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Umarov Vows To 'Liberate' Krasnodar, Astrakhan, Volga Region

Dokka Umarov during a meeting of rebel leaders in 2003
Dokka Umarov during a meeting of rebel leaders in 2003, the website of the North Caucasus Islamic insurgency, posted on March 8 the transcript of an address in Russian, dated February 19, by the self-styled amir of the North Caucasus, Dokka Umarov.

Umarov rejects as untrue claims by various Russian and North Caucasus officials that he has been killed, and/or that the insurgency is rapidly losing strength.

On January 11, Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov told Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov his top priority in 2010 should be to capture or kill Umarov. Rumors that Umarov was among the fighters killed in the counterterror operation in Ingushetia's Sunzha Raion in early February proved false.

Umarov says in his address there is every reason to estimate the strength of the insurgency at 10,000, 20,000, or even 30,000 men. At the same time, he admits, as he did in an interview four years ago with RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, that he does not have the means to train and arm all volunteers who wish to join the jihad. The number of fighters currently under arms is, however, "perfectly adequate at this stage," he adds. Umarov further predicts that given further resources, he could immediately increase the number of fighters five or even 10 times.

Commenting on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's January decision to create a separate North Caucasus federal district, Umarov vows that his men will liberate not only Krasnodar Krai, which does not belong to that district, but also Astrakhan and the Volga region.

He described Krasnodar as the historic homeland of "our brothers the Adygs, Abazins, and Cherkess...the best Muslims on this planet."

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.


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