A View from the South: Reflections on Dagestan

Map of Russia Highlighting Dagestan

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – EDWARD C. HOLLAND – July 31, 2017) Edward C. Holland is Assistant Professor of Geography in the Department of Geosciences at the University of Arkansas. His research interests range across a variety of topics, including political violence, religion, and critical geopolitics, and are generally focused on the Russian Federation. He has recently published on these […]

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TRANSCRIPT: [Putin] Interview to Mir broadcasting company

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

(Kremlin.ru – April 12, 2017) Vladimir Putin gave an interview to Mir television and radio broadcasting company on the eve of his visit to Kyrgyzstan. The interview took place on April 11. President of Interstate Television and Radio Company Mir Radik Batyrshin: The Collective Security Treaty Organisation celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The benefits for Russia’s allies are clear. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “AS TRUMP FUMBLES, #PUTIN QUIETLY PREPARES TO INVADE HIS NEIGHBORS” – Newsweek/ Atlantic Council/ STEPHEN BLANK

File Photo of Russian Tanks in Military Parade

Recent #Russian actions suggest a new stage of the Russian threat to #Ukraine – and potentially to the #Caucasus, #Belarus or the #Baltic states as well-that could presage a new large-scale #military operation. … in 2016, Russia created 25 division formations and 15 brigades, while raising manpower by only 10,000 men. … Russia may aim to wage protracted large-scale war using the […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Repressing Islam in Russia. Salafis mustered. A crackdown drives Dagestan’s Muslims towards Islamic State.”

Map of Dagestan, Georgia and Environs

Since last autumn, the authorities in Dagestan have ramped up pressure against Salafis. They have reason to worry: as Moscow launched air strikes in support of Syria’s government, the Islamic State (IS) declared a holy war on Russia, took credit for downing a Russian passenger jet over Egypt and released a video threatening “a sea of blood” in Russia itself. […]

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Hooliganism case opened after attack on journalists and rights activists on Ingush-Chechen border

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

MOSCOW. March 10 (Interfax) – A criminal investigation has been opened after unknown persons attacked a minibus carrying human rights activists and journalists on the administrative border between Ingushetia and Chechnya, in Russia’s North Caucasus, last night, a spokesman for the region’s security services told Interfax. “A criminal case has been launched under Article 167 (deliberate destruction or damage of […]

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NEWSLINK Russia Direct/Ivan Tsvetkov: “Russian liberals warn Putin that Kadyrov could be dangerous. A recent report from the liberal opposition released on the anniversary of the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov raises some serious questions about the political influence and future intentions of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.”

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NEWSWATCH TASS: “Kremlin comments on Chechen leader’s plans to step down”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

Russian-controlled TASS reported on Kremlin statements about Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov’s announced plans to step down. The Kremlin will be guided by results of Ramzan Kadyrov’s work rather than his statements, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters …. ‘We should wait for the time [when Chechen leader’s term expires and the president’s decision],’ he said …. Kadyrov, 39, who […]

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Why did Kadyrov publish ‘revelatory’ report about himself?

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov has chosen to make public himself a report that accuses him of creating a quasi-Islamic state within Russia and not obeying Russian laws. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) The head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has chosen to publish a report called “A National Security Threat” […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Muslims in Russia See Putin’s Antiterrorism Efforts at Home as Backfiring. North Caucasus residents say crackdown often leads to new recruits for Islamic State.” – Wall Street Journal

Map of Area Spanning Portions of Iraq, Syria, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, highlighting military engagements against ISIL

The Wall Street Journal covers concerns that Russian government policies will fuel more terrorist recruits for the so-called Islamic State. President Vladimir Putin justifies his military action in Syria in part as a way to head off the terrorist threat at home, especially here in the mostly Muslim north Caucasus. But residents say the government’s often heavy-handed measures are instead […]

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Grozny Says No Chechen Agents Helping Russia in Syria

Syria Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – February 9, 2016) An unidentified source in the Chechen government has claimed that there are no members of law enforcement agencies among Chechnya’s fighters in Syria, the Interfax news agency reported Tuesday. The Chechens fighting in Syria consist of independent groups of young people who oppose the Islamic State, the source told the news agency. […]

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Russia’s Got Talent: Kadyrov’s Electoral Politics

