Rising Russian nationalism forces Putin to reassess financing for North Caucasus

North Caucasus Financing Takes Back Seat to Putin’s Political Agenda
Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 202November 2, 2011 01:17 PM Age: 2 days
By: Valery Dzutsev

Vladimir Putin and Dagestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov meeting in Moscow, October 31 (Source: kremlin.ru)
On October 31, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin met with the head of Dagestan, Magomedsalam Magomedov, in Moscow. Discussed in the meeting was the grand Russian program to spend nearly $200 billion to modernize the North Caucasus over the period 2012-2025. “If adopting the North Caucasian program is delayed until 2015, we would still like to ask you to have a special program for our republic to overhaul the social sphere,” Magomedov told Putin in the meeting, The Russian prime minister did not reassure the Dagestani leader (http://premier.gov.ru, October 31).

Gazeta.ru followed up on the news and discovered that the North Caucasus development program requires Moscow to spend $12 billion from 2012-2014, but the projected national budget under consideration in the Russian State Duma allocates less than $4 billion for the same period. A source in the administration of the Russian envoy to the North Caucasus, Aleksandr Khloponin, confirmed that the North Caucasus program would not be approved in 2011. The source claimed there were several problems with the program, including its financing. Currently, there are only two regions in the North Caucasus that receive extra funds from Moscow for developmental purposes – Chechnya and Ingushetia. The program for Chechnya, worth $4 billion, is coming to an end this year (www.gazeta.ru, October 31). The program for Ingushetia envisaged spending $500 million on the republic’s development in 2012-2014, but only $100 million is currently allocated in the projected Russian budget for this program (http://fcp.economy.gov.ru/uploaded/301/redaction_02Nov10_12-24-59).

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What is the role of FSB in the terrorist attacks in Russia?

On August 15, the newspaper Kommersant, quoting sources in the Russian security services, reported that the Federal Security Service (FSB) had thwarted a major terrorist attack in Moscow region. A group of young North Caucasians allegedly planned to derail the high speed Sapsan train that connects Russia’s two largest cities –Moscow and St. Petersburg. Investigators said that the primary organizer of the terror attack, 22-year-old Islam Khamuzhev, befriended his other three accomplices, Murad Edilbiev, Murad Umaev and Fyarit Nevlyutov, at a Moscow mosque. Khamuzhev had purportedly moved from Kabardino-Balkaria to Dagestan, where he joined the rebels and received relevant training. In 2010, the organizer moved to Moscow, where he convinced other young men to take part in the attack (www.kommersant.ru, August 15).

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Airport Attack Shows Russian Government’s Failure to Provide a Clear Road Map to a Safer Future

On January 29, Vladimir Markin, the spokesman for the Russian Investigative Committee, announced that investigators had determined the identity of the perpetrator of the bombing of Domodedovo airport in Moscow, which took place on January 24. According to official information, a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the international arrivals section of the airport, Russia’s busiest, killing 35 people and injuring over 120, including foreign nationals. Markin said investigators had established the identity of the 20-year-old male bomber, who originated from one of the republics of the North Caucasus. But the spokesman declined to name him or the republic he was from, citing the ongoing investigation. Markin said the terrorist attack specifically targeted foreigners (RIA Novosti, January 29).

While the Investigative Committee refused to disclose the name and the exact origins of the Domodedovo airport suicide bomber, it effectively ruled out a Dagestani link. In the same statement, the committee said that another terrorism-related crime which took place in Moscow had been solved. On December 31, 2010, an explosion took place at a Moscow hotel, killing only a suspected female suicide bomber. The blast reportedly took place when her suicide belt loaded with explosives accidently detonated. According to the Investigative Committee, a group had been preparing an attack in Moscow and several of its members were arrested in Dagestan. The committee emphasized that this group had no connection to the Domodedovo bombing and came from a different republic of the North Caucasus (www.sledcom.ru, January 29). On the same day, the Russian Antiterrorist Committee announced that the members of the terrorist group behind the failed December 31, 2010 attack originated from Dagestan (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, January 29). Continue reading

Criminalizing Journalists in the Caucasus: Valery Dzutsev’s Experience

Censorship and criminalization in the North Caucasus forced Valery Dzutsev, a former coordinator for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) to eit…

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Russian spies in the U.S.

