A 25-year-old Georgian national is to stand trial in Chechnya on charges of attempting to recruit two Chechens to fight for the Islamic State (IS) group in Syria, Russian media outlets report.
According to news reports, Beslan Cincalashvili is alleged to have resided legally in Chechnya from July through August 2014. During this time, he met with two Chechen nationals in Grozny and attempted to persuade them to travel to Syria to join militant groups.
Some news reports said that Cincalashvili was allegedly recruiting for Islamic State, while others referred only to "illegal armed groups."
The Chechen prosecutor-general said on December 4 that Cincalashvili had "numerous meetings in various places in the city of Grozny and persuaded two citizens [of Chechnya] to travel to Syria to join illegal armed groups and participate in the war against the legitimate government in order to overthrow it and establish a religious-extremist state."
According to the investigators, Cincalashvili promised the two Chechen men assistance with passports and in traveling to Syria via Georgia.
This is the first reported case of a Georgian national allegedly personally recruiting Chechen nationals in Chechnya to fight in Syria.
Very little information exists about recruitment networks for Chechens who travel to Syria from Chechnya. Not all of the ethnic Chechens fighting in Syria, including for Islamic State, came from Chechnya itself but are members of the Chechen diaspora in Europe and Turkey.
The reports of the case against Cincalashvili include only basic details and do not say whether the Georgian was allegedly part of a wider recruitment network or if he acted alone.
It is also not clear which group Cincalashvili was allegedly recruiting for. The Russian and Chechen authorities have often not made distinctions between the various armed rebel groups in Syria, because Moscow's official line on the Syrian insurgency is that all rebel factions -- including the moderate Western-backed Free Syrian Army -- are illegal terror groups.
Both Moscow and Grozny are also very sensitive about referring to the Caucasus Emirate, the North Caucasus-based militant Islamist group that seeks to overthrow the existing governments in the North Caucasus and install an Islamic state. If Cincalashvili had recruited for any of the pro-Caucasus Emirate groups fighting in Syria, notably the Chechen-led Jaish al-Muhajireen wal-Ansar, the Chechen prosecutor would not mention this.
No date has yet been set for Cincalashvili's trial, according to reports.
-- Joanna Paraszczuk