Cascade Newsletter – Issue No.5


The problems of mountain areas in the North Caucasus at the core of a recent conference

Cascade_Caucasus_Vladimir_KolosovEditorial by Vladimir Kolosov, Head of the Centre of Geopolitical Studies at the Institute of Geography and Professor at the Moscow Institute of International Relations.

The Mountain Forum “Efficient Development of Mountainous Territories of Russia” was held in Makhachkala on 26-29 July. It was sponsored by the government of Dagestan as a part of the Year of Mountains celebrated in the republic. The main objective was to promote the specific interests of mountain regions, particularly in the North Caucasus where a considerable part of population still lives in the mountains. In Dagestan – literally “the country of mountains” – mountaineers make up 30% of inhabitants, more than in any other part of Caucasus and throughout Russia. In total, 53% of the territory of 43 Russian regions and republics are located in mountains. CASCADE_newsletter_5Because of severe natural conditions, isolation and low productivity of traditional agriculture (most often the principal and even the only branch of economy), these regions suffer from fast depopulation, which causes serious damage to the fragile mountain environment. In North Ossetia only 1% of population currently lives at high altitudes.
Yet mountains are the cradle of many ethnic groups and concentrate an important part of their natural and cultural heritage, there-by playing a key role in their identity. It is known that Caucasians are emotion-ally very tied to their homelands and try to keep their ancestors’ houses as long as possible. (more…)

CASCADE Final Conference 20-21 October 2016 Brussels

CASCADE’s final academic conference “The Democracy-Security Nexus in and around the Caucasus” took place on 20-21 October 2016 at the Université libre de Bruxelles (ULB) in Brussels and centred around the overall theme of the project itself – The Security-Democracy nexus in and around the Caucasus region.

Welcoming remarks by Andrea Rea, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, ULB

Welcoming remarks by Andrea Rea, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences, ULB

The conference was organised by the CASCADE partners at the FMSH, the University of Birmingham, and the ULB and featured 11 panels with 36 paper presentations and up to 60 participants (including presenters, chairs and discussants). The conference was opened by Andrea Rea (Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences at the ULB), Laure Delcour (Scientific coordinator of CASCADE project) and Derek Averre (University of Birmingham).

The conference aimed to re-examine the link between security and democratisation in the context of growing authoritarianism and new protest movements, as well as conflict transformation resulting from broader political upheavals in the wider neighbourhood.

Panel 9: Migration and mobilities in and out of the Caucasus

Panel 9: Migration and mobilities in and out of the Caucasus

This re-examination was informed by a combination of macro- and micro-approaches and the various panels represented at the conference mirrored well the true (academic) diversity of the CASCADE project itself. They ranged from Gender, Activism and the Role of Women in the Caucasus; Migration and Mobilities in and out of the Caucasus; Modernisation and Development; Civil Society; to Conflict and Violence; War Veterans; Religion and Domestic Regimes; Cleavages and Cooperation as well as Caucasus in Comparative Perspective.

CASCADE Final Conference 20-21 October 2016 BrusselsThe conference was attended by up to 200 people. Closing remarks were given by Laure Delcour and Nino Kemoklidze.

Find more photos in our Photo Gallery.

Dagestan: tradition as a chance for modernization

Article by Olga Vendina, September 2016 


Local development, by whomever it is initiated – the State, private investors or small businesses, secular or religious authorities and institutions, is dependent on available resources and people participation. If the new possibilities meet the needs and expectations of the population, the local development is successful; on the contrary, if the viewed perspectives mismatch the imaginary picture, the scenario can be reversed: despite the enthusiasm about the development, the society will resist changes. The declared objectives will come into conflict with the perception of the expected results and their usefulness. The paper is aimed to analyse this dilemma by the example of Dagestan. The author points to the discrepancy between the rational logic of economic management and people behaviour influenced by the local culture. Presuming that culture impacts on the local development together with investments, resources and institutions, the author, employing interviews and group discussions, outlines the symbiosis of tradition and modernity in Dagestan society. The analysis leads to a conclusion that the role of traditions in modernisation processes is underestimated in Dagestan, and the general tools of regional socio-economic development are insufficient in the situation when a secular system of values competes with religious one. At the end, an attempt to identify the ways to address this problem is made.

First published in a revue of The North Caucasus Federal University «Science. Innovations. Technologies»: Stavropol, 2016, n 3, pp. 137-165. The full version is available here (issue 3).  

The special issue "Religion and Society in the Caucasus: Post-Soviet Dynamics" of "Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov' v Rossii i za rubezhom" № 2 (34), 2016

The special issue “Religion and Society in the Caucasus: Post-Soviet Dynamics” of “Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom № 2 (34), 2016 coordinated by Alexandre Agadjanian and Silvia Serranocover_gosudarstvo_religia

Articles by CASCADE researchers in this special issue:

Silvia Serrano (WP6) “The Time of Cathedrals: Religious Buildings and Political Legitimation in Post-Soviet Georgia”, Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 34(2): 133-155.

In the past two decades, the Orthodox Church of Georgia as an institution has been considerably strengthened, and its influence in the public space has significantly grown. As demonstrated by numerous studies, this is partly due to the link between national and religious identities and to the instrumentalization of religion by political elites. However, the concrete ways in which the public authorities have sought to establish their legitimacy thanks to religious references remain to be scrutinized, as well as the constraints they are subjected to. This article focuses on the games of power and strategies of the Patriarchate and the Government around the construction and reconstruction of two cathedrals, Sameba and Bagrati, and on the challenges of building the symbolic national space. Through the analysis of the attempts of the Saakashvili Government to use the symbolic resources provided by major religious buildings, it sheds some light on the limits of the instrumentalization of Orthodoxy in the legitimization of power. Full text of the article.

