NEWSWATCH: “Did St. Petersburg bombing bring Russia’s Syria intervention back home?” – Christian Science Monitor/ Fred Weir

St. Petersburg

“Though #Russia has been dealing with #terrorism for many years, it has mostly been rooted in domestic conflicts in the Caucasus. But Monday’s deadly bombing of a St. Petersburg metro seems likely linked to Russia’s involvement in Syria’s civil war. … analysts say that the identification of the bomber as Kyrgyz-born Akbarzhon Dzhalilov, from the turbulent central Asian city of […]

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NEWSWATCH: “How Russia Became the Jihadists’ No. 1 Target; Monday’s bombing in St. Petersburg might be only the beginning of a new terrorist wave” – Politico/COLIN P. CLARKE

Map of Middle East and North Africa with Inset Map of Holy Land

“… too soon to say who is responsible for the bombing … in St. Petersburg … it wouldn’t be surprising if international terrorists were responsible. Russia is fast replacing the United States as the No. 1 enemy of al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and other Sunni jihadist groups …. recent Russian actions in the Middle East … escalating intervention in Syria and its […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: “Should Muscovites fear Muslims?”

Russian Mosque file photo

Over the past decade the Russian capital’s Muslim population has swelled to almost 2 million, or about 15 percent of the total population. This has led to tensions with locals who are increasingly suspicious of the newcomers’ intentions, brash behavior and strict religious traditions. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – YEVGENY LEVKOVICH, RBTH – March 13, 2017) [Text with […]

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What Vladimir Putin Could Explain to Donald Trump

File Photo of White House with South Lawn and Fountain

(Jack Matlock, U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union from 1987 to 1991 – jackmatlock.com – January 31, 2017) The telephone conversation last Saturday between the American and Russian presidents seems to have been amicable and constructive, at least in a general sense. They are reported to have discussed key world issues as potential partners, not as adversaries or enemies. That […]

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Demographic Collapse of Ethnic Russian Nation Seen Accelerating

File Photo of Crowd of Russians with One Waving Russian Flag

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, January 25, 2017) Russian demographers predict that the total population of the Russian Federation will be relatively stable over the next two decades but only because of massive immigration from Central Asia and the Caucasus and still high birthrates and relatively low death rates among the traditionally Muslim nationalities of Russia itself. […]

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RUSSIALINK RBTH: Building bridges: Russia encourages traditional Islam to combat extremism

Russian Mosque file photo

Russia officially considers Islam, along with other religions, an integral part of its culture. Nevertheless, the state strictly sees to it that Russian Muslims remain loyal to the government. Organizations that set themselves at odds with the state-either politically or through direct aggression-find themselves banned. (Russia Beyond The Headlines – rbth.ru – OLEG YEGOROV, RBTH – January 24, 2017) “Traditional […]

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Russia’s Moves, Terrorism Fuel Talk of War in Europe – The Daily Signal [also appeared as “Europeans are quietly preparing for war with Russia” at Newsweek.com]

Europe Map

[article also appeared at Newsweek.com as “Europeans are quietly preparing for war with Russia”] (Nolan Peterson – @nolanwpeterson – The Daily Signal – dailysignal.com – The Heritage Foundation – heritage.org – KYIV, Ukraine, Aug. 3, 2016) Whether referring to Russian aggression in the east or to the threat of Islamist terrorism in the West, Europe’s political, media, and religious elite […]

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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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How Russia Is ‘Weaponizing’ Migration to Destabilize Europe

Europe Map

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Josh Rogin – March 24, 2016) Some officials in Europe see Russia’s hand in the rising migration crisis, accusing the Kremlin of exacerbating anti-Muslim sentiment to benefit right-wing parties at a fragile moment for the European Union. Even before the latest terror attacks in Brussels, anti-Muslim and anti-refugee sentiment in Europe had been on the rise. […]

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RBTH: Why does Moscow need Syrian Kurdistan?

