after years of violence. The Caucasian Wars are legendary in Dagestan and are the basis for many folk-tales and stories of heroism and suffering. Shamil, the great leader of the Caucasian mountaineers, was an Avar, one of the peoples of Dagestan. He is still regarded as a national hero by many. One of the political parties in Dagestan, the Shamil Popular Front, is named after this leader. The main street in a capital city Makhachkala is named after Shamil.

When the Tsar fell from power in 1917, the Soviet government took over and began to make changes throughout the newly founded Soviet Union. In the 1920s, the Soviet government discouraged religious expression and ethnic identity and tried to encourage people to embrace communist ideas and join the party. Many of the peoples of Dagestan resented the intrusion of the Soviet regime and joined a large-scale, armed rebellion in the early 1920s. The Avars, known in Dagestan for their aggressive and militaristic values, led the rebellion. Although the rebellion was quelled by the mid 1920s, Dagestan groups continued to show resistance to Soviet power. Thus, Dagestan was the last area in the former Soviet Union to adopt the collectivized, socialized agricultural practices of the 1930s.

The peoples of Dagestan are predominantly Muslim. This religious unity has contributed to the peaceful coexistence of the various ethnic groups in Dagestan. Dagestan is an important center of Islam in the Caucasus and former Soviet Union. Makhachkala, the capital city of Dagestan, is the seat of the Muslim Spiritual Board of the North Caucasus and Dagestan. Since the 19th century, Dagestan has housed many religious schools for training new Muslim clergy. Religion is a strong force among most of the peoples of Dagestan, and multiethnic political movements and parties have attracted considerable support.

The few peoples of Dagestan who are not Muslim include the Mountain Jews, who follow Judaism rather than Islam, and the Cossacks, who are Christians. Cossacks are not identified in official census data but live as a distinct ethnic group in Dagestan. Despite their religious differences, the various groups appear loyal to Dagestan. Another basis for this loyalty is the common history and the large number of common customs shared by the various ethnic groups, such as clothing (both traditional and contemporary), social values, and economic activity.

As Soviet power weakened in the late 1980s, and eventually collapsed in 1991, the peoples of Dagestan became increasingly interested in their own cultural and religious self-expression. Although some independence movements sprung up in the early 1990s, most of these were short-lived as people remained loyal to the multiethnic state. Indeed, after the collapse of Soviet power, the peoples of Dagestan endeavored to create a state in which all native ethnic groups would be treated fairly. Thus, electoral districts were reorganized to ensure that no single ethnic group would be able to dominate. In 1993 citizens of Dagestan held a referendum opposing the creation of a presidency in Dagestan. Instead, the people expressed a strong preference for a parliamentary system to better reflect the special, multiethnic character of Dagestan.


Dagestan is located in the Caucasian mountain range. It is nestled between Russia to the north, Azerbaijan to the south, Georgia to the west, and the Caspian Sea to the east. For the most part, the terrain is very mountainous. The high mountain regions are cold, with alpine meadows, forests, and rocky outcroppings. The spaces between the mountains are more temperate, consisting of wide basins and flat valleys. The coastal land on the Caspian sea is warm, with many resorts and beaches. Historically, the coastal border has given the peoples of Dagestan the opportunity to engage in trade with other countries, particularly Muslim neighbors.

The ethnic groups of Dagestan live in neighboring mountain villages, which are isolated and protected by the mountains. The mountains have also provided important military refuge so that the relatively small population of Dagestan has managed to mount tough resistance to Russian and Soviet encroachment.


Each officially recognized ethnic group in Dagestan has its own distinct language. While some of these languages belong to the same linguistic families (either Turkic or Caucasian), many are not mutually understandable. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, Arabic was a common language spoken by educated peoples of Dagestan and was used to relay messages between various ethnic groups. In addition, Avar, the language of the largest and most powerful Dagestani ethnic group, was spoken by many other people.

