Chechnya: Monster in the Mountains – II


Killed in 2006… Chechen commander Shamil Basayev.
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WHO IS TO BLAME? WHO IS TO GAIN?

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by John Russell

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Basayev was finally tracked down and killed in July 2006, a fate that, sooner or later, surely awaits Umarov. Inevitably, however, a successor will be found and the conflict will drag on until and unless a satisfactory political resolution is achieved.

While it is understandable that the Russian leadership is keen to stress the international nature of the common threat posed by such terror groups, and even point the finger at ‘foreign intelligence services’ in organising the Moscow blasts, the reality is that Russian domestic policy must shoulder the lion’s share of the blame for the North Caucasus tragedy.

Having effectively chosen, under Putin, to follow the Eurasianist ‘great power’ path of development, territorial integrity and a highly-centralised political ‘vertical’ became essential for Russia’s survival. This inhibited movement towards genuine federalism and democracy and enhanced the necessity for prerogative power to be exercised by those factions which were, in fact rather than constitutionally, running the country. Although Medvedev has recognised the obstacles that such policies place in the modernisation path, he seems incapable of shifting his country away from the course Putin has set. (more…)

Chechnya: Monster in the Mountains – I


Chechnya has returned to haunt Russia. Forty deaths by suicide bombs on the Moscow subway confirm that outsourcing rule in the restive republic is a failed policy. But no other plan is in sight; these are not likely to be the last innocent lives lost.
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by John Russell

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The ease with which terrorists detonated their bombs in the heart of the Russian capital – under the very headquarters of the Federal Security Service at the Lubyanka station and near the world famous Gorky Park – raised serious questions, not just about the ability of Russian security forces to defend citizens, but more fundamentally over the entire Russian policy towards the North Caucasus, begun under Vladimir Putin and carried on by his successor as Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev.

Insofar as Putin’s reputation and popularity were built on his aggressive Chechen policy, the latest spike in attacks from the North Caucasus calls into question his frequent assertions that the ‘war’ against terror in Russia’s southern republics has been won.

For Medvedev, who has been much more proactive in addressing the root problems of the region: corruption, unemployment, low levels of development, a question mark hangs over the future of his hand-picked plenipotentiary to the North Caucasus – Aleksandr Khloponin – who was appointed, one assumes, to tackle these issues. (more…)

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