Syria Map

Why is the Kremlin supporting the Syrian Kurds, who are now complicating the reginal picture by pushing for federalization, and how will this affect Russian assistance to the Bashar al-Assad regime? (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – SERGEI DEMIDENKO, SPECIAL TO RBTH – March 24, 2016) Sergei Demidenko is a Middle East expert and professor at the Russian Presidential […]

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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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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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NEWSLINK: “Tajiks fear weaker Russian presence will open the way for ISIS. Locals in Tajikistan are worried about the possible reduction of Russian servicemen in the country, as the Islamic State militant organization grows in strength in neighboring Afghanistan.” – RBTH/Gazeta.ru

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TRANSCRIPT: Dmitry Medvedev’s interview for Handelsblatt, Germany

Dmitry Medvedev file photo

(Government.ru – February 11, 2016) Ahead of the Munich Security Conference, the Prime Minister answered questions from Editor-in-Chief Sven Afhüppe and international correspondent Mathias Bruggmann. Question: Mr Prime Minister, thank you for finding the time to meet with us. You will come to Munich to attend the Conference on Security. Handelsblatt will cover the proceedings and primarily your participation in […]

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AFGHANISTAN TO SYRIA – the Russian game

Afghanistan Map of Ethnicities

Subject: AFGHANISTAN TO SYRIA – the Russian game Date: Wed, 10 Feb 2016 From: Andrei Liakhov <gaffriloff@yahoo.co.uk> AFGHANISTAN TO SYRIA – the Russian game I have tried hard to stay off JRL for a while. Too much to do and too much to travel. It does not mean that I was not involved in various Russia related situations. Syria was/is […]

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New York Times/Anatol Lieven: “The Key to Crushing ISIS”

Middle East Map

Writing in The New York Times, Anatol Lieven addresses the fight against ISIL. Since the latest terrorist attacks in Paris, President Obama and a range of other Western leaders have agreed that ISIS must be crushed, Syria and Iraq stabilized, and the flow of refugees reversed. If ISIS, Al Qaeda and their supporters are the greatest enemies of the West, […]

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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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Will extremists unite to fight against Russia and the West?

Middle East Map

The al-Qaeda leader has urged Islamist groups to overcome internal divisions and join forces to oppose the West, Russia, Syria and Iran. However, it raises the question of whether extremists can forget their differences and act as a united front. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – ALEXEY TIMOFEYCHEV, RBTH – November 3, 2015) The call to unite Islamist forces […]

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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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Five facts about Moscow’s new central mosque

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

Ahead of the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice) on September 23, a new central mosque was thrown open to the public after a special ceremony in Moscow. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Galina Babich, special to RBTH – September 23, 2015) [Photos here asia.rbth.com/society/2015/09/23/five_facts_about_moscows_new_central_mosque_49461.html] 1. One of the largest mosques in Russia The central Moscow […]

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Propaganda Lessons From an Old – a Very Old – Master

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Michele A. Berdy – August 10, 2015) How can you convince men to go to off and fight a war in another country? What arguments will be most persuasive? What tricks of rhetoric will get them to sign up? If these questions sound very modern, think again. These were some of the problems facing a […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: Islamist threat to Russia looms large at Central Asia security summit

Map of CIS Central Asia and Environs

The Kremlin is increasingly concerned about an Islamist uprising in one of the weak autocracies along its southern flank, all of which will be attending the Shanghai Cooperation Organization summit today in Ufa, 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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Russian Security Fear Citizens Joining ISIS More than Ukrainian Separatists

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – June 22, 2015) More than 1,000 Russian citizens are believed to be fighting alongside the Islamic State, but Moscow is unable to stem the flow of militants to the terrorist group, nor the flow of “volunteers” to separatist forces in eastern Ukraine, a top security official said in an interview published Monday. […]

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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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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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Interfax: Making people choose between terror, blasphemy wrong – Russian church official

