The Caucasus Slides Into Lawlessness and Chaos

The Caucasus remains a volatile and problematic region despite the authorities’ pretense that it is not.

Chancellor Angela Merkel and German journalists predictably asked President Dmitry Medvedev on a visit to Munich about the scandalous assassination of human rights activist Natalia Estemirova in he Caucasus. Medvedev denounced the hypothesis centered around Ramzan Kadyrov’s involvement in the crime as primitive. In the meantime, it is the management model that the Kremlin chose for the Caucasus that proved itself primitive and thoroughly inadequate.

Attempt on the life of Ingushetian President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov and assassination of Estemirova are but a tip of the iceberg of instability gradually spreading into the so far tranquil republics of the Caucasus. Clashes with gunmen regularly take place in Dagestan, Ingushetia, and Karachaevo-Cherkessia.

Before the crisis, the Kremlin was perfectly happy with a simple arrangement: nearly a carte blanche to the regional authorities and subsidies in return for the illusion of stability and electoral triumphs of United Russia. Experts say that a new approach is needed now.

Estemirova, a human rights activist who specialized in investigation of abductions in Chechnya, was kidnapped in Chechnya and murdered in Ingushetia. Her colleagues pinned the blame on President of Chechnya Kadyrov. “Kadyrov threatened her. He considered her his personal enemy,” Oleg Orlov of the Human Rights Center Memorial said. Like in the analogous episode with the Yamadayevs not long ago, Kadyrov denied involvement.

An officer of the Kabardino-Balkarian Republican Counter- Terrorism Center was killed and another wounded in this previously tranquil republic, yesterday. Household of Ali Yandiyev, chief of the Nazran Police Force, came under fire on July 14. Interior Minister of Dagestan Adilgerei Magomedtagirov was shot on June 5… Thirty-seven were killed and 79 wounded in the first half of 2009 in Ingushetia alone. The data compiled by the human rights community indicate that 5-6 police officers, servicemen of the regular army, and officials are assassinated in the Caucasus every week.

Paradoxical as it is, neither the authorities nor the expert community established the cause of what was happening in the Caucasus in the years following the end of the second Chechen campaign. “Radical Islam is not all,” Anatoly Tsyganok of the Center for Military Forecasts said. “Corruption, crisis, unemployment, and impossibility of political self-expression are even more important factors.”

Enver Kisriyev of the Center of Civilizational and Regional Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences pinned the blame on the power struggle between the existing teips and clans. “Dependance on a single strong individual is a wrong approach,” Kisriyev said. “Criminal methods of struggle remain the opposition’s only choice in this case.”

Nikolai Silayev, and expert with the Caucasus Studies Center, said the only way out was in dealing with social problems of the region. “The catch is, the federal center is about to run out of finances [solution to social problems of the region will require],” Silayev said.

RBC Daily (Daily Business Newspaper)
July 17, 2009
Author:  Ivan Petrov, Victor Yadukha

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