Most of the peoples of Dagestan did not have an official written language until the 1920s, when the central Soviet government sponsored the creation of written national languages. Some of the smaller groups, however, still do not have their own written languages. The Agul language, for example, is closely related to the language of the Lezgins, a much larger group. Thus, Aguls used the Lezgin written language. Similarly, the Rutuls and the Tsakhurs used the written language of Azeri. In the late 1990s Agul, Rutul, and Tsakhur were elevated to literary status.

In the 1920s, when the Soviet government consolidated power throughout the territories of the former Soviet Union, Russian became another official language in Dagestan. Instruction in Russian became mandatory in schools, and a policy of Russification (Russianization) in Dagestan was pursued throughout the Soviet years. In the 20th century, Russian has replaced Arabic as a common language. Despite Soviet efforts to promote Russification and curtail education and publication in the native languages of Dagestan, the peoples of Dagestan have managed to retain and use their languages. The remoteness of their mountain villages has been a factor, and the relatively peaceful conditions in Dagestan have provoked little active interference from Russia in educational and cultural issues.


Each ethnic group has its own particular folkloric tradition. Folk tales are passed orally from generation to generation, and some themes common to the peoples of Dagestan emerge. The tales are usually epic in nature, emphasizing heroism in battle, bravery, and loyalty to clan, village or family. In particular, the history of the Caucasian Wars has captured the imagination of many ethnic groups, and the themes of the struggles with Russians often enter the folkloric narrative. Only in the late 1990s did much interest develop in gathering these folk tales into written collections. Also, biographies of national historical heroes, such as the Imam Shamil, have been published.

In addition to epic bravery and historical detail, religious themes find expression in folkloric form. The Muslim peoples tell of events from the life of Muhammad and histories of local Muslim figures. Similarly, the Mountain Jews tell stories from their own religious tradition.


Aside from the Mountain Jews and the Christian Cossacks, the peoples of Dagestan are almost exclusively Muslim. Islam has an ancient history in Dagestan, some historical accounts suggesting that Islam was introduced to Dagestan in medieval times. Islam remains a very strong force in Dagestan, and state efforts throughout the Soviet years to curtail the practice of Islam and enforce atheist ideas were not successful. In the capital of Makhachkala, most demonstrations are of a religious, rather than ethnic, nature. Dagestanis of various ethnic groups will often join together to work toward a common goal related to Islam. For instance, the peoples of Dagestan have joined together to demonstrate in favor of diverse Islamic causes ranging from protesting Russian and American interference in the Middle East to objecting to the rising costs of airplane tickets for the pilgrimage to Mecca.

Although the Mountain Jews and the Cossacks do not observe Islam, they have been treated respectfully by the Muslim majority. These two groups have been able to observe their religious beliefs relatively free from interference by Muslim peoples. In particular, the Mountain Jews have retained an ancient Jewish faith featuring a unique blending of Caucasian Mountaineer practices and Jewish religious traditions. Fundamentalist Islam had made inroads, especially among some highlanders. Russia is seeking to discourage the spread of this form of Islam.


Many of the Muslim peoples celebrate the Muslim festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Ramadan. During Ramadan, adults fast during the daytime, abstaining from both food and water as long as the sun is up. Children, the sick, and pregnant women are not obliged to fast. The festival of Eid al-Fitr marks the end of Ramadan and is celebrated by sumptuous feasting.

During the Soviet period, official holidays were introduced. These included the celebration of the 1917 Revolution (November 7) and the Day of International Socialism (May 1). Schools and workplaces were closed on these days, and the state sponsored cultural events and fireworks displays. The officially atheist Soviet government also sponsored a New Year's holiday, which was acceptable because of the lack of religious significance. While the other Soviet holidays were not of great cultural significance to most Dagestan peoples, New Year's Day was, and still is, widely celebrated.


