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Radicalization Splitting Society In Russia's North Caucasus

Volatile Daghestan Fears Growing Discontenti
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November 09, 2011
Radicalization is splitting society in Russia's North Caucasus region of Daghestan where violence and instability is spreading. RFE/RL correspondent Gregory Feifer traveled to the mountains of Daghestan with cameraman Yuri Timofeev and reports that traditional society there is tearing at the seams.

WATCH: In the mountains of Daghestan, traditional society is tearing at the seams. (video by author and cameraman Yuri Timofeev)

By Gregory Feifer
GIMRY, Russia -- The tin roofs of Gimry glint in the bright midday sun high amid the jagged peaks of Daghestan's Caucasus Mountains. Located on Russia's southern fringe, this isolated village of houses built on top of each other along a thin strip of land is accessible by a single narrow dirt road, mostly washed away by rain. It's so remote, children speak only the local Avar language and residents talk of "Russia" as if they're in another country.

Village elders sit on benches under houses' wooden balconies in the subtropical fall warmth. Their talk turns to how soldiers recently sealed off Gimry during a so-called counterterrorism operation that lasted almost two years. An elderly man with a white beard named Nabi Magomedov breaks down as he describes how it began. He says militants lured his son -- a prominent member of Daghestan's parliament -- out of his house by saying they wanted to talk.

"They promised they wouldn't shoot," he tells me, "but when he came out, they shot him 62 times."

Chechen rebel leader Doku Umarov took credit for ordering the killing. In a grainy video posted on the Internet, he accused the younger Magomedov of betraying Islam by cooperating with the authorities against the separatists fighting to establish Islamic Shari'a law across the Caucasus.

Fear And Loathing: Russian Attitudes Help Fuel Instability In The North Caucasus

But if the ensuing counterterrorism operation in Gimry was meant to combat such extremism by identifying militants among the locals, it did the opposite. Residents say that in addition to daily house-to-house searches, thousands of troops bristling with weapons cut down farmers' trees, killed livestock, and stole whatever they could from the very poor people who live here.

Magomedov says they also shot villagers in what he calls a reign of terror. "So many people were killed, and no one punished for it," he says. "The authorities don’t enforce the law, that's why people dislike them."

Outside the violent North Caucasus, there may be a growing perception that a certain, even managed, level of instability suits one or more groups among the authorities in Moscow. But as Prime Minister Vladimir Putin prepares to return to the presidency next year, developments in Daghestan and elsewhere show the situation in the Caucasus is anything but stable, and that traditional society is tearing at the seams.

Islam As Protest

Some villagers in Gimry say they're protesting by refusing to observe Russian law. They say they live under Shari'a law instead, or at least their understanding of it, which includes blood feuds and other forms of centuries-old traditional law. Many have become Salafists, conservative Muslims who denounce the Sufi Islam traditionally practiced in the Caucasus for being under state control.

On a small plateau above the village, workers are busy building a new madrasah, an Islamic religious school some hope will take over from the local state school. Such opposition to rule from Moscow is an old trope in Gimry. It was the birthplace of the Imam Shamil, a legendary leader of resistance to the tsarist empire in the 19th century.

What worries the Kremlin most today is that young men from Gimry and other villages are leaving home to join militant groups behind bombings and shootings that take place almost daily across Daghestan. Locals call it "going into the forest," and say the mounting tensions are building toward a serious confrontation with the authorities some say they'd welcome.

The general radicalization is exacerbating new divisions in a region whose many ethnic groups previously coexisted more-or-less peacefully. When a budding relationship between a young man of Gimry and a woman in the neighboring Sufi village of Insukul resulted in a shootout that killed seven people in September, the conflict was soon seen as religious in nature. After the incident, witnesses refused to give evidence to prosecutors. "You can't observe two different laws, ours and the state's," one elderly man told me. Local police never venture here, so residents police themselves and have set up a checkpoint on the road leading to Gimry as men in both villages are preparing for revenge.

In the valley below Gimry, men attending midday prayers in a ramshackle brick Salafist mosque go through the elaborate ritual of washing their feet before entering. Some sport beards and military fatigues. Among them, Abu Magomedov says adopting Salafism is the only way to protest the unfairness of daily life. "Those who go into the forest want to get closer to God," he says, "because Shari'a represents everything good in the world. Because most people live in denigration and filth and our politicians deceive us."

Rasul Magomedov, father of a 28-year-old schoolteacher named Mariam Sharipova, who last year became one of the two suicide bombers who attacked the Moscow subway.
Rasul Magomedov, father of a 28-year-old schoolteacher named Mariam Sharipova, who last year became one of the two suicide bombers who attacked the Moscow subway.