Archpriest Vsevolad Chaplin file photo

(Interfax – January 14, 2015) Forcing people to choose between terrorism and blasphemy is dangerous, public relations chief of the Russian Orthodox Church Vsevolod Chaplin has said. He was speaking on the Russian Orthodox Church TV channel Spas on 14 January, as reported by Russian privately-owned news agency Interfax. A week after the deadly attacks in Paris, today the French […]

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In Russia, Tears and Jeers After Charlie Hebdo Massacre

Paris, France, View from Eiffel Tower

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – January 12, 2015) A mixture of genuine grief, petty political pandering and condemnation of a vaguely defined notion of blasphemy have dominated a broad array of Russian reactions to the massacre at French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo that left 12 dead. As much of the world commiserates with France in the aftermath […]

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NEWSWATCH: In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell

Vladimir Putin

[“In 2015, Vladimir Putin may witness his empire’s death knell” – Strobe Talbott – Reuters – Dec. 16, 2014] Strobe Talbott predicts that a third Chechen War could break out in 2015, sounding the death knell for Russia’s current geographic configuration. Indeed, Talbott comments that Russia could break apart by the end this century, and that the policies of Russian President […]

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What Can Russia Bring to War Against Islamic State?

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Alexey Eremenko – October 28, 2014) Moscow will not join the U.S. effort to thwart the Islamic State terrorist group until Russian-American relations improve, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said this weekend. The big question, however, is whether Russia is in fact in a position to offer any substantial aid to the anti-jihad campaign – […]

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NEW BOOK: The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond

Caucasus Mountains Satellite Image

Subject: Book announcement Date: Sat, 18 Oct 2014 From: GORDON HAHN <gordon-hahn@sbcglobal.net> My most recent book – The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond – has been published by McFarland Publishers. It is available for purchase from the publisher and Amazon. The Caucasus Emirate Mujahedin: Global Jihadism in Russia’s North Caucasus and Beyond Gordon M. […]

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Interfax: Most Russians unaware of ISIL, others see it as threat to peace, Russia – poll

Map of Iraq

MOSCOW. Oct 9 (Interfax) – Only 13% of Russians are aware of the existence of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and 54% learned about it during a poll held by the Public Opinion Foundation. Another 26% of 1,500 respondents polled in 43 regions on September 28 had heard something about the ISIL, and 7% failed to […]

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Islamic State Grooms Chechen Fighters Against Putin

Map of Iraq

(Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Michael Winfrey – October 9, 2014) When the Islamic State commander known as “Omar the Chechen” called to tell his father they’d routed the Iraqi army and taken the city of Mosul, he added a stark message: Russia would be next. “He said ‘don’t worry dad, I’ll come home and show the Russians,’” Temur Batirashvili said […]

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RIA Novosti: Fears of Radicalization Among Muslim Youth Rising in Russia

Russian Mosque File Photo

MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) – There is an increasing risk of radicalization among Muslim youth in Russia, Russian News Paper Kommersant reported on Wednesday. A large group of Muslim youth attacked a police bus on September 26, as the police arrested a man, who drove into an officer, after being told to move his car, parked in a no-parking […]

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Islamic State to Putin: We Are on Our Way to Russia

Syria Map

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – September 4, 2014) Members of the Islamic State, a violent group of extremists presently terrorizing Iraq and Syria, have released a video threatening President Vladimir Putin and vowing to wage war in Russia’s restive North Caucasus. Message to Putin A video released by Al Arabiya and reportedly filmed in a seized airport in […]

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What is it like to be a Muslim in Russia?

