Caucasian rebellion: a growing threat to the Russian Federation (The Washington Post, USA)

Caucasian insurgency: the growing threat to Russia ("The Washington Post", USA)Policeman which braked at a traffic light in the capital of Dagestan, was shot in the adjoining car. The driver blew himself up on a check-Fri The mayor survived 15 assassination attempts.

Attacks on government officials actually occur every day in Dagestan, the largest and most troubled in the Russian North Caucasus region with a predominantly Muslim population, have become a breeding ground for the spread of terrorism throughout the country, including Moscow.

The separatist movement that began more than 15 years ago as the struggle for the independence of Chechnya, mutated in a power struggle for the establishment of an Islamic country in the region stretching some 650 km (400 miles) from east to west — from the oil wealth of the Caspian Sea to Sochi, the site of the Winter Olympics 2014. It is unlikely that this will happen, but it is clear that the Caucasus will continue to be a festering wound of post-communist Russia.

Familiar picture: poverty, 50 percent unemployment rate, the government mired in corruption and abuse — it pushes into the ranks of disaffected Islamic militants and ruthless police executions, of which the innocent suffer, join the ranks of the separatists recruits.

"There is a huge gap between the authorities and society in Dagestan — says in an interview with Alexei Malashenko, a Caucasus expert at the Moscow branch of the Carnegie Endowment. — People feel more and more pissed off, and the increased popularity of the Islamists. "

The North Caucasus contains six semi-autonomous republics, and Islamist insurgents can easily move from one to the other.

A little long war against Chechen rebels in Moscow ended in a fragile world, a place for fighting skirmishes began Ingushetia. Government subsidies and improve the properties of the control reduced the tension in Ingushetia, and now the situation has worsened in Dagestan.

But the Kremlin seems to be no universal strategy against the rising insurgency. His response is largely confined to a permutation of officers in charge of the region, but does not provide the promised reforms.

Now, after many years of assurances that the Caucasian militants brought under control, Russian authorities beating anxiety. In January, after a suicide bomber killed 36 people in the largest metropolitan airport, President Dmitry Medvedev referred to terrorism the main threat to the Russian Federation and acknowledged that the 2010 attacks have increased.

After that blast Our homeland has announced the creation of excellent plans ski resorts in the mountainous areas stunning beauty that will ensure the creation of jobs. On a month later militants responded to the murder of 3 Russian skiers and ski lift brain explosion. Police said that as a large bomb was defused in the car next to the boarding house.

The attacks occurred in another country, a tiny Kabardino-Balkaria, where attacks on government officials have grown more than seven times — in 2010 they happened about four times a week, according to official data killing 42 policemen.

Total according to official figures over the past year in the North Caucasus have been killed about 300 law enforcement officers and about 650 wounded.

Caucasus rebels have claimed responsibility for the blast at the airport and a double suicide bombings in the past year in the capital's subway, killing 40 people. Doku Umarov, a Chechen, who heads the rebels and calls himself the Emir of the Caucasus, vowed that 2011 year will be for the Russian Federation "year of blood and tears."

Russian authorities have stated more than once that the rebels were tightly intertwined with "Al Qaeda" and funded by sympathizers from the Arabian Peninsula.

Do not rebel enough strength to reach the office of the Russian Federation, and the Moscow unable to suppress them, so deadlock in the region can be long and painful. The militants operate in small, self-contained units that are hard to track down the government, says Gennady Gudkov, a veteran counterintelligence, and now the deputy Russian parliament.

Even 10 years ago, Dagestani fought on par with Russian federal forces to repel rebels who invaded from adjacent Chechnya. Chechnya has since gained tremendous stability under tight control of the Kremlin-backed ruler, and Dagestan has become the main base for militants.

"In the Caucasus Our homeland almost turned into failure of the government — a political analyst Yulia Latynina. — In 1999, Islamists in Dagestan were marginals who suffered a defeat, but now they have become a strong force. "

Sociologist Ruslan Gereev, tracking the youth community in Dagestan, says that Islamic rebels in the region are gaining popularity among teenagers, who "see in their own idols."