Magomedov is unusual for being a former Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) officer who fought in Chechnya. He says he was ordered to kill Muslim boys there "to control their numbers." Now he says acts like the assassination of Daghestan's interior minister two years ago are justified as justice and retribution.

Violence In Makhachkala

Many of the attacks take place 200 kilometers east of Gimry in the regional capital, Makhachkala. Located on the shores of the Caspian Sea, it's a chaotic city with new expensive apartment buildings standing amid the mostly old Soviet ones. On a busy downtown street last month, workers were sweeping up broken glass and metal from building facades shattered during one of the latest attacks, the bombing of a liquor store that killed a police officer and wounded 60 other people two days earlier. Passersby barely gave it their attention.

In a hospital a short walk away, victims from the blast lie bandaged on cots in a hot, crowded room. Among them, Magomed Getinov tells me he was leaving a friend's apartment when the bomb went off, sending shrapnel into his side. He calls those who carried out the bombings "monsters," and blames the region's massive unemployment for prompting many young men with little to do to turn to violence. "They're confused," he says. "They lose their morals, start turning into religious extremists and blow up innocent people because they believe they're going to take over the world."

Magomed Getinov, a victim of a bomb blast at Makhachkala hospital.
Magomed Getinov, a victim of a bomb blast at Makhachkala hospital.

Another short walk away near the mayor's office, a large billboard picturing Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin includes a quote saying he loves Daghestanis because they defend their homeland. But such displays of authority do little to assure residents here. At the bomb site, Makhachkala resident Baniyed Magomedova tells me regular attacks make residents afraid to go outside. "You walk along and don’t know where the next bomb will go off," she says. "It's very frightening."

She says the violence is getting worse. "Someone must be using religion as a cover because Islam doesn't call for killing innocent people."

Corruption, Bread, And Circus

Despite its poverty, Makhachkala's society is cosmopolitan and open for the North Caucasus. Centuries of loose adherence to Islamic customs, not to mention the suppression of religion under the Soviet Union, means older generations are less devout. At a dinner with the gregarious head of the official journalists' union, Ali Kamalov, he raised his first shot of vodka to Allah, although the atmosphere is changing even in the capital. A young relative also there refused to touch a drop. Kamalov tells me that like many public figures, he has been the target of several assassination attempts. "You survive by being very careful, by knowing the lay of the land," he says of the clan-based power structure. "Everyone knows everyone, how they came to power and who stands behind them."

But local affairs are overshadowed by the Kremlin. Kamalov describes speaking to an army general who confessed preferring instability in the region. "Back in Moscow, such people are nobodies," Kamalov says. "Here they like conflict because it enables them to behave like heroes."

Like many in the Caucasus, Kamalov says pervasive corruption choking the economy lies at the root of the problem. Most believe huge funds for developing agriculture, infrastructure, and social services are being pilfered by officials in Moscow and Makhachkala. Some of the money is spent on luxury cars and an expanding ring of suburban brick houses going up outside the capital. Much is also going into the local soccer club.

In January, Daghestani billionaire Suleiman Kerimov bought previously unknown FC Anzhi Makhachkala. Among his trophy purchases since was star Cameroonian player Samuel Eto'o, formerly of Inter-Milan, whose reported salary of $30 million per season makes him the highest-paid footballer ever. He lives and practices in Moscow and flies down for matches.

At an evening match against the Chechen team Terek Grozny, crowds stream into an old Soviet stadium amid huge security, with scores of troops carrying automatic rifles. Supporters chant Eto'o's name during the match, rising to a crescendo when he scores to equalize the game at 1-1. Whether or not Kerimov was coerced by the Kremlin, the surreal spectacle he provides is clearly aimed at channeling people's energies. But it's done little to create any real sense of normalcy.

All Those Soldiers

Across town in an outlying, concrete-block neighborhood, Svetlana Isayeva runs the group Mothers of Daghestan for Human Rights from a tiny ground-floor office. She started the organization after her 25-year-old son disappeared from the street outside her home three years ago. A stoic, dark-haired woman, Isayeva says many young men like him are detained by security forces, especially those who attend mosques and show other signs of religious piousness. She says they're forced to confess to terrorism and often killed. "Lately it's become common among law enforcers to burn people alive in their cars," she says. "Then they're accused of blowing themselves up by accident."

Svetlana Isayeva, head of the group Mothers of Daghestan for Human Rights, in Makhachkala.
Svetlana Isayeva, head of the group Mothers of Daghestan for Human Rights, in Makhachkala.