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Kennan Institute – wilsoncenter.org/program/kennan-institute – Maxim Trudolyubov – February 3, 2016) Maxim Trudolyubov is a Senior Fellow at the Kennan Institute and the Editor-at-Large of Vedomosti, an independent Russian daily. Mr. Trudolyubov was the editorial page editor of Vedomosti between 2003 and 2015. He has been a contributing opinion writer for The International New York Times since the fall of […]

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NEWSLINK TASS: “Russia’s ex-PM asks FSB to launch criminal proceedings against Chechen leader”

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Chechen Leader Ramzan Kadyrov Losing Popularity Among Russians – Poll

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 27, 2016) Ramzan Kadyrov is losing support among ordinary Russians, a new poll published Thursday showed, amid increasing concern that his aggressive response toward those who question his authority might spill outside Chechnya’s borders. Asked by the independent Levada Center pollster what they thought of Kadyrov, 17 percent of respondents said they felt “respect” […]

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Can the North Caucasus adapt to political change?

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Amid a crumbling and fragile system, central and regional elites gear up for a new power struggle in Russia’s North Caucasus. (opendemocracy.net/RBC – Denis Sokolov – January 25, 2016) Denis Sokolov is Senior Research Fellow at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. If 2015 was the year of purges of regional elites for the North Caucasus, […]

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Dagestan: Living on the front line of Russia’s fight against terror

Map of Russia Highlighting Dagestan

For several years already, Russia’s southernmost republic Dagestan has been the epicenter of terrorist activity in the country, with state law-enforcement agencies and special services engaged in a continuous struggle to identify and neutralize terror cells. However, as RBTH reports, these anti-terrorist units do not always use the most humane methods, which inevitably complicates the lives of local residents. (Russia […]

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Interfax: Russians concerned about spread of terrorism from Caucasus to other regions – poll

Chechen Militants file photo

(Interfax – July 2, 2015) A total of 67% of Russian citizens are concerned about the spread of terrorism from the North Caucasus to other regions of the country and 32% say they are very disturbed by this issue, the Levada Center told Interfax following the poll held on June 19-22 among 1,600 respondents in 134 cities, towns and villages […]

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NEWSLINK The National Interest: ISIS on the Move: Russia’s Deadly Islamist Problem

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Killings of leaders of the ongoing insurgency in Russia’s North Caucasus no longer make front page news in either Moscow or foreign capitals, and the recent violent death of Emirate Caucasus’ emirAliskhab Kebekov is no exception. But regardless of whether such deadly news is buried in the inside pages or not, the North Caucasus insurgency, whose representatives not only regularly […]

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BOOK REVIEW: The lessons Russia learnt in Chechnya

Chechen Militants file photo

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – Nicholas Watson in Prague – April 22, 2015) “Russia’s Wars in Chechnya 1994-2009”. By Mark Galeotti, Osprey Publishing (2014). As Russia begins a new period of military adventurism, it’s an opportune time to review what happened when the country previously waged war in its backyard, so Mark Galeotti’s “Russia’s Wars in Chechnya 1994-2009” is […]

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Business New Europe: Putin plays peacemaker in South Caucasus

Map of Azerbaijan and South Caucasus Environs Including Portions of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Iran, Caspian Sea

(Business New Europe – bne.eu – August 11, 2014) While the world’s attention is focused on the fighting in Iraq and Ukraine, a threatened resurgence of the long frozen conflict over Nagorno-Karabakh looks to have been averted. Following several small-scale clashes around the separatist republic in recent weeks, the presidents of Armenia and Azerbaijan agreed at a meeting hosted by […]

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Russians More Confident in Stability in North Caucasus, Poll Shows

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – June 20, 2014) The number of Russians who believe the situation in the restive North Caucasus region is stable and under control has more than doubled in the past year, a poll released Thursday has shown. The survey, conducted by independent pollster Levada Center, showed 44 percent of respondents described the overall […]

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Kiselyov Defends TV Network After Caucasus Footage Labeled as Ukraine

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – May 20, 2014) The deputy chief of a pro-Kremlin television holding has dismissed as an “accidental error” his network’s use of footage from a gunfight in the North Caucasus to illustrate supposed recent anti-Russian violence in eastern Ukraine, a news report said. The footage – first used in a Rossiya television report […]

