In this Q&A, Crisis Group tapped the views of its Project Director and Analyst in Turkey, Nigar Göksel and Berkay Mandıracı, as well as its Russia and the North Caucasus Project Director, Ekaterina Sokirianskaia.
Originally published in The Guardian
Seven people reported killed and at least six wounded in conflict-related clashes between police and militants in northern Caucasus during month. In Chechnya, two soldiers wounded by grenade during raid on militant hideout in Achkhoi-Martan district 1 Nov; two militants reported killed after attacking police checkpoint in Urus-Martan district 19 Nov. Security forces 13 Nov introduced counter-terrorism measures in Achkhoi-Martan district and were ordered to detain all men who left home after 11pm. Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov 13 Nov stated that 41 women and children, including 34 Russian citizens, had been brought from Syria to Grozny; relatives of returning Chechen women claimed they had been permitted to return only after consenting to criminal prosecution. Kadyrov 26 Nov said time had come for him to step aside, however did not officially resign; Kremlin did not comment. Attack on police post left two militants and two policemen killed in Nazran district, Ingushetia 5 Nov. In Dagestan, authorities in Magaramkent district 23 Nov reported two men killed, including member of local district assembly during shootout. Assailant 26 Nov stabbed policeman in Kizilyurt district before being shot by another policeman. Security forces 3 Nov detained several residents of Rutul village, charging them with arson in administration building; relatives of detainees claimed drugs and ammunition were planted on them during detention. After Friday prayer 3 Nov, 25 mosque-goers were brought to police station in capital Makhachkala; before their release, police reportedly recorded their personal data and put them on prevention registration list which allegedly includes potential “extremists”. One person killed and six wounded in shootout in Moscow 17 Nov; two Dagestani suspects arrested.
China and Russia’s separate visions for Central Asia could transform the region’s political and economic landscape as well as relations between the two Eurasian giants. To the smaller, embryonic Central Asian nation states, the new geopolitical realities could offer both economic prosperity as well as worsening instability and conflict.
Russia’s North Caucasus insurgency has gone relatively quiet, as Moscow crushed militants and many left to fight in Syria and Iraq. But longstanding grievances remain and the war may only have widened, as evidenced by the bombing of a Russian airliner in Egypt and the emergence of new groups swearing allegiance to the Islamic State in Russia itself.
For two decades, the North Caucasus conflict has been among Europe’s deadliest. Recently, victims were less, but risks associated with growing Islamic State (IS) influence in the insurgency are growing. To prevent a new rise in violence, Moscow must promote transparent governance as well as social and economic opportunities in its six North Caucasus republics.
A powerful propaganda machine promotes the “success story” of today’s Chechnya. But its peace is fragile; government repression is used to keep the people at bay while economic inequality, poor social infrastructure, lack of genuine reconciliation and almost full impunity for past abuses reflect the republic’s daily reality.
Stronger democratic institutions are crucial to easing violence in Russia’s North Caucasus, where Europe’s worst armed conflict claimed at least 1,225 victims in 2012 and 495 in the first six months of 2013.
Russia’s North Caucasus region is Europe’s deadliest conflict today, with some 574 deaths already this year, and the killing is unlikely to end soon.
[For the heads of state attending the Sochi summit], one of the principal [questions] is what form the Kurdish participation in Geneva will take. I do not see the Turks making progress on this point.
[Local barons in Russia's republics often] consolidate their positions in ministries, place their friends and relations in important posts and use various corrupt practices to siphon off resources.
[The Kremlin hopes] to promote Kadyrov as a brand, as someone who turned the war-torn republic into a peaceful and affluent place, who is loyal to the Putin regime and who promotes conservative values.
They have a reputation for being pretty fearless fighters, which is why they move quite quickly up the hierarchy
Originally published in Eurasianet
Originally published in The New York Review of Books
Women in the Russian republic of Chechnya have never been under such pressure as they are today. Yet not much has been written about their role, their place in society, and their rights in Chechnya and in other North Caucasus conflicts.
Originally published in Новая Газета