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.
Month saw another series of security operations in Chechnya, including large-scale operation against armed group allegedly affiliated with Islamic State (IS) in outskirts of Tsotsi-Yurt village, Kurchaloy district 10-12 Jan. Four suspected group members reported killed and one arrested during operation, two national guard members killed. Police arrested group’s alleged commander in Grozny 14 Jan; two other members arrested same day in Nalchik. At same time as 10-12 Jan Tsotsi-Yurt operation, law-enforcement officials detained dozens of people displaying visual symbols of adherence to Salafism in seven other villages nearby. Addressing local law-enforcement forces 14 Jan, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov called them “ideological fighters”, urged them to expel families of fighters from their villages. Gathering of residents in Tsotsi-Yurt 14 Jan decided not to expel family members of insurgents killed in recent security operation, but ruled collective punishment would be enforced in future. Kadyrov claimed security services had followed armed group, which had been planning attacks since summer 2016, said over 50 members arrested. Three Counter Terrorist Operations (CTOs) conducted in Dagestan, killing at least four suspected militants. Month also saw rise in attacks on security and police forces throughout N Caucasus: some two dozen suspected militants reported killed, mostly in Dagestan and some in Chechnya; seven law enforcement officials killed in Dagestan and Chechnya; one civilian killed in Kabardino-Balkaria. “Memorial” human rights centre confirmed extrajudicial killing on 20 Dec of Madina Shakhbieva, suspected of being part of group that carried out attacks on police in Grozny 17-18 Dec. Kadyrov 24 Jan confirmed Chechen men are among Russian forces fighting alongside regime against rebels in Syria.
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
Originally published in Новая Газета
Originally published in World Politics Review
Originally published in Novaya Gazeta
Originally published in New Eastern Europe