For the peoples of Dagestan in general, the birth of a boy is celebrated with greater festivity and enthusiasm than that of a girl. For all ethnic groups but the Cossacks, the ceremony of circumcision marks the initiation of a baby boy into the family and community. There is no similar ceremony for girls. However, babies of both sexes are registered with local authorities, and relatives, friends, and neighbors visit and bring gifts of welcome for the baby. Traditionally, young boys and girls spent most of their time with their mothers, learning the basic expectations regarding social behavior. Girls would work alongside their mothers, grandmothers, and other female relatives to learn the skills of cooking, spinning, weaving, and household maintenance. Boys developed many skills by playing and rough-housing with each other. Once a boy was able, he would join his father and other male relatives to learn the farming skills of their mainly agricultural way of life. Many Dagestani peoples view a boy's first trip to the pastures as a rite of passage and mark this development with a celebration in recognition of the boy's approach to manhood. The start of formal schooling for both boys and girls at age seven marks another transition in a child's life.

Traditionally, Dagestani teenagers did not have the opportunity to enjoy a period of youthful freedom. Young men were expected to marry by their mid-teens, and girls even earlier, so that young people quickly assumed the responsibilities of adult life. Furthermore, as the youngest adults in the family group, they were expected to behave deferentially and respectfully toward parents and elders. Today, young people usually complete their education before marrying, and thus do not enter into adult life directly from childhood. However, by Western standards, young people in Dagestan marry young, usually by their late teens or early twenties. Young people are expected to treat their elders with great respect and live up to traditional expectations.

As young couples have children, and as their younger siblings marry, they acquire greater authority in the household. The couple gains even further status as elder members of a household when their children marry.

Particularly in the mountain villages, the death of a community member is observed by the entire community. Despite attempts of the Soviet regime to develop and encourage atheist funeral rites, religious observance of funerals and wakes is well-established and practiced throughout Dagestan. While the different peoples observe various customs surrounding death, burial, and remembrance, in almost all cases the family of the deceased holds a large feast, to which all extended family and community members are invited. Such feasts are usually very expensive undertakings because a skimpy funeral is regarded as a sign of disrespect to both the deceased and the guests.


Generally, men greet each other with handshakes. Women rarely shake hands, either with each other or with men. This is especially so in rural regions. In larger cities, women involved in professional careers will shake hands as a form of greeting and professional courtesy.

Social life in Dagestan follows traditional patterns, and children and young people are expected to assume responsibilities at home. Between household obligations and school, especially in families involved in agriculture, young people in Dagestan have relatively little time for leisure and socializing with peers. In the teenage years, young women and men are not encouraged to spend time in each other's company unless they are in a large group or accompanied by an adult. In formal circumstances, many families observe gender segregation, with women and men socializing and dining separately from one another. Young people tend to be more flexible, spending more time in groups with both genders.

Throughout the Caucasus, traditions of hospitality are firmly rooted and observed. This is true for the peoples of Dagestan, who are known for their hospitable reception of guests. Guests are expected to reciprocate any invitations, however.


Traditionally, the peoples of Dagestan lived in villages with others from the same ethnic group. The enclosed courtyard, which houses all the family buildings behind a high fence, is a traditionally Caucasian type of dwelling and is found throughout Dagestan. The family courtyard and living arrangement is almost always patrilocal, meaning that family members always lived under the roof of male, rather than female, relatives. Each family usually had its own plot of land, but pastures and meadows, where the sheep grazed, were considered the common property of the entire village.

In contemporary times, rural conditions remain fairly traditional, and people continue to live with their extended families in courtyards. While most villages have electricity, many homes lack central heating and running water. Some mountain villages are quite remote, and villagers may have a difficult time getting to the city for medical attention, supplies, or services, especially during the winter.

In the course of the 20th century, the Dagestani peoples have gradually begun to move into urban areas to take advantage of educational, economic, and professional opportunities.

In the cities, conditions more closely resemble European or North American life. Many people live in apartments. While newlyweds and young couples will often share the apartment of the groom's parents, most aspire to move into a place of their own.

After the collapse of Soviet power, many essential services in Dagestan declined. In the cities, water and electricity supply can be irregular and unreliable. In 1994, Dagestan faced a serious medical crisis during a cholera epidemic. The cholera was suspected to have originated in Saudi Arabia and carried back by Dagestani pilgrims returning from Mecca. A decaying water purification system allowed the cholera to spread quickly. The government lacked the medical and technical resources necessary to control the spread of the disease and was forced to apply to Moscow for assistance. Repairs of the decaying infrastructure are dependent on a strengthened Dagestani economy during the transition from a Soviet, state-run economy to a stable free-market system. Until such time as Dagestan can sustain a strong economy, it will rely on heavy subsidies from Moscow, as it did during most of the 20th century.


