Last Updated: Friday, 31 October 2014, 13:33 GMT

Azerbaijan: Information on the Lezghinian minority group

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 1 February 1995
Citation / Document Symbol AZE19716.E
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Azerbaijan: Information on the Lezghinian minority group, 1 February 1995, AZE19716.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3ae6aac850.html [accessed 31 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

 

According to Europa, citing the 1989 census, the "Lezghi" minority group makes up 2.4 per cent of the population of Azerbaijan, which was about 7.17 million in 1991 (1994, 442). The World Directory of Minorities groups "Lezghins" among the "Daghestani" people of Azerbaijan, who in 1979 collectively numbered 205,000 and made up 3.4 per cent of the population of Azerbaijan (1990, 147). A table entitled "Nationalities of the USSR in 1979" in The Soviet Multinational State: Readings and Documents (Olcott 1990, 600) also lists "Lezghians" among the "Peoples of Daghestan", and numbers the Lezghian population throughout the then-USSR at 382,611. The table also states that the "peoples of Daghestan" are mostly Sunni Muslim, a statement corroborated by the INS (Aug. 1993, 19), The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1977, 461), and a report by the Islamic Republic News Agency covered by the BBC Summary of World Broadcasts (23 May 1994), but contradicted by the World Directory of Minorities, which describes the "Lezghins" as "mostly Shi'ite" (1990, 147). Another population table, in In a Collapsing Empire: Underdevelopment, Ethnic Conflicts and Nationalisms in the Soviet Union, states that the total population of "Lezgins" in the USSR in 1989 was 466,006 (1993, 363). According to the INS research paper, however, unofficial estimates claim the population of "Lezgians" within Azerbaijan is much higher, "the majority of Lezgians having registered themselves as Azeris during the Soviet period due to social and political pressure to conform to the dominant ethnic group" (Aug. 1993, 19; see also Russian Press Digest 5 May 1993; ibid. 9 Sept. 1992).

Please find attached a number of articles discussing issues of concern to Lezgins in Azerbaijan, including the division of the ethnic group by the border with Russia, and the movement for an independent Lezgian state.

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the DIRB within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 23 May 1994. "President Promises to Restore Religious Sites." (NEXIS)

The Europa World Year Book 1994. 1994. 34th ed. Vol. 1. London: Europa Publications.

Great Soviet Encyclopedia. 1977. Vol. 14. New York: MacMillan.

In a Collapsing Empire: Underdevelopment, Ethnic conflicts and Nationalisms in the Soviet Union. 1993. Edited by Marco Buttino. Translated by Michael Eve and Maria Luisa Rotondi. Milan: Fondazione Giangiacomo Feltrinelli Milano.

Russian Press Digest [Moscow]. 5 May 1993. Maxim Volodin. "Lezghins On Both Sides Of Border." (NEXIS)

_____. 1992. Radik Batyrshin and Natalia Pachegina. "Moscow Has Sent Troops to Daghestan." (NEXIS)

The Soviet Multinational State: Readings and Documents. 1990. Edited by Martha B. Olcott. Armonk, New York: M.E. Sharpe.

United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Resource Information Center. August 1993. Alert Series: Azerbaijan: The Status of Armenians, Russians, Jews and Other Minorities. Washington, DC: INS Resource Information Center.

World Directory of Minorities. 1990. "Azerbaijanis." The High, Harlow, Essex: Longman Group UK.

Attachments

        Agence France Presse (AFP). 26 June 1992. "Lezgians Call for Their Own Independent State in the Caucasus." (NEXIS)

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts. 20 June 1994. "Lezgins Involved in Clash with Authorities over Deserters." (NEXIS)

_____. 23 May 1994. "President Promises to Restore Religious Sites." (NEXIS)

_____. 10 May 1994. "Internal Troops Called in as Lezghis and Azerbaijanis Protest in Dagestan." (NEXIS)

_____. 31 July 1992. "Lezghin Party Conference Ends in Baku." (NEXIS)

_____. 29 June 1992. "Other Reports; Lezghins Threaten Civil Disobedience if Not United." (NEXIS)

Great Soviet Encyclopedia. 1977. Vol. 14. New York: MacMillan, p. 461.

ITAR-TASS World Service [Moscow, in Russian]. 22 June 1992. Gadzhi Shamov. "Lezgins Protest Border with Azerbaijan." (FBIS-SOV-92-124 26 June 1992, p. 70)

Nezavisimaya Gazeta [Moscow, in Russian]. 28 May 1992. "Lezgin Leaders Oppose Compulsory Draft." (FBIS-SOV-92-103 28 May 1992, p. 75).

Novaya Yezhednevnaya Gazeta [Moscow, in Russian]. 18 June 1994. "Paper Says Kusarskiy Rayon Lezgins Slain by Azeris." (FBIS-SOV-94-119 21 June 1994, p. 66)

Radio Rossii Network [Moscow, in Russian]. 27 June 1992. "Envoy Meets Lezgin Representatives for Talks." (FBIS-SOV-92-125 29 June 1992, pp. 69-70)

Obschchaya Gazeta [Moscow, in Russian]. 18-24 February 1994. Seyfalin Akhundov. "Possible Stricter Azeri-Russian Border Control Concerns Lezgins." (FBIS-USR-94-024 14 Mar. 1994, pp. 7-8)

Russian Press Digest [Moscow]. 5 May 1993. Maxim Volodin. "Lezghins On Both Sides Of Border." (NEXIS)

_____. 27 March 1993. Aidyn Mekhtiyev. "Lezghin Problem Exacerbates." (NEXIS)

_____. 10 September 1992. Yevgeny Krutikov. "Lezghins Give Up Territorial Claims." (NEXIS)

_____. 9 September 1992. Radik Batyrshin and Natalia Pachegina. "Moscow Has Sent Troops to Daghestan." (NEXIS)

_____. 21 July 1992. Aidyn Mekhtiyev. "New 'Hot Spot'?" (NEXIS)

_____. 17 June 1992. Mikhail Karpov. "Between Azerbaijan and the Chechen Republic." (NEXIS)

The Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union (TASS). 28 May 1993. Sergei Staroselvsky and Leonid Timofeev. "Russia Holds Discussions with Azerbaijan." (NEXIS)

United States Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) Resource Information Center. August 1993. Alert Series: Azerbaijan: The Status of Armenians, Russians, Jews and Other Minorities. Washington, DC: INS Resource Information Center.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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