Isayeva says the buildings in which suspects are killed are sometimes burned down, leaving families and neighbors with no compensation and nowhere to live and prompting more young men to turn to radical Islam. Isayeva's own office was recently set on fire, but, she explains, her urge to act is stronger than the fear that keeps many other victims' relatives silent.

She says abductions began taking place regularly after troops were moved here from neighboring Chechnya in 2007, after the war there wound down. "All that equipment, all those soldiers. What was the military supposed to do?" she says. "They need conflict to continue surviving, that's the only way I can explain it."

'Everything We Do Is For The People'

If tensions in Daghestan are mounting faster than anywhere else in the Caucasus, Ingushetia -- a half-day's drive across Chechnya to the west -- has seen a decrease in violence in the three years since the Kremlin appointed President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, after spiraling corruption and dysfunction under his predecessor prompted mass protests.

Yevkurov's seat is in the new capital, Magas, built to replace the main town Nazran, an overgrown village that had carried out the role after Ingushetia split from separatist Chechnya in the 1990s. Located seemingly in the middle of nowhere, buildings in Magas are laid out in broad, Soviet-era fashion, with wide promenades surrounded by elite apartment buildings that are mostly empty because only the richest can afford them. Islamic codes are followed much more closely in Ingushetia. Young female university students in head-to-toe dresses and head scarves gossiping on benches stand when men walk by as a sign of respect.

WATCH: In Ingushetia, even the region's popular leader has been unable to tackle the root causes of violence there (video by author and cameraman Yuri Timofeev):
Russian Security Forces Undermine Stability in Ingushetiai
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November 03, 2011
People in Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia say security forces are undermining stability by violating basic human rights. RFE/RL correspondent Gregory Feifer traveled to Ingushetia with cameraman Yuri Timofeev and reports that even the region's popular leader has been unable to tackle the root causes of violence there.

The presidential compound, only several years old, already appears weathered. Inside his sprawling office, Yevkurov wears a crisp gray suit and black shirt. An imposing but soft-spoken former military officer, he took part in the Russian storming of Kosovo's Pristina airport in 1999. Now an unusual figure in this extraordinarily corrupt region, he is genuinely popular for prevailing on the security forces to reduce their counterterrorism operations, building schools, and talking to human rights activists and ordinary people. He tells me his main task is to make clear to officials that "everything we do is for the people."

"We're in power thanks to them," he says. "Without the people, there would be no bureaucrats." Yevkurov admits soldiers still carry out abuses. But he also blames parents. He says it's their responsibility to know what their children are doing, and that they shouldn't be surprised when their sons are targeted in security operations against known Islamist militants. "Every single time, they tell me, 'We didn't see anything!'" he says. "When I ask them, 'Did you know your children were meeting [militants] in the forest?' they say no, they didn't know."

'If He's Guilty, Let Them Punish Him'

Yevkurov's accusation angers parents like Masha Posheva, who says she chided him during a recent meeting to appeal for help finding her son Ruslan. A gentle woman in her fifties, Posheva last saw him in May, when he dropped her off for work in Nazran. Masked gunmen in uniform stopped his car on the main road soon after. Witnesses later told Posheva they forced him into a minivan before his car was found abandoned.

"I just can't come up with a reason," she says. "He was very well behaved from childhood, he never lied or stole. The only thing people may not have liked was his piousness. He was a very devout boy." Posheva praises her son, a court bailiff, as a hard worker who loves his two young children. "I know what he was doing," she says. "He didn’t have time to be involved with militants." Still, she admits he may have done something illegal. "But there are laws in this country," she says. "If he's guilty, let them punish him, but tell me whether my child is still alive. That's all I ask."

The only avenue for many victims and their relatives like Posheva is to register abuses at Memorial, the leading human rights group, which supports a small local office in Nazran. Memorial's Abubakar Sechayev says many like Ruslan Poshev disappear because the slightest suspicion of knowing a militant is enough to get them arrested or worse. "A person can be suspected today and easily killed tomorrow and his house burned down," Sechayev says. "If the security services had any real proof, they'd go through the courts."

WATCH: Ingushetia President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov talks about militants and public trust (video by author and cameraman Yuri Timofeev):
RFE/RL Interview with Ingush Leader Yevkurovi
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November 03, 2011
Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, president of Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia, speaks to RFE/RL's Gregory Feifer. The popular leader denies accusations he has little control over security forces in his region.

