NEWSWATCH: “Politkovskaya Ten Years On” – Sean’s Russia Blog/Sean Guillory

Anna Politkovskaya file photo

It’s been ten years since an assassin put four bullets in Anna Politkovskaya — three in her chest, one in her head, the hallmark of a contract hit. … We can recall her career and her drive to cover the horrors of #Chechnya in ways few would. … We can quote her many articles and books for their continued relevance. […]

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NEWSWATCH: “Chechnya: Russia’s Islamic State? Troubled republic in secular Russia has been thoroughly ‘Islamized’ by staunch Putin ally” – Wall Street Journal/YAROSLAV TROFIMOV

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

In theory, Chechnya – though overwhelmingly Muslim – is an integral part of the secular Russian Federation, governed by the same laws as Moscow. In practice, however, this North Caucasus republic of 1.4 million people, ravaged by two wars of secession, lives under very different rules. Under strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel who has become a fervent ally of […]

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Russia’s militant migrant challenge

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

Russia’s terrorist threat has evolved. But the authorities are yet to evolve with it. (opendemocracy.net – Mark Galeotti – March 17, 2016) 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. Why did Uzbek nanny Gyulchekhra Bobokulova call out […]

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Kadyrov to Get Another Term, Say Kremlin Sources

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Daria Litvinov – March 17, 2016) Barely a month has gone by without a controversy involving Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. In January, a Kadyrov associate published an Instagram picture depicting Kadyrov with an aggressive dog and the caption “Tarzan’s teeth are itching to tackle [opposition leaders].” In early February, Kadyrov posted on Instagram an image […]

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VIDEO & ARTICLE: “The Masters Of Nothing”

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – The Daily Vertical: Brian Whitmore – March 11, 2016) Is it real or is it parody? Chechnya’s human rights ombudsman said a group of journalists and human rights activists brutally assaulted en route from Ingushetia this week may have staged the attack themselves. Meanwhile, the head of the Russian Skating Union said that the reason Russian […]

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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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A year on, what do we know about Boris Nemtsov’s murder?

Nemtsov March of Mourning

Russia’s powerful Investigative Committee has announced that it has solved the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov after a probe lasting almost a year. But who killed Nemtsov and why is the investigation seen as inconclusive? RBTH looks back at the most headline-grabbing murder of 2015. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEKATERINA SINELSCHIKOVA, RBTH – February 26, 2016) […]

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Chechen Separatist Leader: Kadyrov Is Here To Stay

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Natalya Golitsyna – February 19, 2016) One of Ramzan Kadyrov’s staunchest critics says the Chechen leader remains one of the most powerful men in Russia despite mounting criticism over his ruthless tactics. According to Akhmed Zakayev, the exiled head of the Chechen separatist government, Kadyrov has accumulated so much clout that Russian President Vladimir Putin himself […]

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Interfax: Casualties of law enforcement agencies reduce threefold in North Caucasus in 2015 – Interior Ministry

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – STAVROPOL, Feb 11, 2016) A decline in the number of clashes, bombings and shelling incidents continued in the North Caucasus in 2015, head of the Russian Interior Ministry department in the North Caucasus Federal District Sergei Chenchik said at a coordination conference of district police chiefs in Pyatigorsk. “The number of shelling incidents, bombings and clashes was significantly […]

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Interfax: Self-styled groups, not soldiers, fighting Islamic State – Chechen source

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

(Interfax – Moscow, February 9, 2016) There are self-styled groups of young people from Chechnya fighting the Islamic State terrorist group [ISIS] (which is banned in the Russian Federation) in Syria and Iraq, a source within the leadership of the Chechen Republic told Interfax. “There have been people from the Chechen Republic in the area of armed conflict in Syria […]

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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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Peskov on Kasyanov’s plans to await president’s response to threats from Kadyrov: “This is his right”