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Sochi, the Caucasus and Russian Romanticism

Map of Russia and Russian Flag adapted from images at state.gov

(opendemocracy.net – Benedict Coleridge – April 8, 2014) Benedict Coleridge is a graduate student in the Department of Politics and International Relations, the University of Oxford. Since the 19th century the Caucasus has been Russian’s ‘window on the East,’ its access to another, often very romanticised world. The Sochi Winter Olympics took place in the Caucasus, but they presented a […]

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From Estonia to Azerbaijan: American Strategy After Ukraine

File Photo of Vladimir Putin and Barack Obama Seated Before Russian and U.S. Flags

(Stratfor.com – Geopolitical Weekly – George Friedman – Tuesday, March 25, 2014 – 03:08) As I discussed last week, the fundamental problem that Ukraine poses for Russia, beyond a long-term geographical threat, is a crisis in internal legitimacy. Russian President Vladimir Putin has spent his time in power rebuilding the authority of the Russian state within Russia and the authority of […]

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Literature on the front lines: Russian writers in the Caucasus conflicts

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Phoebe Taplin, special to RBTH – February 11, 2014) The tradition of literature exploring conflict in the Caucasus began with the great stories by Lermontov and Tolstoy, and is carried on by today’s writers: RBTH presents 5 contemporary authors, each with military experience and individual views on duty, violence and the casualties of […]

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Separatist Games for U.K. and Russia

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Des Brown – February 10, 2014) The Economist’s Feb. 1 issue led with President Putin and the Winter Olympics as its cover story, saying that “the message of the Games is simple: Russia is back.” Western commentators never fail to mention that the Winter Olympics are a showcase for Putin’s modern Russia, while highlighting Sochi’s […]

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Sochi Spotlights Weakness as Caucasus Remains Restive

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – February 4, 2013 – Ilya Arkhipov and Stepan Kravchenko) The Sochi Olympics, designed to trumpet the strength of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, also shines a light on its weaknesses. As skiers, hockey players and figure skaters arrive this week at the games that cost about $50 billion, the North Caucasus region remains unruly more than 14 years […]

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Russia Dying Off in the Center

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 15, 2014) For the first time since the end of the USSR, there were more births than deaths among Russian citizens during the first 11 months of 2013. While the difference was small, 23,000, compard to the number of births 1.753 million and deaths 1.730 million, many commentators were celebrating what […]

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In the Shadow of Sochi: The North Caucasus in 2013

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 11 Issue: 2 – Paul Goble – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – January 7, 2014) Russian officials have repeatedly complained over the last 12 months that analysts in both Russia and the West will link, appropriately or not, everything that takes place in Russia before February 2014 with the Sochi Olympiad. There may be some justification […]

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Putin’s Caucasian Games

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(Bloomberg editorial – Bloomberg.com – January 3, 2014) Russian President Vladimir Putin clearly intends next month’s Winter Olympics in Sochi as a showcase for the country’s re-emergence as a global power. Given his recent diplomatic coups in Syria and Ukraine, maybe he thinks that he has plenty to show off. Yet this week’s twin suicide bombings in Volgograd, which killed […]

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Interfax: Terrorists cannot be called humans, deserve no mercy – head of Caucasus Muslim Board

Kremlin and St. Basil's

MOSCOW. Dec 31 (Interfax) – The head of the Muslim Board of the Caucasus, Allahshukur Pashazadeh, has extended his condolences following the deadly terrorist attacks in Russia’s southern city of Volgograd. “It is absolutely obvious that the terrorist attacks were meant to incite ethnic and religious hatred between people. Islam, as a religion of peace and creation, resolutely condemns the […]

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ANNOUNCEMENT: New White Papers [re: Terrorism, Caucasus, Sochi Olympics, Boston Marathon bombing]

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

Date: Fri, 15 Nov 2013 0 From: GORDON HAHN <gordon-hahn@sbcglobal.net> Subject: New white papers ANNOUNCEMENT The Geostrategic Forecasting Corporation has posted the first of its white papers: Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Comes to America: The Boston Marathon Bombing (Chicago, Ill.: GFC, October 2013 Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Threat to the Sochi Winter Olympics (Chicago, Ill.: GFC, […]

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Citizen Or Foreign Migrant? In Moscow, The Line Is Often Blurred

Aerial View of Moscow From Beyond Stadium, file photo

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – MOSCOW, October 30, 2013) The two men have a lot in common. Both are in their 20s and moved to Moscow in search of a better life. Both face discrimination with employment, encounter harassment from police, and have struggled to find places to live. Neither has many Russian friends. But there is one important difference […]

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On your marks, get set… intercept!

