Monday, August 31, 2009

Bad News in Chechnya and Ingushetia

In yesterday's New York Times (here), Ellen Barry reports that the situations in Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan -- after improving for a number of years -- have taken a turn for the worse.

According to Barry, Russia has focused its Chechnya strategy around President Ramzan Kadyrov, whose level of authority is questioned in the face of rising violence:

For years, the Kremlin’s strategy in the Caucasus has hinged on Mr. Kadyrov, with Moscow giving him free rein to crush signs of rebellion in the region.

Mr. Kadyrov, a former separatist himself, transformed his corps of fighters into a brutal internal police force. Human rights organizations documented his government’s use of torture, intimidation and extrajudicial killing, but even liberals had to admit that he had been effective at quelling the violence.

Now, Mr. Kadyrov’s grip on Chechnya looks far weaker, leaving Moscow with a choice about whether to stick with a deeply flawed policy or risk a change of course.

Kadyrov blames Islamic extremists for the rise in violence and alleges that they are financed by Western countries.

In Ingushetia, Dmitri Medvedev had hand-picked Yunus-Bek Yevkurov as President, but Yevkurov was seriously wounded in a suicide bomb attack early this summer.

The photo, by Kazbek Vakhayev from yesterday's Times, shows the aftermath of an August 17 bombing at a police station in Nazran, Ingushetia, which killed 25 people.

289. How much coverage do the Caucusus areas get in the Russian media? Is it analogous to Mexico's coverage in the US media?

290. How many Chechens live in non-Chechnya Russia? Do they have any political influence?

291. What are the main economic activities in the Caucusus? Is there any tourism there at all?

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