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
Several killed in clashes between police and armed assailants during month: man killed after opening fire on police officers during traffic check in Dagestan 7 May; attack on traffic police post in Ingushetia’s Malgobek 12 May left one officer wounded, two gunmen killed, one identified as member of armed gang; unidentified shooter opened fire 21 May on two relatives of gunman from 12 May attack, both hospitalised with injuries. In Dagestan, routine vehicle inspection by police turned into shootout 14 May; suspected militant killed, later identified as member of “Makhachkala” insurgency group. Drive-by assassination attempt in Ingushetia 29 April reportedly targeted employee of Ministry of Emergency Services, who was injured, and brother of suspected shooter from 8 April attack on traffic police. Counter-terrorism operation in Dagestan’s Buynaksk region 18 May led to exchange of fire between militants and officers; four suspected militants killed including leader of “Kadar” insurgency group; weapons, ammunition and explosives found on premises. Suspected militant detained in Dagestan 10 May for helping to found militant group, part of Islamic State (ISIS)-affiliated Vilayat Kavkaz. Also in Dagestan, two suspected militants were taken into custody 11 May, suspected of training others in use of arms and explosives. Human Rights Watch 26 May issued report detailing “anti-gay purge” by Chechen police Feb-April 2017, which it said was ordered and conducted by Chechen officials. European Parliament 18 May called for “credible investigation”; UNSG Guterres called for end to abuse and release of suspected gay men. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov early May said he would cooperate with Kremlin investigation.
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.
[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
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
Originally published in World Politics Review
Originally published in Novaya Gazeta