Yevkurov maintains that he approves every counterterrorist operation. But Sechayev says that despite the decrease in searches and arrests, they're still conducted with the same violence and insensitivity as before. Sechayev's Memorial colleague Ahmet Barahoev says the real problem is Yevkurov's powerlessness. "He and others in the administration can't influence the situation in the Caucasus today," he says, "because much of what's going on is dictated by security structures that aren’t subordinate to him or any one else inside the region."

Getting Used To Death

Nazran's dusty center is little more than a chaotic crossroads near a market and a bus station. The atmosphere on the streets is undeniably tense. Years of regular shootings and explosions by Islamist militants have made the town a place where few restaurants stay open long after dark and it's difficult to find alcohol served anywhere.

Young people drink tea inside a popular café near the market, one of the few such places you see many women. Marina, a sharp young medical student who declines to give her last name, says she doesn't go out after dark but that people have to get on with their lives despite the danger. "The first time a friend is killed, you grieve for maybe a year or more," she says. "But after 20 times, you get used to death. We hear explosions one day and forget about them the next."

The following day, I drive 50 kilometers west of Nazran to Malgobek. Set on flat plains in the shadow of Caucasus Mountains foothills, the town is relatively prosperous and well-kept. Still, security forces have swooped in the previous day to arrest six young men they say had come down from the mountains to plan militant attacks. Yevkurov later praises the counterterrorism operation for causing no injuries or damage. But a woman in a nearby village who refuses to give her name tells me that around 100 masked, uniformed men who arrived on armored personnel carriers broke into her house that day.

"They didn't explain anything, just threatened and insulted us, saying we were hiding a criminal," she says. "Of course we were very scared." When her elderly mother told the soldiers she would file a complaint, one of them replied, "Shut up old woman, we do what we want here!"

The town of Malgobek, 50 kilometers west of Nazran
The town of Malgobek, 50 kilometers west of Nazran

In the center of Malgobek, I speak to a grizzled pensioner named Kureish Igiyev amid colorful flowering bushes in the courtyard of his house. He tells me he supports the campaign against militants but wonders why soldiers recently arrived to arrest the meek janitor of a nearby residential building on personnel carriers. "They could have led him out by the ear but instead proceeded to shell the building," he says.

Pipe Dreams

Back in Nazran, a French teacher at the local university named Zarema Deligova sums up her complaints with the common refrain that violence on both sides is only part of the problem. "If corruption is the main woe elsewhere in Russia, here it's corruption and the military," she says. "I don't know which is worse."

Despite President Yevkurov's efforts, residents say official corruption continues to choke the economy, fueling a staggering unemployment rate of 57 percent, Russia's highest. In Nazran's maze-like outdoor market, a fruit vendor named Zaira, who won't give her last name, tells me customers are buying less than before. "And officials gouge more money out of us every day," she says. "We're forced to pay rising taxes and pension fund payments we don't need at all."

Yevkurov is pinning big hopes on the development of mountain resorts he says could employ up to 70 percent of the population. Asked whether he really believes foreign tourists would travel to Ingushetia to ski, he tells me he recently expanded a heavily guarded border zone to provide the area with adequate security. But critics say the month it now takes officials to approve applications to visit the zone symbolizes the futility of any hope that Yevkurov's efforts will really change anything in Ingushetia.

Here, as elsewhere in the Caucasus, the future seems bleak. "I'm frightened Putin is coming back," the rights activist Svetlana Isayeva tells me in Makhachkala, echoing the views of many who fear the social fabric will only deteriorate further. "It all started under him."
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Comments
     
by: Jack from: US
November 04, 2011 19:30
listen to RFERL and one would think Muslim terrorists are the victims of authorities. RFERL propaganda is always portraying Muslims as peaceful civilians whom evil authorities force to become terrorists. The message is always the same: Muslims terrorists are good, Russian authorities are bad. Saudis and Pakistanies are US allies while Christian Serbs and Russians are US enemies.
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by: American from: USA
November 04, 2011 22:54
Ivan, you again.
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by: Matt from: NY/USA
November 05, 2011 02:23
"while Christian serbs and Russians are US enemies" Dude, 02-18-2008 US Embassy in Belgrade was attacked, burned and destroyed by serbs.(keep in mind Belgrade is capital of serbia,maybe you had no idea about that???) The attack on US Embassy was organised by the Primeminister of serbia,at that time Vojislav Kostunica.He would not let the serbian riot police protect the US embassy. And YES most of serbs hate USA. Hate keeps them alive. (brainwashed from s.miloseviq propaganda against the West/USA since 1985 up to this day)
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by: Mike
November 05, 2011 21:43
Most Russians "love" the USA. Their love goes to Alaska & California - the "Russian" territories and they want them back. Their love is to attack Christian Georgia the US ally. Their love is to support FARC which kills Americans in Colombia, their love is to support Cuba and Venezuela, and of course their love is to build nukes in Iran. Yes, Ivan is right, I meant to write Jack. Sorry, my mistake.
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by: Joe
November 06, 2011 18:41
Matt, you're a liar.