Mikhail Kasyanov File Photo

MOSCOW. Feb 2 (Interfax) – The Kremlin has said that PARNAS opposition party leader, Mikhail Kasyanov, has a right to expect a response from the Russian president, as the guarantor of the constitution, to Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov’s Instagram publication with threats toward the non-systemic opposition and Kasyanov personally. “This is his right,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on […]

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Interfax: Russian Investigative Committee completes inquiry against five Nemtsov murder suspects – Markin

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 29 (Interfax) – The Russian Investigative Committee has informed the suspects and their lawyers that it has completed its criminal inquiry opened into the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, the committee’s spokesman Vladimir Markin told Interfax on Friday. “Today, the suspects in this criminal case have been informed that the investigation has been completed, and in […]

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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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Article on Russian-Chechen Tensions Draws Chechen Ire

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – January 27, 2016) Chechnya’s regional legislature has demanded an investigation for possible “extremism” into an article by a Russian political analyst who wrote that mutual resentment between Russians and Chechens has been growing and was on the verge of an “explosion.” Magomed Daudov, speaker of the Chechen parliament, said political analyst Andrei […]

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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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Russian Investigative Committee: Nemtsov Murder Solved

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – January 21, 2016) Head of Russia’s Investigative Committee Alexander Bastrykin has announced that last year’s murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has been solved, the Interfax news agency reported. The investigation Into Nemtsov’s death was one of the murder cases solved in 2015 Bastrykin said in an interview with state-run newspaper Rossiiskaya Gazeta: Weekly to […]

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If Putin Sacks Kadyrov, He Could Lose the North Caucasus; If He Doesn’t, He Could Lose Russia

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 19, 2016) Ramzan Kadyrov’s increasingly outrageous statements confront Vladimir Putin with what for him is a Hobson’s choice: if he sacks Kadyrov, he will undermine his longstanding approach to the North Caucasus and quite possibly lead to a situation in which Moscow could no longer hold it. But if the Kremlin […]

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Confrontation between Chechnya leadership, non-systemic opposition causes concern, exchange of insults cannot solve political problems – Pamfilova

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 20 (Interfax) – Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Ella Pamfilova has expressed concern about the ongoing confrontation between leadership of the Chechen republic and members of the non-systemic opposition. “What really worries me is the escalating confrontation between the leadership of Chechnya and members of the non-systemtic opposition,” the press service of the ombudsperson’s office quoted Pamfilova as saying […]

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Russian media bosses unimpressed with Chechen leaders’ anti-opposition rhetoric

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, January 18, 2016) Editor-in-Chief of Ekho Moskvy radio station Aleksey Venediktov has said that Chechen parliament speaker Magomed Daudov’s statements against opposition journalists were an inappropriate reaction to uncomfortable questions in the media about the investigation into the murder of politician Boris Nemtsov. “I consider his words to be a reaction to our questions about the investigation […]

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Head of Chechnya says his controversial comments not aimed at “legal opposition”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Interfax – Moscow, January 18, 2016) Head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov has said that his comments, which caused an outcry, were not aimed against the lawful opposition in Russia; he expressed the view that Russian human rights commissioner Ella Panfilova “was too hasty” to criticize him. “I was not talking about the lawful opposition, which raises social and economic problems, […]

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Pamfilova criticizes Kadyrov’s words about non-system opposition

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

MOSCOW. Jan 13 (Interfax) – Russian human rights ombudsman Ella Pamfilova has criticized the statement made by Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya, saying that representatives of the non-system opposition are “enemies of the people” who should face trial for sabotage. “Such statements are not only pointless, but also harmful because they render a disservice to the country’s president and […]

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NEWSWATCH AP: “Chechnya Holds Classes to Counter IS Propaganda”

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

AP covers Chechnya’s difficulties with Islamic terrorist recruiting. Authorities in Russia’s predominantly Muslim republic of Chechnya have organized classes to stave off Islamic State recruitment. Thousands … have joined IS in Syria … some have taken senior positions. Islamic militancy has engulfed Russia’s North Caucasus … nearly 1,000 people are believed to have left Dagestan from Syria, the number of […]

