By J. Morison
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Additional resources for Ethnic and National Issues in Russian and East European History
As a result of such infringements, loyalty to Islam inevitably prompted believers to oppose imperial rule as such. The emergence of new forms of socialisation in the Caucasus obviously clashed with the traditional lifestyles of certain local ethnic groups. I am referring to the so-called raiding system. Mark Bliev, a leading expert in this field, believes that the raids and then the War of the Caucasus were part of the integral spread of feudal social relations in the highlands of Dagestan and Chechnia.
This was clear to the viceroy, Marion Vorontsov-Dashkov, who, during the turbulent year of 1906, wrote to the emperor that there was no danger to the state's territorial integrity in the 'relative isolation of the territory' or in the 'principles' which the viceroy suggested for the Caucasus's administration. 4 The super-centralised Soviet empire made the same mistakes as its forerunner had made, thereby 'programming' the collapse of the Communist regime. 5 The emergence of the The Russian Empire and the Caucasus 15 'Eastern Question' drew the Caucasus into the sphere of complicated international relations involving England, Turkey, Persia and Russia.
The absence of reliable communica -tions hampered trade (which was mostly barter). Generally, the region was a natural economy with backward and extensive methods of soiltilling. Caucasia, which covered a geographically quite limited area, was a patchwork of ethnic groups. Arab geographers referred to the Caucasus as Jebel-ul-al-Sun - 'the Mountain of Languages'. In Dagestan alone, there were 81 ethnic groups, each speaking its distinctive dialect. Polyethnicity was compounded by poly-confessionality (apparently, the Balkans were the only place where Christianity and Islam were as closely in contact as in the Caucasus, to say nothing of deeply-rooted pagan traditions and other faiths and sects).