Kostunica didn't organize that demo.

Moreover, Serbs have been quite calm, given the kind of hypocritical aggression launched against them.

Serbs don't fly airplanes into buildings with the intent to kill people.
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by: Joe
November 06, 2011 18:43
Mike, patriotic Russians understandably don't like hypocrites and lairs, who trash their country with the kind of deceit you spout.
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by: Mamuka
November 05, 2011 05:40
Jack, did you have a good time at the Russkii Marsh?
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by: Andrew from: Auckland
November 05, 2011 06:57
"Jack" from the "US", dude, put your real name and location.

Given your poor English skills I suspect the resulting handle and location would be somewhat Slavic.

The peoples of the Caucasus, be they Christian, Moslem, or Jewish, have suffered appallingly at the hands of the Russians over the last two or three hundred years.

Your inability to understand basic facts is appalling.

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by: Joe
November 06, 2011 18:44
Mote lies from the usual.
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by: Andrew from: Auckland
November 07, 2011 05:00
Jeeze wayne "Joe", you really do not seem to bright do you?

All Caucasians (aside from the Armenians who are not actually Caucasians but indo-aryans) have suffered immense hardships, persecutions, massacres, rapes, looting and pillage at the hands of the Russians over the last 200 years.

If you deny this you are without doubt a fool.
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by: Joe
November 07, 2011 09:07
The biggest dope here is Andrew.

Most Abkhaz and Ossetians prefer Russia over Georgia.

An RFE/RL cited poll shows most Georgians preferring Russians over any other group.

The Dagestanis overwhelmingly reject separatism from Russia.

9/11 targetted the US.

So, who is really more hated?

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by: Sergey from: Chicago
November 07, 2011 10:33
Andrew, if you studied history a bit more, you would know that with all its faults, Russian Empire (prior to turning into Soviet Union) was a much better alternative for Christians of Caucasus. Otherwise, they (Georgians, Armenians, etc) would have entirely fallen to Islamic Ottoman Empire (aka Turkey), and you might have heard what happened to Christian Armenians in 1915-1922 at the hands of Ottoman Turkish rulers.

I am not saying that falling under Russian Empire was a good choice for Caucasus Christians, but in real life the choice is often not between good and bad, but between bad and horrible.

While I am not defending the brutalities committed by Russian Empire, USSR and post-Soviet Russia in North Caucasus, I would not be thrilled by N. Caucasus falling into the hands of Islamic "Holy Warriors" in the likes of Shamil Basayev, Doku Umarov either. If you follow carefully recent history, you should know that whenever Islamists are winning, the end result is a state of perpetual Jihad and cruel oppression. Whether its Hamas thugs taking over Gaza after Israel withdrawal or Al-Qaida/Taliban turning Afghanistan into their base after Soviet Army pulled out. Or post-Saddam Iraq whose Christian population is terrorized into leaving the country even at the height of the US military presence. What will happen to remaining Iraqi Christians after US withdrawal is no brainer--convert to Islam, flee or die.

So called "Arab Spring" is increasingly likely to end up as a Springtime for Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots in the MIddle East. Egypt's Christian Copts are already fleeing the post-Mubarak Egypt in large numbers. They know better what Islamic and Sharia Based Democracy will look like.

Extrapolating the situation further, it's easy to see what will happen if Jihadists will succeed in their goal of setting up Islamic Califate with Islamic Sharia law worldwide. So maybe It makes me a bad person in the eyes of liberals, but I want to see Jihadists defeated everywhere in the world, even if they claim to be "freedom fighters" fighting "national liberation struggle". I am not thrilled at having Jihadists taking over this or that territory, even if the regimes they are fighting are themselves unsavory.
In Response

by: Brotherhood
November 09, 2011 18:22
Sergai this is not Arab spring, these are Georgian summer, Ukrainian winter, and Chechen autumn )))))))))))))))))) territory, cheap energy, and freedom.
In Response

by: Will from: USA
November 05, 2011 14:42
God bless the Northern Caucasian resistance.
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by: Somebody from: media
November 11, 2011 21:54
You're right, the author didn't even try to ask also policemen about their actions... It is terrible, so many policemen are killed in Dagestan by militants, almost daily!

