Last modified: 2009-01-17 by ivan sache
Keywords: avar | zaqatala | zakatala | avaristan | secessionist |
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Flag of the claimed "Zaqatala District" - Image by Chrystian Kretowicz & Ivan Sache, 2 June 2008Zakatala (in Azeri, Zaqatala) District was included in Russian Georgia in Tsarist times. After the Republic of Azerbaijan was created in 1918, the Avar majority of Zakatala district decided to join it under the condition they would be granted an autonomous status when the affairs of the state settle down. Soon, the newly independent Azerbaijan was overrun by the Red Army and became a Soviet Republic. The Soviets didn't give an autonomy to the Avars of Zakatala either.
In 1991, Azerbaijan regained independence and the Avars renewed their demands for autonomy within the Azeri state. They are separated from their brothers in Daghestan (Russia) by the mountains and the road to connect both communities is still under construction, strangely delayed by the Azeri government. The demands for a Zakatala Autonomous Okrug (ZAO) are led now by the Avar National Union-Imam Shamil, active on both sides of the border. The Zakatalskiy Avtonomnyi Okrug they envision would include the three northern Azeri districts of Zakatala, Bilkan and Kakhib. The Avars constitute there a 56% majority, followed by the Azeris (21%), the Tsakhurs (13%) and the Muslim Georgians (10%). The flag used illegally there is white with two double and narrow red stripes at the top and bottom and an old Avar symbol in blue at the center.
Flag of the "Republic of Avaristan" - Image by Eugene Ipavec, 16 August 2008
According to an article by Bilender Najafly, published in Hurriyyet on 30 April 2002, the flag of the "Republic of Avaristan", horizontally divided green-red with a white triangle placed along the hoist, appeared during the night of April 26, 2002 on the wall of a Russian
school in the village of Katekh in Azerbaijan's Zagatal district, which is mainly inhabited by Avars who want to establish an independent republic of Avaristan.
Six armed perpetrators removed the placard with the Azerbaijani state flag and emblem and the slogan "Azerbaijan's Independence is Eternal!" from that wall and replaced it with the flag of the "Republic of Avaristan" and a new slogan, which reads "Avaristan's Independence is Eternal!"
Chrystian Kretowicz, 21 May 2008