Zviadadze Sophie (WP6) “The Cult of Monk Gabriel: Institutionalization of Popular Religion and Its Political Dimension in Geogia”, Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 34(2): 226-254.

Monk Gabriel (1929-1995) is one of the most popular religious personalities in modern Georgia. His sermons and prophecies became very popular in the early 1990s and still are to this date. The expanding Internet social networks added to his popularity. His name is connected with miraculous healings; his grave became a sort of a modern shrine in the Georgian Orthodox Church. The phenomenon is on the verge between official and popular religion. His name became a source of legitimation for the Church as well as for the political establishment. In 2012 the “strange monk” was canonized as a saint, in 2014 his body was reburied in the Sameba cathedral in Tbilisi, and an avenue was renamed after him. The whole phenomenon shows the changing and complex role of religion in post-communist Georgian society. The full article is available here.

Zaytseva Anna (WP6) “Cohesion of Religious Communities in Situation of Conflict: A Case Study of Confrontations around Imam n a Dagestani Village”, Gosudarstvo, religiia, tserkov’ v Rossii i za rubezhom 34(2): 281-309.

The article is fieldwork-based and is devoted to the study of social cohesion in the context of co-existence of various Muslim communities in a Dagestani village. The article explores social aspects of religious confrontations emerged around an episode of forced dismissal of a village imam who was accused of belonging to the Wahhabi network. The author analyses narratives around the imam, who is the central figure of the conflict, the main line of respective religious divide, and the flexibility of the boundaries between various groups/communities. As a conclusion, the article identifies preconditions of intensification of religious solidarity, its particular normative, cultural, and political dimensions. Read the full article here.


A CASCADE panel at the UACES Conference in London


CASCADE researchers at the conference (from left to right) : Nino Kemoklidze, Derek Averre and CASCADE Scientific Coordinator Laure Delcour

UACES 46th Annual Conference

Queen Mary University of London, 5-7 September 2016

A CASCADE panel was organised at the UACES Conference in London (Queen Mary University).

Derek Averre (University of Birmingham) presented a joint paper “Rethinking democracy and security in the Caucasus”, prepared with Kevork Oskanian.

Laure Delcour (FMSH) presented the preliminary findings of CASCADE WP9 on “Perceptions of the EU in the Caucasus” (paper co-authored with Kataryna Wolczuk, University of Birmingham) and Nino Kemoklidze (University of Birmingham) delivered a presentation on “Trade as a Confidence-Building Measures: Cases of Georgia and Moldova” (co-authored with Stefan Wolff, University of Birmingham).

Discover the conference’s programme here.

Out Now: "Poverty and migration in Georgia: what mobility partnerships can solve"

New CASCADE working paper 

By Kakha Gogolashvili, Senior Fellow at GFSIS 

deliverable_3-4There is an extensive literature on how poverty affects migration. Poverty is widely considered as a factor influencing individual decisions to emigrate. “Various country-specific studies on short-term contract international migration show that migration reduces poverty at the family level.” The impact of migration on poverty has also been intensively explored by a large number of research projects. In both cases there is established positive nonlinear correlation elsewhere in the world which leads us to conclude that people emigrate in a large extent to escape poverty and that poverty within the country is reduced thanks to emigration. Read the full working paper: cascade_caucasus_deliverable_3-4.


CASCADE's final events, 18-21 October

> Joint CASCADE-ISSICEU Final Policy Event “The European Union and the Caucasus: New eu_fp7_cascade_final_policy_event_brusselsPerspectives on an Evolving Relationship,” 18 October, Brussels: 

The final policy event (organised jointly with ISSICEU) will take place at the Permanent Representation of Sweden to the European Union, Square de Meeûs 30, Brussels.

– The programme

– Practical information and accommodation for participants


> The CASCADE’s Final Conference “The Democracy-Security Nexus in and around the Caucasus,” 20-21 October, Brussels:

This international conference will be organised as part of the EU-FP7 CASCADE project (www. It will critically re-examine the link between security and democratisation in the Caucasus, in a context of growing authoritarianism and new protest movements, as well as conflict transformation resulting from broader political upheavals in the wider neighbourhood. This re-examination will be informed by a combination of macro- and micro-approaches.



The conference will take place in Brussels (Université Libre de Bruxelles) on 20 and 21 October 2016. The event is free, but registration online is required.

– The call for proposals 

The programme

Registration online (required)

– Practical information and accommodation for participants


IGRAS team took part in the Mountain Forum in Dagestan and held a workshop on local development initiatives


Vladimir Kolosov at the Plenary Meeting, Mountains Forum 2016

The IGRAS team started its visit to Dagestan by the participation in the Mountain Forum “Efficient Development of Mountainous Territories of Russia” organized on 26-28 July by the government of the Republic. The Forum was a part of the Year of Mountains celebrated in Dagestan and was opened by Ramazan Abdulatipov, Head of the Republic, and Lev Kuznetsov, Federal Minister for North Caucasus Affairs. The event gathered a great number of scholars and experts from all republics and regions of North Caucasus, members of the Dagestani government and heads of municipal districts. Vladimir Kolosov was invited to make a presentation at the plenary meeting and Olga Vendina was a speaker at the session devoted to local initiatives in the afternoon.


Local inhabitants at the workshop

A workshop scheduled on local development initiatives was held on 30 July in the village of Churtakh, Lackh district, located at the altitude of about 2,100 m. Besides the members of the IGRAS team and Dagestani scholars, there were the heads of the mountainous Lackh District, the mayor of the village, experts from North Ossetia, Chechnya, Stavropol region and representatives of the CASCADE’s “sister” project ISSICEU. The workshop was opened in the presence of local inhabitants.

Find more information on the website of Russian Geographical Society and watch a video report on the Dagestani