I swear, it is quite easy to talk to the police, especially in Daghestan, they are open...Once I took part together with human rights activists in negociations between a presumed militant (he killed a policeman) and the Daghestan's police.

by: Sey from: World
November 05, 2011 05:58
There's poverty, misery, unemployment, despair, oppression, and human rights abuses all over the world...but it seems to me only Muslims believe these are fair reasons to begin blowing themselves up and killing innocent people. Not all Muslims of course, the majority of them are people who only aspire for peace, just like all of us.

Also, the violence in the NC started with Yeltsin, not with Putin. Who was the idiot who decided it was a better idea to invade, bomb, and massacre Chechnya rather than to sit down with the rebel government and cut a deal...like he was forced to do afterwards?

Also, who were the imbeciles who decided it was a great idea to invade Dagestan and purposely gave a former-KGB-agent-turned-president a "valid reason" to start invading bombing, and massacring again?

The violence is the result of widespread stupidity...from both sides of the trench.




by: Ben
November 05, 2011 10:55
Slogan "Russia for Russians " is not overhelmingly adopted yet and some years ago Russian jurors often justified Coucassians accused. But today the cruel sentence to Cherkesov-football fan killer have devided the country: Russians are totally for and the Caucassians sometimes find boldness to be agains it.

by: Jack from: US
November 05, 2011 15:20
The nature takes its course: Muslims allies of US government killing thousands of Americans on 9/11, in Iraq, in Afghanistan. The lesson is being tought. Its up to US citizens to learn it. Sooner or later Muslim suicide bombings will be a daily occurence not just in Aghanistan or Daghestan or Iraq - US and Europe will take its turn. Who would be bankrolling US client regimes like rump "republic of Georgia" once US economy goes into the ditch with limitless corporate corruption and graft, with ever-growing US government which sucks out wealth and creativity from American population, like cancer
In Response

by: Mike
November 05, 2011 21:46
How many Americans Russians killed in the North Korea and Vietnam? How many nukes they built in Iran? How many Americans Russian-supported terrorists killed in Colombia?
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by: Joe
November 06, 2011 18:48
How many Americans did the Japanese and Germans kill Mike, you hypocritcal SOB of a bigot?

On the matter of killing and supporting terrorism, consider how the US government carried on in Afghanistan in the late 970s-1980s.

FYI, the Red Army and KGB involved a good number of non-Russians.

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by: Mike
November 06, 2011 21:18
FYI they were Russian slaves. So, I consider them Russians.
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by: Joe
November 07, 2011 14:04
Non-Russians who aren't anti-Russian are "slaves" unlike non-Russians who're anti-Russian?

That view is indicative to being a "slave" of faulty thinking.

by: Ray f from: Lawrence, ks
November 05, 2011 23:09
Great report. Hope that authors continue to explore this topic. Is it possible to interview Russians serving in the military, fsb?
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by: American from: USA
November 06, 2011 14:00
Yes, we will interview Mr.FSB-Putin himself. Like we care what baby-killers think.

by: Fact from: Grozny
November 06, 2011 11:10
After reviewing this material I want to say. In Chechnya, much worse. All that took Yuri Timofeev I have in the huge archives. Only here the situation is more complicated. Recently, Ramzan Kadyrov's security chief, has publicly for all to see began to insult a young guy. As a result, there was a fight during which the chief of security in public with two shots to the head killed the boy. And this is not the first time. Earlier, as we all already knew he had shot the car as a result of a quarrel with the driver, in the car sit a girl of nine years, she is died of head wounds. That's the harsh truth of Chechnya.
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by: American from: USA
November 06, 2011 13:58
That would never happened if you were fighting for freedom instead of sitting on your butts and writing useless reports to the West. You scarified many people to stop now. Russia will never change her stance toward you. Next genocide coming in another 30 years.
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by: Jack from: US
November 06, 2011 14:14
aren't Chechens killing Americans in Afganistan? Of course, US government wants that because most Amercians soldiers are Christian and US government kills Christians and sponsors Muslim terrorists
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by: Sey from: World
November 06, 2011 16:56
So you think joining a group of radical religious organizations who fight in the name of a God using particularly confusing and sometimes contradictory phrases from one 1400 year-old book to take advantage of the pain and suffering of psychologically-disturbed youngsters to indoctrinate them into blowing themselves up in a crowded market is fighting for freedom?

No, you know what's going to happen if Chechnya or any country falls to the hands of the Islamists? More poverty, misery, unemployment, despair, oppression, and human rights abuses, just that this time it comes from a government who's not controlled by Moscow or any alien political force.