Traditionally, for most of the peoples of Dagestan, the paternal extended family was the basic social and economic unit. Grandparents, parents, and children lived within a single courtyard, either in the same dwelling or in separate dwellings, depending upon the local customs of the particular village or ethnic group. Generally, the father of the household's sons was considered the elder of the household and had the ultimate decision-making power. The wife of the elder man presided over the running of the household and of the younger women. Rural families still organize their households according to these traditions, but many urban families live in nuclear family units, consisting only of parents and young, unmarried children.

In marriage, the wishes of the elders played a strong role in the choice of a spouse, although young people sometimes made their preferences known to their parents. A couple who wished to marry against the wishes of their parents might carry out a mock kidnapping, with the young man and his close male friends abducting the bride and taking her off to be married. Sometimes the mock kidnapping would be arranged in advance by the couple. Less frequently, a young man who was unable to obtain the consent of the girl he desired might kidnap her forcibly.

Most of the ethnic groups of Dagestan strongly encourage young people, particularly girls, to marry within their ethnic group. Young people have been willing to comply with this stipulation, and have thus helped to ensure the survival of their particular ethnic group. Traditionally, a woman would enter marriage with a dowry, which included household supplies, livestock, foodstuffs, and even land. The groom's family would pay a cash bride-price to the family of the bride. Dowries and bride prices were outlawed during the Soviet period, but continue to be part of the wedding arrangements of many peoples of Dagestan.

For most of the peoples of Dagestan, a bride would go to live in the household of her husband's parents. As the junior woman in the household, she could expect several years of hard work, until a younger woman or new bride joined the household and assumed the unfortunate role of junior female. In the cities, however, conditions have changed, and most young couples try to move out on their own, especially after having children.

In cases of divorce, Muslim law held that the children of the marriage should remain in the custody of the father. The Mountain Jews are the exception to this, and children traditionally remain with the mother. In recent times, Soviet and state laws have favored maternal custody of children. Traditionally, women were allowed to retain the value of their dowries upon divorce.

Although urbanization and modernization have brought some changes to the structure of family life in Dagestan, most of the peoples of Dagestan, particularly those in remote mountain villages, have remained loyal to traditional values. Since the collapse of Soviet power, traditional values have grown more popular among young people, who are often even more conservative than their parents.


The traditional attire of men in Dagestan was similar to that worn by men throughout the Caucasus. High-collared shirts, usually white, with long, full sleeves were worn under a short-sleeved, tunic-like garment. Belted tightly at the waist, this tunic was otherwise full and flared, and usually made of black or dark grey cloth. The jacket was decorated with bullets, which were held in special fabric loops. The number of bullets traditionally increased with a man's battle experience, local prestige, age, and alleged bravery. Long, black leather boots and loose trousers tucked into the boots were suitable for horseback riding. Men usually wore a head covering-a tall, pillbox-shaped sheepskin hat.

The traditional female dress featured a fitted, lined bodice with full sleeves that could be cuffed at the wrists or left hanging loose, and a long wide skirt. For formal occasions, the dress featured a decorated insert sewn into the front of the bodice. Women wore slippers indoors and leather boots outdoors. The boots were similar to the men's, but were more highly decorated and made in brighter colors. Women also wore head coverings, usually kerchiefs or headscarves made of various fabrics, with woolen or simple cotton fabrics for everyday use, and silk for ceremonial occasions. Generally, older women wore darker colors like black, dark grey, or brown, while younger women wore brighter scarves. For funerals or somber occasions, darker scarves were worn. Women also wore gold or silver jewelry, often highly ornamented.