File Photo of Sochi Olympics Banner Near Highway in Warm Weather with Vehicle and Cyclicsts Nearby

(opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – October 29, 2013) Mark Galeotti is Professor of Global Affairs at New York University’s SCPS Center for Global Affairs. He blogs on Russian security affairs at In Moscow’s Shadows and tweets as @MarkGaleotti. His most recent book is Russian Security and Paramilitary Forces since 1991 (Osprey, 2013) Russia is devoting considerable effort to trying to […]

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Volgograd Terror Attack: Loathing and Loneliness

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

(RIA Novosti – Natalia Antonova, Acting Editor-in-Chief, The Moscow News – October 22, 2013) Perhaps one of the saddest aspects of the suicide bombing in Volgograd this week ­ assuming we were forced to pick one such aspect ­ is the amount of young people caught up in it. Among the wounded is a toddler. On top of that, that […]

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Russia’s North Caucasus, Islamists seen as main terrorist threats – poll

Map of Chechnya and Environs

(Interfax – September 7, 2013) A majority of Russians (55 per cent) are confident, to greater or lesser extent, that the authorities are able to protect the public from new terrorist attacks, Russian Interfax news agency reported on 3 September, quoting the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Centre (VTsIOM). (1) This answer has become more popular over the past three years […]

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Five Years After The War, South Caucasus Still Caught Between Russia, The West

Map of Azerbaijan and South Caucasus Environs Including Portions of Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Iran, Caspian Sea

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Robert Coalson – August 7, 2013) Azerbaijan is arming to the teeth. Armenia is growing increasingly disillusioned with Russia, its main protector. And the potential for armed conflict in the breakaway Nagorno-Karabakh region appears higher than it has been in years. The increased tensions surrounding the Armenian-controlled separatist enclave inside Azerbaijan — where there have been […]

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After Fatal Brawl, Russia’s Ethnic Tensions Hard to Cool

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(RIA Novosti – MOSCOW, July 10, 2013) ­ Russian officials and community leaders tried Wednesday to cool interethnic tensions by calling for a liquor ban, evacuating “radical” youngsters and promising justice, after a stabbing death in a small town triggered days of angry protests demanding that residents from Russia’s war-scarred republic of Chechnya be kicked out. President Vladimir Putin’s regional […]

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Russia Wants Tourism, Not Terrorism, for Embattled Caucasus

Map of Dagestan, Georgia and Environs

(Voice of America – James Brooke – June 6, 2013) A foreign correspondent who has reported from five continents, Brooke, known universally as Jim, is the Voice of America bureau chief for Russia and former Soviet Union countries. From his base in Moscow, Jim roams Russia and Russia’s southern neighbors. Car bombs and shootings make Dagestan the leader in political […]

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Experts in Russia Say Moscow Should Heed Lessons from Wars in Syria, Libya and Yugoslavia

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 10, Issue 101 – Valery Dzutsev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – May 29, 2013) On April 26, the authoritative Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta hosted a roundtable of experts on the situation in Syria. Although almost all the experts, as usual, accused the United States and the West of fueling civil unrest in Syria now and […]

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Hunt for Boston Clues Reveals Tangled Caucasus Web

File Photo of Boston Bombings Aftermath with Ambulance and Security Personnel

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – April 22, 2013) The quest for answers to what possibly inspired Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev to plot two explosions near the finish line of the Boston Marathon exposes the complex and convoluted history of the North Caucasus, which for centuries has instigated violence across Russia. The Boston bombings have shown how boiling […]

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No evidence of connection between Tsarnayev brothers and Doku Umarov – source