I don't believe "freedom fighters" are just any group of religious radicals who fight for their own interpretation of GOD and NOT for their NATION. Where are the Chechens fighting for a free, democratic, and prosperous Chechenya? For an independent Chechnya and not some Islamic Emirate? Those ideals were killed with Dudayev.

A war for the Caucasus must be an Independence War, not a Holy War, not a Jihad. An independence war has the chance to succeed attaining freedom, a holy war will only lead you to fruitless bloodshed.
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by: Spook
November 06, 2011 17:36
"Jack" Vladimirovich Putin, if Chechens were fighting in Afghanistan the casualties would be much, much, much higher. These guys know what they are doing. Their population is only 1 million yet we "see" them in every major conflict. Plus, they have more important things to do like kicking Russia's a$$. Why would they go to Afghanistan anyway? Georgia, Turkey, Iraq, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia are much closer to them, these countries have strong US presence, and the Chechens have huge network there.
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by: Joe
November 06, 2011 18:49
Only the so-called "Independence war" isn't particularly desired.
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by: Checheno-Ingushetia
November 07, 2011 01:23
You are right American.
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by: Fact from: Grozny
November 07, 2011 08:15
During the war in Chechnya, killing about 250,000 civilians. While the number of Chechens more than one million. If we had not stopped then we would simply be destroyed. And if you're in the U.S. are not sitting idly by, that all this could have been avoided. But for the moment all the works of the FSB. Arguing that foreign funding is made ​​on us money, and Kadyrov and Putin.
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by: Joe
November 07, 2011 09:10
"Fact" from "Grozny" tell a lie.
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by: Ingush
November 07, 2011 17:52
Fact from: Grozny and why USA should help us? Did we help USA to get its independence? No. They were fighting for freedom too. Many of the best people died in battles with England. Look now England and USA are good friends. Independence is important for North Caucasus if we want to live in peace with Russia.

by: Sergey from: Chicago,USA
November 06, 2011 18:14
If anyone thinks that fighting for establishment of Islamic Rule and Sharia Law in Russia's North Caucasus and elsewhere is the "fight for freedom", he or she need to have a head examined. Sharia Law, whose strict interpretation means execution for leaving Islam, treating women as a non-beings and the duty to wage endless Jihad against "infidels" (and "infidels" could be both Muslims and non-Muslims depending on an interpretation of a particular Islamic cleric or ruler), is probably the most oppressive religious and political system that in some aspects surpasses Communism and Nazism if implemented Fully (i.e. Taliban controlled Afghanistan).

There is a lot of just criticism of Russian government policies in N. Caucasus: fighting anti-Russian Islamic terror by legalizing law enforcement terror is indefensible. However, whitewashing Jihadists is no less repugnant--especially trying to justify suicide bombings simply because they are directed at Russia. Suicide bombers are brainwashed murderers and their actions harm usually absolutely innocent people. RFE/RL is simply discrediting itself when it tries to justify Islamic terror if it does not like the regimes the terror is directed against.
In Response

by: Mike
November 06, 2011 21:20
Stupid Russian we established Sharia Law in Libya. We will establish it in the North Caucasus as well.
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by: Sergey from: Chicago
November 07, 2011 07:54
"We established Sharia" means with your personal participation, Mike ?

If so, make sure you won't one day be on the receiving end of Sharia law, such as being stoned for minor infractions of Islamic law as interpreted by local Islamic despot or being "bad Muslim".

We'll see who is stupid then.
In Response

by: Joe
November 07, 2011 09:12
Sergey, the likes of "Mike" and "Andrew" have semi-official fans in RFE/RL.

Suspect that MIke's last outburst might be too much for even RFE/RL.
In Response

by: Van da Man from: Tejas, USA
November 09, 2011 09:40
To Sergey up in Chi town... ur first post was spot on. My dad lives in the city of the big shoulders. When I visit him I think it would be cool to have a talk over a beer with you. Now to the point. As long as men are willing to draw a line in the sand with followers of different relgions on the other side and murder them for that simple fact... there will be no peace in this world. Ever. Religious dogma was established to regien peace in it's locality. to have true peace we must take it upon ourselves to be as tolernent of all relegions as we are of our own. Until till then we are simply animals fighting each other.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
November 06, 2011 22:55
RFE/RL cannot discredit itself more than it already did. Everyone knows RFERL is CIA-operated mouthpiece of US government which justifies not just Muslim terrorism, but also deliberate killing of Christians in Kosovo, organ trafficing by Albanian "freedom fighters". RFE/RL even justified attacks on Danish newspaper which published Mohamed cartoons.
In Response

