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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Putin’s Next Spectacle

Vladimir Putin file photo with VOA logo; screen shot from video still

(Article ©2017 RFE/RL, Inc., Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty – rferl.org – June 28, 2017 – also appeared at https://www.rferl.org/a/daily-vertical-transcript-putins-next-spectacle/28583415.html) The Kremlin needs a new distraction. Russia’s rulers need a new story to tell. Vladimir Putin needs a new bright shiny object to wave in front of the Russian people. And if recent experience is any guide, Putin’s next spectacle, the Kremlin’s […]

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Kremlin Aide Lists Moscow’s Five Biggest Concerns in North Caucasus

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

(Paul Goble – Window on Eurasia – Staunton, June 23, 2017) Magomedsalam Magomedov, the former head of Daghestan who is now deputy head of the Russian Presidential Administration, told the leaders of the republics in the North Caucasus that Moscow currently has five major concerns about developments in their region that they must address. In remarks to the annual conference […]

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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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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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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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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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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.”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo » Read more

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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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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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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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”

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo » Read more

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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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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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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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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NEWSLINK: Putin Accuses U.S. of Supporting Separatists in Russia’s North Caucasus

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Intercepted calls showed that the United States helped separatists in Russia’s North Caucasus in the 2000s, President Vladimir Putin claimed in a new documentary in which he underscored his suspicions of the West.

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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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Why the Jihadi Threat to Russia Is Getting Worse

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

More jihadi fighters come from Russia than any country outside the Middle East and North Africa. What happens when they come home? (Bloomberg – bloomberg.com – Carol Matlack – March 30, 2015) The deadly terror attacks in Paris in January underscored the risk facing Western Europe as jihadis return home from fighting in Syria and Iraq. But the place that […]

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Experts Say Conflict in North Caucasus Waning – But Far From Over

Map of Chechnya and Environs

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – February 18, 2015) Though the security situation has improved in Russia’s turbulent North Caucasus, which for years has been plagued by almost daily battles between police and Islamic insurgents, the reduced number of fatalities seen in 2014 may just be the calm before the storm, analysts said Tuesday. “This may be the end of […]

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‘Top 15 Russian Fears for ’15’ — a ‘Versiya’ Checklist

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, January 14, 2015) Russians face so many problems and have so many fears that it is often a daunting task to ensure that one is keeping track of all of them. As a guide for the perplexed, Kseniya Veretennikova provides a checklist of the “top 15 fears” Russians have about the year […]

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Putin’s Backing Allows Kadyrov Free Reign for Open Threats, Analysts Say

Ramzan Kadyrov file photo

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Allison Quinn – January 13, 2015) Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has embarked in recent days on a marathon of threat-laden spats with prominent public figures, making statements so brazen they would be unimaginable coming from any other regional leader. Analysts interviewed by The Moscow Times attributed Kadyrov’s recent bout of brashness to the unyielding trust […]

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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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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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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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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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Putin Tries New Approach To Imposing Order In North Caucasus

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – May 13, 2014) In a tacit admission that the situation in the North Caucasus differs radically from that elsewhere in the Russian Federation, President Vladimir Putin has made a series of personnel appointments clearly intended to strengthen Moscow’s control over developments there. Putin has dismissed Aleksandr Khloponin, whom then-President Dmitry Medvedev had appointed in January 2010 to head the new […]

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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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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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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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Zhirinovsky Comments Trigger Outcry Across North Caucasus

Vladimir Zhirinovsky file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Liz Fuller – November 6, 2013) Not for the first time, the chairman of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) and Russian State Duma deputy speaker Vladimir Zhirinovsky has incurred the wrath of North Caucasus officials by making disparaging remarks about the region. Speaking on a TV talk show late last month,  Zhirinovsky advocated  […]

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