File Photo of Boston Bombings Aftermath with Ambulance and Security Personnel

(Interfax – MOSCOW, April 21, 2013) Information about possible contacts between the Tsarnayev brothers – the suspected Boston bombers – with extremist grouping calling itself the Caucasus Emirate will be checked but so far there is no reliable evidence to that end, a source in Russian law enforcement has told Interfax. Earlier certain foreign media reported a possible connection between […]

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EVENT: Kennan Institute Caucasus Railroads and Pipelines Conference April 2, 9:30AM-2PM

Woodrow Wilson Center Facade file photo

From: “Ariel Cohen” <Ariel.Cohen@heritage.org> Subject: INVITATION: Kennan Institute Caucasus Railroads and Pipelines Conference April 2, 9:30AM-2PM Date: Tue, 26 Mar 2013 Dear Friends: I am honored to invite you to the following event, at which I co-chair a panel. If you do not live in the Washington, D.C. area, our apologies. Feel free to forward to your friends in the […]

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Stalin’s Legacy: Ethnic Time Bombs That Continue To Tick

File Photo of Vladimir Lenin and Joseph Stalin

(RFE/RL -– rferl.org – Robert Coalson – March 1, 2013) Eighty-one-year-old Nikolai Khasig was born in Sukhumi in 1932. It was just one year after Soviet dictator Josef Stalin stripped Abkhazia of its short-lived status as a full-fledged republic of the USSR and made it a region of Soviet Georgia. At the end of 1936, Lavrenty Beria — at that […]

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Russia in the Caucasus

Kremlin and St. Basil's

(International Relations and Security Network (ISN) – www.isn.ethz.ch – Aglaya Snetkov for the ISN – February 25, 2013) Aglaya Snetkov is a senior researcher at the Center for Security Studies (CSS). Despite the attempts by Western powers to penetrate the Caucasus, Russia continues to exert unmatched influence over the region. In today’s Questions and Answers presentation, the CSS’ Aglaya Snetkov […]

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Will Moscow’s Use of ‘Soft Power’ in the North Caucasus Improve the Situation or Lead to that Region’s Islamization?

Map of Caucasus and Central Asia

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 28, 2013 – http://windowoneurasia2.blogspot.com/2013/01/window-on-eurasia-will-moscows-use-of.html) Moscow’s new effort to use “soft power” in the North Caucasus instead of the “hard power” it has used in the past may reduce the number of young people joining the militants and thus buy the center some time — but only at the price of opening […]

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Daghestani Brothers Struggle To Bridge Religious, Political Divides

Map of Dagestan, Georgia and Environs

(RFE/RL – Uma Isakova – Nov. 28, 2012) An uneasy peace holds between Ruslan and Rustam Shapiyev in the Daghestani village of Komsomolskoye. Younger brother Rustam, who has taken the name Abubakar, says he loves and respects his older brother, who has adopted the name Magomed. “Of course, a brother is a brother. We are obligated to maintain kinship ties,” […]

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NEWSLINK: The Caucasus Emirate Goes Global

Chechen Militants file photo

(The Caucasus Emirate Goes Global – Stratfor.com – Gordon Hahn – Dr. Gordon M. Hahn is Senior Associate at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. – www.stratfor.com/other-voices/caucasus-emirate-goes-global) Gordon Hahn writes on the influences of international Islamic terrorism upon unrest in the Caucasus: For a decade almost all observers ignored, downplayed, and obfuscated an ugly truth about […]

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Daghestan Becomes Hotbed Of North Caucasus Insurgency

Map of Dagestan, Georgia and Environs

(RFE/RL – Tom Balmforth – November 05, 2012) MOSCOW — Suicide bombings in police stations. Muslim clerics gunned down in broad daylight. Shoot-outs between insurgents and security forces. These have become run-of-the-mill headlines in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus region of Daghestan. Last week, unidentified gunmen shot dead an imam and two of his male relatives as they drove to morning […]

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Foreign Ministry Accuses USAID of Meddling in Politics

Russian Foreign Ministry Building Tower file photo

By Nikolaus von Twickel –  Moscow Times –  September 20, 2012 Moscow’s abrupt decision to kick out the U.S. Agency for International Development raised new worries Wednesday about a widening crackdown on pro-democracy groups. The Foreign Ministry bluntly accused the agency, better known as USAID, of meddling in domestic politics. Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich said Wednesday that the agency had […]

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