Today, both men and women have adopted conservative Western-style dress. Most women wear skirts and rarely wear jeans or trousers. Both men and women continue to wear head coverings, particularly older people in rural regions. Jewelry continues to be popular, and Dagestani metalworkers produce highly decorative gold and silver jewelry.


The Muslim peoples of Dagestan and the Mountain Jews observe similar traditional dietary restrictions. Meat is slaughtered according to a prescribed ritual that is common to both the Muslims and Mountain Jews. Pork is not consumed by either Muslims or Jews, and Muslims traditionally do not drink alcohol.

Throughout Dagestan, the staple meat is lamb or mutton. Shashlik, or shish-kabob, is one of the most popular ways of preparing lamb. In addition to shashlik, popular lamb dishes include roast lamb, peppers or tomatoes stuffed with lamb, and lamb stew. Many of the peoples of Dagestan prepare a dish of boiled dumplings, stuffed with a mixture of lamb, garlic, and onions. Another traditional dish is made of grape or cabbage leaves rolled in cigar-like shapes, stuffed with a mixture of lamb, rice, and onions.

Rice or wheat porridge is a common breakfast food, as is bread and cheese. Side dishes for lunches and dinners include potatoes, rice pilaf, tomatoes, and stewed beans. Desserts are usually simple, featuring fresh fruits in season, jams and preserves, dried fruits, and sweet breads. Tea and coffee are imported and frequently served, especially after the evening meal.


Traditionally, most children did not receive formal education, but were educated at home in the tasks of running the household. Some boys were sent for religious training and received their education in clerical academies. After the Soviet government came to power, primary education became mandatory. Throughout the 1920s, schools were built in both rural and urban areas, and families were required to send their children to school. At first, many families were reluctant and did not see the value of formal education, especially for girls. However, this resistance was overcome.

Although some children in urban areas may attend nursery school or kindergarten, most children start school in the first grade at age seven. Children are educated in both Russian and their own ethnic language. Graduation from the eleventh grade, the highest grade of basic education, marks a point of transition as young people must decide whether to pursue further education, a trade, or, in many cases, to remain in the village to work on the family farm. For rural families, it is expected that at least one son will choose to remain on the farm. Although Dagestan has various institutes and a university, ambitious and exceptionally bright students may apply to prestigious universities in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Some young women may elect to marry and raise a family rather than pursuing a career or higher education.


The peoples of Dagestan take great pride in their ethnic and cultural identities and customs. They strongly resisted government attempts to promote the adoption of Russian and European culture and values during the Soviet period. Each particular ethnic group adheres to its own customs, encouraging each successive generation to marry and raise a family within the ethnic community. Since the collapse of Soviet power, the peoples of Dagestan have made efforts to improve education and popularization of traditional customs and practices.

The peoples of Dagestan are also loyal to the common, multiethnic state of Dagestan. Because each ethnic group is protective of its own customs and traditions, separatist movements have made little headway in Dagestan. The common experiences of war, repression by Russian and Soviet governments, and many common cultural values have created a harmonious multiethnic state.


Agriculture is the traditional occupation of the peoples of Dagestan. While most families kept gardens, and wheat was grown in some of the lowland areas, sheep farming was the main form of agriculture. The high mountain pastures and alpine meadows were well-suited for sheep farming, and men lived a seminomadic life, taking the sheep to various pastures and returning home on a regular basis.

Many rural families continue traditional agricultural employment. Although the Soviet government tried to nationalize agriculture, turning the farmers into land-users and state-farm workers, the nationalization of agriculture met with limited success. For the most part, traditional patterns of agricultural activity persisted, although farmers were obliged to give a quota of their produce to the state.

With urbanization and modernization, more career opportunities have become available for citizens of Dagestan. The Caspian coast offers opportunities to engage in import/export businesses with other countries.


Horse-racing and trick riding are traditional sports common to many Dagestani ethnic groups. Children learned to ride at a very young age and competed with peers. Aside from its function as recreational activity, the equestrian sports helped boys develop the riding skills that they would need later in life as herdsmen.

Boys in particular are encouraged to engage in sports. Displays of strength and speed are valued, making both wrestling and soccer popular. In rural areas, horseback riding continues to be a popular sport.


