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The research is supported by a grant of the Presidium of the Russian Academy of Sciences. Project I.1.24  of the Program of fundamental researches

 The article studies ethno-religious / confessional and legal aspects in the pre-Soviet practice of government of the Dagestan region. The Russian Empire was one of the most varied in the world with regard to the ethnic and religious relations. By the end of the 19th century, the Russian Empire covered an area of almost 22.5 million square km., and its 125.7 million population included, in addition to Russians (about 42.0%), two hundred peoples, followers of various religions and beliefs, including Islam (11.1%), Judaism (4, 2%) and Buddhism (0.5%). With the incorporation of Dagestan into Russia, in 1868 the feudal form of government or the Khanate(s) was abolished. The institutions of civil self- government of rural societies were adapted to the general imperial goals of government and subordinated to the tsarist administration. In general, administrative and territorial delimitation at grassroots level corresponded to the traditional divisions of rural societies. The former administrative division into “naibstva” (administrative units, from Arabic نَائِب (nāʾib) assistant, deputy head) was retained. The elected village administration was restored; the rural and district courts, as well as the regional Dagestan people’s court were created. The judges were elected, but under the supervision of the Tsar’s administration. In the social sphere, there was a conscious desire of Dagestanis to assert themselves locally as representatives of the royal power, to assimilate into the military and economic elites of the Russian Empire, to receive Russian education, and to master Russian culture. The new government model of Dagestan, like any administrative system, could not satisfy the interests of all segments of Dagestan society and, from this point of view, was far from ideal. However, in that particular historical period nothing more acceptable was offered by the Tsarist strategists to maintain regional stability and order. In any case, the Dagestanis received a more or less understandable form of government. The administrative structure and the new order of legal process, as legalized by the Regulation on the Administration of the Dagestan Region of April 5, 1860, in general, corresponded to the traditional system of governance and, from the point of view of political stability did not cause much concern to the Tsar’s administration.

Key words: Adat, Shariat, political culture of Dagestan, Imperial governing experience.

DOI: 10.22250/2072-8662.2019.1.29-37

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About the author


Magomedkhan  M. Magomedkhanov – Chief  of the Department of Ethnography of the Institute of History, Archeology and Ethnography of the Dagestan Scientific Center of the Russian Academy of Sciences; 

75 M. Yaragskogo str., Makgachkala, Russia, 367030; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Robert Chenciner – Honorary Researcher at St. Anthony's College of  Oxford University (UK);

12 Lloyds Square, London, WC IX 9BA;  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Saida M. Garunova – Junior Researcher, The G. Tsadasa Institute of Language, Literature and Art of the Daghestan Scientific Centre of RAS;

45 M. Gadzhiev str., Makhachkala, Russia, 367032; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.