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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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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NEWSLINK UNIAN: Ukrainian prisoners in Donbas made slaves in Chechnya, relatives say

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

From 400 to 700 Ukrainians captured in the Donbas conflict zone have been taken to Russia, and many sold into slavery in Chechnya, Ossetia and Adygea, according to an open letter of the relatives of prisoners to the Russian human rights defenders published on the Web site of Open Russia public organization on Wednesday, a Ukrainian news broadcaster has reported. […]

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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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Russian Investigators Have Difficulty Accessing Nemtsov Murder Suspects in Chechnya

Boris Nemtsov file photo

(Eurasia Daily Monitor – Volume 12, Issue 68 – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – Valery Dzutsev – April 13, 2015) Six weeks after the assassination of prominent Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov near the Kremlin in Moscow, authorities have failed to present a coherent explanation for the crime. As one observer has pointed out: “It looks like the Kremlin has […]

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Is There a Feud Over a New Tsar in the Kremlin?

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

(Institute of Modern Russia – imrussia.org – Donald N. Jensen – April 1, 2015 – article also appeared at imrussia.org/en/analysis/politics/2217-is-there-a-feud-over-a-new-tsar-in-the-kremlin) Vladimir Putin’s ten-day absence from the public eye has become the most discussed event in Russia this past month, and also highlights the country’s crisis of governance. According to Donald Jensen, resident fellow of the Center for Transatlantic Relations, keeping the increasingly […]

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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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NEWSLINK Carnegie Moscow: A Chechen Dragon Splits Moscow

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

… In any case, the Chechen connection has split the ruling elite. Putin faces a backlash from those who object to his reliance on Kadyrov. Anti-Chechen racism is only part of it. Kadyrov’s enemies in the FSB and other places suspect, for good reasons, that the loyalty of the Kadyrovtsy to the Russian state is provisional. They recall that many […]

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NEWSLINK New York Times: Chechen’s Ties to Putin Are Questioned Amid Nemtsov Murder Case

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Ramzan A. Kadyrov, the strongman leader of Chechnya, has been at the center of intrigue surrounding the murder of Boris Y. Nemtsov, a prominent critic of the Russian president, Vladimir V. Putin. So before a busy weekend that included a night out with the boys to watch cage fighting, Mr. Kadyrov wanted to clear something up. “I am utterly devoted […]

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Outsourcing sovereignty from Russia to Chechnya

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

Just like in business, the centre of Russia has transferred a range of its functions to a regional political ‘contractor’. But now the tail is starting to wag the dog. (opendemocracy.net – Sergey Markedonov – March 17, 2015) Sergey Markedonov is Associate Professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities The North Caucasus is back in the news. This time, the […]

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NEWSLINK Christian Science Monitor: As Kremlin’s Nemtsov case unravels, eyes on Chechen connection

Nemtsov March of Mourning

The assassination of activist Boris Nemtsov was carried out by Chechens inspired by Islam, according to the Kremlin. But as that claim falls apart, Russian eyes are turning elsewhere The Kremlin’s case against five Chechens accused of murdering liberal activist Boris Nemtsov for his “anti-Muslim” statements appears to be unraveling at lightning speed. The alleged shooter, Zaur Dadayev, was likely […]

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NEWSLINK Moscow Times: Vladimir Frolov, Kadyrov, FSB at War After Nemtsov Death

Caucasus Map of Chechnya and Caucasus Environs

The Chechen connection to the assassination of Russia’s opposition leader Boris Nemtsov is pushing Russia’s spooks into political battles they would rather avoid. The FSB appears to have uncovered signs of a conspiracy that implicates Chechen leaders very close to Ramzan Kadyrov. According to Novaya Gazeta, investigators have found a sustained effort by elements in the Chechen security forces to track and target not only Nemtsov, but several prominent opposition figures and public personalities critical […]

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Russia Beyond the Headlines: New evidence sheds doubt on ‘Islamic’ motive in Nemtsov killing

