Azerbaijan has already come forward and offered to hand over Hadji Murad’s remains
The skull of 19th-Century North Caucasian military leader Hadji Murad, which is currently held in St Petersburg, will be buried in its homeland in Dagestan, the Russian Duma has ruled.
His body, however, is another story – his body is in Azerbaijan.
It is still not clear when and how the two parts will be reunited. However, the burial “will take place later, taking into account the current domestic political situation in the republic” [of unrest concerning territorial boundaries], the Russian Duma has ruled.
Baku, for its part, has announced its willingness to cooperate.
Hadji Murad (b. 1818 d. 1852) was a North Caucasian military leader and national hero, a participant in the struggle of the Caucasian mountain nations against the Russian Empire. He also features in a story by the same name by Leo Tolstoy. His skull is kept in the St Petersburg Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography. In 1852 he was taken to Russia as a war trophy. He was killed in the north of Azerbaijan, in Gakh district.
This decision was preceded by two factions warring over the rights to both the body and the skull:
The public organization “The Legacy of Leo Tolstoy and Dagestan” demanded that the body and head of Hadji Murad be buried in Dagestan, in his native village of Khunzakh.
The descendants of Hadji-Murad have requested that his skull be taken back to Azerbaijan and put in the grave where his body is buried.