Russian special forces officer, who asked him to name just because of the specificity of Nicholas's own work, is that new recruits are trained for several months, and then there are autonomous groups of 10. According to him, the number of militants in Dagestan has about 500 people, many of them in their teens.

Recruiters seem to have large sums to verbovaniya recruits from among the unemployed and the poor. As the Nicholas, a group of 12 militants who recently killed his unit had more than 1 million dollars in cash. If the rebels urgently need money, they otymayut funds from local businesses, he said.

However, a local human rights activist Isalmagomed Nabiev believes that the Dagestani may fear the Islamists less than the police, which "have all the power, but they act like bandits."

Although Chechnya has pioneered the rebellion, but for now here is probably the most difficult place for actions of Islamic militants. Kremlin-backed regional favorite Ramzan Kadyrov, the last rebel himself, has attracted many former fighters in their own paramilitary forces, which rights activists blamed the murder and torture of people suspected of having links with militants.

"Kadyrov is very tough and very successful in the fight against the Islamists," — says Latynina.

At the same time, Kadyrov seeks to undermine radicals with Islamic customs and superior construction of the mosque, touted as the largest in Europe. His commissioned projects have made new jobs and transformed the capital, Stern, from the ruins of war in the modern city.

Unlike Chechnya, where Kadyrov's word is law, Moscow's forces in Dagestan must manage a network of mobile alliances, with a population of 2.7 million man consists of 10-s ethnic groups.

Said Amirov, the mayor of Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan, represents a threat that pulls the highest position in the government. After the assassination attempt in 1993, he was confined to a wheelchair and has a private army of several hundred guards. In 1998, a car bomb set up for him, damaged many houses and killed 19 people, but he escaped unhurt.

Skirmishes between security forces and suspected militants can last a few hours in this town, which represent themselves random combination of inexpressive Russian apartment buildings and small private houses, nestled between the mountains and the Caspian Sea. Nicholas, an officer of Special Forces, says that only in Dagestan, he beheld, as the chief of police carry with bodyguards in an armored Mercedes limousine. "And the militants are not the only ones from whom he needs protection."

In Dagestan also have offenders who kill police officers for
their guns, and officials for their expensive cars, and who kidnap people for ransom, he said. Such groups are often used feuding clans as mercenaries.

In attacks on bars and stores selling alcohol are usually blamed Islamic militants, but it could also be the work of racketeers extorting funds.

The waitress at the bar "Louvre" remembers with a shudder, as in January after being attacked three armed men in masks very burned two guests. "They were firing pistols in the air, splashed gasoline on the curtains and fled," — told the waitress that of fear for his life asked to call themselves simply Patimat.

Regional management of Dagestan is considering an amnesty for militants who lay down their weapon — the measure CONTRIBUTE pacify Chechnya and Ingushetia, the former to the epicenter of the violence in the Caucasus.

Ingushetia previously ran the last KGB general which encouraged ruthless stripping that caused public outrage. The current manager, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov seeks an end to violence against civilians individuals he pardoned many former insurgents, and the number of attacks decreased significantly.

But the rebels have more camps in the wooded mountains, and the suspect in the bombing the airport — a native of Ingushetia.

Kings took half of the 19th century to conquer the Caucasus, and analysts do not think that today's insurgency can shake power RF over the region. In the turbulent years after the collapse of the Union of Russian, weakened by the Kremlin's coffers empty and fueled separatist sentiment, but now the militants are not very many to reach the office by force, and the political and business elites would not support it.

"The Caucasus will not depart from the Russian Federation, as local elites receive funds from the federal budget," — says Malashenko of the Carnegie Endowment.

Caucasus factor will play an important role in the politics of the Russian Federation as the elections in March 2012, when Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, can be expected to try to return to the presidency. The second war in Chechnya, Putin started running a few months before the March 2000 election, and his tough stance assist him defeat in the presidential election.

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