Russian Mosque File Photo

(Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Marina Obrazkova, RBTH – February 3, 2014) RBTH talks to Muslims in Russia and searches for the reasons behind the country’s apprehensive attitude toward Islam. Muslims are the second largest religious denomination in Russia, and they have peacefully coexisted with Orthodox believers over many centuries. However, in recent decades, Russians have started behaving […]

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Upsurge in Terrorism in Russia ‘Not Just about Sochi’ and Won’t End with Olympiad, Analyst Says

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

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 20, 2104) Most commentaries in Moscow and the West have argued that the recent terrorist actions in Volgograd were undertaken to disrupt the Sochi Olympics, a suggestion that some in the Russian capital have invoked to justify even tighter security for that competition. But even if those behind the attacks are […]

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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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Moscow Police Hunt Quran Burners

Russian Mosque File Photo

MOSCOW, January 9 (RIA Novosti) ­ Police in Moscow are investigating a video that shows alleged football fans burning a Quran and attacking Muslims in retribution for recent suicide bombings in Volgograd. The video, uploaded on YouTube on January 5, depicts a group of young men in the dark, burning a Russian translation of the Quran with several lighters. No […]

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More Ethnic Russians are Converting to Islam and a Few are Becoming Terrorists

Russian Mosque File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 2, 2013) Official identification of one of the terrorist bombers in Volgograd as an ethnic Russian from Mari El who converted to Islam and fought on the side of the militants in Daghestan has attracted attention to a trend that most Russians have been reluctant to discuss: the growing number of […]

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Interfax: MP Starshinov urges counter-propaganda, covert intelligence in fight against religious extremism

Map of Russia

MOSCOW. Dec 31 (Interfax) – Russian Popular Front Central Council member, head of the inter-faction group for interaction between civil society, police and security services Mikhail Starshinov (United Russia) has proposed a number of operative measures regarding the Volgograd terror attacks. “I am confident that we need to increase the number of investigators, especially in the North Caucasus, and to […]

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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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In Wake Of Repeated Bombings, A Question: Why Volgograd?

Large Mother Russia Statue Near Volgograd

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Daisy Sindelar – December 30, 2013) Dual bombings in the Russian city of Volgograd have left more than 30 people dead and scores more injured. Why has Volgograd — and not Moscow or Sochi — become the repeated target of terror attacks? Until this autumn, Volgograd was a relatively quiet Russian city, known best for its […]

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Parents of Volgograd Train Station Bomber Pleaded for His Return

Kremlin and St. Basil's file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Anna Dolgov – December 30, 2013) [Videos here http://www.themoscowtimes.com/news/article/parents-of-volgograd-train-station-bomber-pleaded-for-his-return-video/492336.html] The Volgograd train station bomb that killed at least 17 people on Sunday was set off by a Russian man from the nearby region of Mary El who had converted to Islam and joined Dagestani militants, officials said. The suspect, identified as Pavel Pechyonkin, worked as […]

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Number of Orthodox Christians, Muslims grows in Russia, 19% are nonbelievers – poll

File Photo of Russian Orthodox Cathedral with Man in Religious Garb in Foreground

Moscow, December 24, Interfax – Orthodox Christianity is the dominant religion in Russia (68%) and 7% of the country’s population is Muslim. No more than 1% of residents define themselves as Catholics, Protestants, Judaists and others, Levada Center said. There were 50% of Orthodox Christians and 4% of Muslims in the country a decade ago, Levada Center told Interfax, referring […]

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Interfax: Most Russians say tensions remain in North Caucasus – poll

Map of Chechnya and Environs

MOSCOW. Dec 4 (Interfax) – Russians think that the North Caucasian situation remains tense and do not expect stabilization of the situation soon, Levada Center told Interfax. Only 17% of the respondents claim that the North Caucasus is calm and prosperous, and 63% say there are tensions. Ten percent of 1,603 respondents polled in 130 towns and cities in 45 […]

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Russia’s Female Suicide Bombers: Well-Organized and Hard to Stop

Map of European Portion of Former Soviet Union

MOSCOW, October 24 (Nabi Abdullaev, RIA Novosti) – Investigators say that moments after Naida Asiyalova, a wan 30-year-old from Russia’s violence-plagued republic of Dagestan, boarded a public bus one afternoon this week in the city of Volgograd, the bomb she was carrying exploded, claiming six lives. The apparent attack serves as another reminder of the grim effectiveness of female suicide […]

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