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Member of Sever battalion Mukhutdinov charged in absentia in Nemtsov murder – lawyer

Nemtsov March of Mourning

MOSCOW. Nov 9 (Interfax) – Investigators have charged in absentia Ruslan Mukhutdinov, a member of the Sever battalion, in the killing of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. “Last Friday, investigators charged Mukhutdinov in absentia with organizing the Nemtsov murder. He was put on the federal wanted persons list,” Vadim Prokhorov, a lawyer for the victims, told Interfax on Monday. A source […]

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Ummah: Islam in the post-Soviet world

Russian Mosque file photo

(opendemocracy.net – Editors of OpenDemocracy Russia – October 19, 2015) oDR introduces a new series devoted to reporting and comment on Islamic life in the post-Soviet space. The Ummah, the worldwide community of Muslims, comprises millions of members across the post-Soviet space. The inhabitants of five republics in Central Asia-Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan-have enthusiastically embraced their ancestral faith […]

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Russian Press Digest (17 August 2015)

(opendemocracy.net – EDITORS OF OPENDEMOCRACY RUSSIA) This Monday, the Russian press reports on the import ban on foreign medicines, Rosneft’s taxes, and an attack by Orthodox activists on a Moscow sculpture exhibition. Kommersant opens with an article on new plans to ban imports of a range of medical products. Several large NGOs, including Vera and Podari zhizn, involved in medical […]

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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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IS Boosts Russian-Language Propaganda Efforts

Middle East Map

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Joanna Paraszczuk – July 6, 2015) The militant group Islamic State (IS) has stepped up its Russian-language propaganda efforts, another sign that its Russian-speaking contingent is becoming more powerful. Though Russian-speaking IS militants have put out their own propaganda for some time, in recent weeks a new Russian-language IS media wing — Furat Media — has […]

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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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Locusts, Spiders, Snakes Plague Russian Regions

Tarantula file photo, adapted from image at usgs.gov

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – June 30, 2015) Several Russian regions have been plagued recently by locusts, spiders and snakes, media reports and government officials said Monday. Locusts have destroyed large swaths of crops in the republic of Bashkortostan and the Orenburg region, prompting the authorities to declare a state of emergency, Channel One reported. An aircraft was scrambled to […]

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Interfax: Chechen leader on Nemtsov murder, investments, oil, Ukraine, marriage

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Interfax – June 18, 2015) The Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has suggested that the murderers of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov should be sought in Ukraine, rather than in Chechnya. He praised his region’s economic potential and oil reserves. Kadyrov also slammed Committee Against Torture Russian human rights organization, accusing them of following the West’s guidelines to Russia’s detriment. […]

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Remembering Budyonnovsk

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(opendemocracy.net – Svetlana Bolotnikova – June 15, 2015) Svetlana Bolotnikova is a Russian journalist and correspondent for KavPolit, an online publication specialising in political developments in the Caucasus. I was in Budyonnovsk on 14 June 1995, when Chechen separatists raided the town and took hostages, killing 129. Twenty years later, this town in southern Russia is still known as the […]

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Nearly 90% of Russians Oppose Polygamy, Poll Shows

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Jennifer Monaghan – June 3, 2015) Weeks after a Chechen police chief took a 17-year-old local girl as his second bride, a state-run pollster has revealed that 87 percent of Russians stand opposed to the practice of polygamy among the population as a whole. The figure, based on a poll conducted by VTsIOM, represents a […]

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Kremlin Critic Emerges From Coma

File Photo of Kremlin Tower, St. Basil's, Red Square at Night

(RFE/RL – June 2, 2015) Friends and allies of prominent Russian opposition activist Vladimir Kara-Murza, Jr., who mysteriously fell ill with poisoning symptoms in Moscow, say he has regained consciousness after a weeklong coma. “Vladimir has come out of a coma,” former Russian oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky said in a June 2 tweet. Kara-Murza, 33, is a coordinator for Open […]

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