by: Brotherhood
November 09, 2011 18:23
Yes Jack and pigs can fly.
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by: Basci from: New Jersey
November 26, 2011 15:32
Sergey, obviously the establishment of a caliphate and Sharia law over the North Caucasus is a venture (in the words of Marshall Hodgeson), by Muslims for Muslims. Though, you overgeneralize when you speak of the inequalities and injustices such laws and types of political units would cause throughout societies. Have you no knowledge of the past Islamic societies that have seen the coexistence between the three major faiths (e.g., demonstrated by the Geniza documents; the peace made between Saladin and the Crusaders...etc). This just goes to show you that what is written by Muslim clerics is not always what goes on on the local level (de facto) of a society. Therefore, your explanation of what Sharia law means for societies is very narrow and completely problematized. You're beginning to sound a lot like those damn Orientalists who strictly studied the texts of the Asian societies, rather than the actual societies at hand. Very narrow minded of you, seriously.

And, let us speak of the implementation of Sharia law within the modern context as well, using your example (Afghanistan). If you carefully study the history of Islamic societies and their reaction to when "foreigners" begin to invade (i.e., the British and the Russian Empires, and now the USA), you would notice that the society begins to orient themselves towards an inward preoccupation. Basically, the foreign presence is perceived as a threat upon the cultural underpinnings of that society (i.e., laws and customs are reevaluated in order to cope with changes stemming from external stimuli). This was the same case with the Ottoman Empire, which was a cosmopolitan society even before the Europeans began to penetrate and nibble at its peripheries in the Modern era. Therefore, your interpretation of the oppressiveness that Islamic political and law systems poses to societies is hardly plausible, filled with many anachronisms and generalizations. I won't ignore that Sharia law is destroying the very fabrics of the society that created it today, though, the impetus of the deterioration of such systems of politics and laws is the direct cause of European imperialism and colonialism; which/who forcefully implemented and initiated alien modernization processes, therefore, causing the fabrics of those societies to rip at the seams that held it together.

I won't fight you on the negativity of Russian policies in the North Caucasus, because there seems to be a lot of debate between experts and scholars alike. Personally, the North Caucasus mujahideen are no better than the ones they point their fingers at, blood shed in general is wrong. That, I confidently can say, is one over-generalization that I believe in. Also, I agree with you about the brainwashing, but you should also understand that it is quite easy for these young men and women to be deceived. They are poor, unappreciated by their political representatives, uneducated for the most part, highly tribal in terms of kinship, traditional, neglected for the most part, and jobless. Where else can they go for salvation? Obviously to Allah and Islam, because they don't expect anything of them, except to die for their cause when the time comes...
In Response

by: Deportee
November 28, 2011 05:01
I don't agree with you. Blood shed is good for a good cause. You see they deported me with other Chechens and Ingushes to Kazakhstan in 1944 on false accusation of being a Nazi. Too bad I was not a Nazi. If my nation and I were Nazis we would be put into prison for a right cause. Now we are correcting the mistake.

by: wanderer3764 from: USA
November 08, 2011 19:23
Hilarious article! The author tries his level best to portray violence spinning out of control in Dagestan, when American-run Helmand Province has as much violence in a summer week as the whole North Caucasus has in a year.

RFE/RL truly are a pack of hack propagandists.
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by: Brotherhood
November 09, 2011 18:25
God, where did you learn English? You are not from the USA.
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by: Margaret from: Sweden
November 10, 2011 13:26
This article is packed with lies. The situation is not as bleak as it claims. It wants this region to look bad. But why?
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by: DJ from: USA
November 12, 2011 00:22
Dear Margaret: there is a significant difference between the claims of the article, and your claims. The article provides arguments in support of its claims, refers to people and actually has interviews with them. It is also rather clear on what it wants to say and it answers an "why?" question. When you say it "is packed with lies" you have no evidence, either logical or empirical, to back it. In your statement that "the situation is not as bleak" you again do not offer any explanation as what guides your opinion - based on what logic and principles the situation is not bad? Comparing to Stockholm or to Karachi, Mogadishu and Ciudad Juarez? You comment is analytically useless and uninformative, as it does not provide even a bit of hint that the article story may be inaccurate or plainly wrong. In fact, you inspire the idea that you may have an agenda to falsely portray the situation in Russia's North Caucasus as being more benign than it is.
In Response

by: michael
November 29, 2011 15:06
I speak all languages including English

Regards

God

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