Nemtsov March of Mourning

Experts say that conflict between Russia’s security services and the president of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, likely played a role in the murder. (Russia Beyond the Headlines – rbth.ru – Yekaterina Sinelschikova, RBTH – March 12, 2015) New details in the Feb. 27 murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov have cast doubt on the claim of the investigators that Nemtsov was […]

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NEWSLINK The Economist: Russia and Chechnya. The Caucasian connection. A pact between Vladimir Putin and his Chechen ally suddenly looks fragile

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

THE people who killed Boris Nemtsov, a liberal politician, on February 27th, did not expect to be arrested. That was clear from their impudence. Having shot Mr Nemtsov in the back, in the heart of Moscow, they did not cross the river to leave the city centre. Instead, they circled the Kremlin, passed the Duma, Russia’s parliament, and turned into […]

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Decoding the Political Game Behind the Nemtsov Murder Arrests

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

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – March 10, 2015) As the man suspected of having gunned down opposition leader Boris Nemtsov steps from the Kremlin allegedly confessed on Sunday, citing devotion to Islam as his motive, pundits agreed that the truth is likely much more complex than it seems. Some reasoned that it would have been impossible for […]

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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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Two Battalions of Chechens Now Fighting the Russians in Ukraine

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Eurasia Daily Monitor: Volume 11, Issue 199 – Mairbek Vatchagaev – Jamestown Foundation – jamestown.org – November 7, 2014) Reading the Ukrainian media earlier this year gave one the impression that Ukraine was fighting not Russia, but Chechnya (vesti.ru, May 28). Few doubted that Chechens were fighting on the Russian side in eastern Ukraine, but their numbers were greatly exaggerated. […]

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Ukrainian Crisis has Split Russia Just as Collapse of USSR and Chechen War Did, Gudkov Says

Kremlin and Saint Basil's File Photo

(Window on Eurasia – Paul Goble – Staunton, November 2, 2014) Lev Gudkov, the director of the Levada Center, says that the ongoing Ukrainian crisis is dividing Russian society to an extent comparable to the ways in which the demise of the Soviet Union and the war in Chechnya and that as such this crisis represents “a turning point” in […]

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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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One Year After Leader’s Death, North Caucasus Insurgency Soldiers On

Doku Umarov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Liz Fuller – September 7, 2014) September 7 marks the first anniversary of the death from poisoning of Doku Umarov, the Chechen field commander who abandoned the cause of an independent Chechen Republic Ichkeria in 2007 and instead proclaimed a Caucasus Emirate (IK) encompassing the entire North Caucasus. While Umarov’s death has had only minimal impact on the […]

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Decade After Beslan, Questions Remain Unanswered

Kremlin and Saint Basil's

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Ivan Nechepurenko – September 1, 2014) The children who set off for their first day of school 10 years ago in the small Caucasus town of Beslan, North Ossetia, will graduate from high school this coming academic year – at least, those who survived will. On Sept. 1, 2004, a group of 32 armed terrorists […]

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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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Chechens in Ukraine Capture Public Interest

Map of Commonwealth of Independent States, European Portion

(Moscow Times – themoscowtimes.com – Gabrielle Tétrault-Farber – May 29, 2014) Amid deadly clashes between pro-Russian separatists and Ukrainian security forces in eastern Ukraine, reports that militants from the Russian republic of Chechnya have joined the insurgents have been buzzing on Russian social media for weeks. As videos and photos purportedly showing Chechen militants in Ukraine emerged on the web, […]

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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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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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Obituary: Who Was Doku Umarov?

Doku Umarov file photo

(RFE/RL – rferl.org – Antoine Blua – April 8, 2014) Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) says it has “neutralized” the activities of Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov. The April 8 announcement stops short of a full confirmation of Umarov’s death, but it comes one month after a website close to Russian Islamist militants, Kavkaz Center, said Umarov had “become a martyr.” Considered the leader […]

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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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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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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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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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