Home entertainment is one of the most common forms of recreation. Because there are few restaurants or cafés, people usually visit each other's homes. Hospitality is an important social value in the Caucasus, and hosts consider themselves responsible for a guest's pleasure.

Young people socialize at school or at work. They may visit each other's homes, although these are rather formal occasions presided over by parents. In warm weather, people of all ages enjoy going for strolls, especially in the early evening. For young people, this provides a welcome opportunity to get together free of parental company.


A variety of arts and crafts are practiced among the peoples of Dagestan. Commonly practiced crafts include spinning, weaving, and knitting. Some men excel in woodworking and carpentry. While these crafts are common to peoples of the Caucasus Mountains generally, some other arts are unique to Dagestan.

Metalworking, especially the creation of ornaments and jewelry in silver and gold, is a traditional Dagestani craft. A certain ornate style, combining gold and silver with an oxidized black design and textured ornamentation, is unique to Dagestan and is sold throughout the former Soviet Union. Ceremonial daggers, ewers, rings (for both men and women), earrings, and bracelets are among the more commonly-produced items.

Another craft practiced in Dagestan is carpetmaking. Dagestani carpets are of unique design. They resemble Persian or Turkish carpets, except that the Dagestani artists tend to make greater use of earth-tone colors and animal shapes. Dagestani carpets rival the more famous Turkish and Persian carpets for quality of workmanship and artistry of design.


The most pressing social problems have been brought on by the transition from the state-run, Soviet system to the present, free-market system. While most people are pleased to have gained greater political and cultural freedom, many aspects of life have grown more difficult. Unemployment is high, especially in cities, and citizens have little knowledge of how to cope in such conditions. Many people who formerly held prestigious or powerful positions now find themselves out of work. The elderly are often impoverished, their pensions rendered nearly valueless by severe inflation. The general impoverishment and financial difficulties of Dagestan have resulted in declining maintenance of basic sanitation, water supply, electricity, and medical services. Thus, social anxiety, cynicism, and sense of hopelessness can be felt in many sectors of society. The new oil wealth that flows through Russia proper to the north and through the Azerbaijani south has yet to trickle through Dagestan.

Another social problem involves the rise in violence in the region. While Dagestan has been relatively free of conflict, wars and armed clashes in neighboring regions have resulted in the ready availability of weapons. Thus, in Dagestan, such crimes as armed robbery and vandalism are rising. With the increase of import/export opportunities, smuggling has also increased. Occasional political violence erupts as assassinations or bombings in Makhachkala.


The results of modern research suggest that, in Dagestan, there is discrimination of women and infringement of women's rights in all spheres of private and public life. The unemployment rate, the incidence of severe disease, and the mortality rate among women of Dagestan are traditionally higher than among men. About 92% of the women of Dagestan call unemployment their main problem. In cities, women have the opportunity to study and work, but take only minor jobs and service posts. Business and politics are closed spheres for the Dagestan women. According to Islam, which is practiced in Dagestan more strictly than in other parts of Northern Caucasus, a woman cannot be considered equal to a male business partner in a transaction and cannot even participate in the negotiations. In the mountains, women are deprived not only of work but also of basic necessities for life, such as health care.

The leader of a charitable fund for women, Ayshat Magomedova, describes the lives of modern women in the mountains of Dagestan: "In mountain villages there is no gas, light or water. A woman in a mountain village works for a full light day. She is the main instrument for carrying weights. During the day, one woman takes the brunt of all the needs for water, firewood to cook food and warm the house, and hay for the animals. To see a doctor, a woman must also undergo a long walk of 50 kilometers to get to a district centre, because the villages do not have a paved way, so they cannot travel by transportation. It often happens that a seriously ill or pregnant woman takes the road and simply dies halfway."

The state is indifferent to the problems of Dagestani women. The only charity hospital in the capital of Dagestan, supported by foreign funds, has been closed in 2007 by the authorities after the tightening of a law in Russia on non-governmental organizations, banning foreign funds to carry out its activities on the Russian territory.


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