The most recent mass arrests of the alleged Russian spies in the U.S. were very interesting because they shed some light on how the Russian intelligence works. Let’s make it clear, the arrested people mostly had English names and immediately after their arrest Russian foreign ministry recognized they were Russian citizens, while prime minister Putin said, he hoped the matter would be resolved along the lines of cooperative spirit between Russia and the U.S.

Russians made all these statements before their consulate in the U.S. even met the arrested people. So there is little doubt these people were really Russian spies.

It gets more interesting when it comes to the harm they did to the U.S. It appears, they did not do much, at least according to the information that is publicly available. Also the key person in the group was practically allowed to escape through Cyprus. So the Russian spies do not seem to have done much harm, as Putin pointed out in his defensive speech.

What does it say about the Russian intelligence services? It says several very intriguing things. One is that perhaps members of the well-connected Russian families from Moscow are recruited for spying in the U.S. It appears to be a prestigious job – to live off government’s money in a comfortable environment like the U.S. All arrested people seem to have been fairly wealthy, upper middle class or so people. They did not do much work, in fact, they may have used their government sponsorship just to lead “normal, American lives” and enjoy themselves. Further it appears, nobody particularly minded against their lifestyle and low efficiency. So this is an additional proof of their derivation from the well-connected Russian families, perhaps in the circles that are close to the security services and diplomats.

In the mid-1990s-when the group seems to have been dispatched to the U.S. these people must have felt especially lucky to be resettled in the U.S. as Russia and everything in it seemed to be falling apart. So these people must have been from the very top layers of the certain services. That is why the Russian government did not even pretend they were not Russians. The spies’ relatives must be very well-positioned people within the Russian government.

Does this story expose corruption in the Russian security services? Perhaps yes. Who said, that spies are necessarily honest guys fighting and making sacrifices for the idea of it? They are all very human, at least partly:)

Blogger that reported on events in Ingushetia arrested in Moscow

On May 8 I learned, that blogger http://ingushetiya-ru.livejournal.com/ was arrested in Moscow. Ethnic Russian convert to Islam Alexei Dudko was arrested around May 5 and has been kept locked, away from lawyers and relatives. His blog was mainly focusing on the events in Ingushetia in the North Caucasus, but also general events in Russia attracted his attention. He kept his real name in strict secret and, according to some sources, his arrest came days after his name somehow surfaced in the internet.

Needless to say, that the person was very critical of the Russian authorities. Russian general prosecutor had accused this blog of inciting ethnic hatred prior to the arrest, but probably did not know the real person behind it until lately. In fact, some of his blog’s entries could be considered rather controversial. However, enigmatically enough, the authorities reportedly accused him of explosives’ possession and not of inciting hatred.

So the case of Alexei Dudko’s arrest seems to acquire quite a political angle because of almost obvious law twisting by the Russian authorities. The allegation, that no lawyers or relatives are allowed to meet the suspect is of complementary interest as it means, if it is true, that even in Moscow, the capital of the country, laws are not abided by the law enforcement agencies.

What the explosions in the Moscow metro mean

North Caucasus rebels are the most likely perpetrators of the attack in the Moscow metro on March 29. It looks, the security services had prior knowledge of the coming attacks, despite that they did not alert the public and failed to intercept several people, that presumably prepared and carried out the attack.

This attack spell trouble for the Russian security services, that evolved good skills in depriving businessmen of their property, political persecutions, but grew unused to fulfilling their primary responsibilities. It is obvious the services should drastically be reformed. New set of policies must be worked out and implemented in the North Caucasus, that would give political freedoms and provide an appropriate legal framework with proper enforcement of the laws. Open up the region to the international developmental agencies.

In practice, however, hopes are slim, the inhabitants of the Kremlin will do something sensible. Instead, more liberal approach to the North Caucasus problems that started forming last year might be dumped. Mass persecutions of the people with the Caucasus origins might strengthen and number of exemplary killings might take place in the North Caucasus. In addition some kind of a reform, that would further limit civil rights may be introduced.

The North Caucasus Receives Unprecedented Attention from Russian Leaders

Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 42March 3, 2010 01:04 AM

By: Valery Dzutsev

On March 1, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin made an unannounced brisk visit to the North Caucasus. In the North Ossetian town of Beslan, Putin met the head of North Ossetia, Taimuraz Mamsurov, and in the capital of Ingushetia, Magas, he held a longer meeting with Ingushetia’s President Yunus-bek Yevkurov and other local officials (RIA Novosti, http://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 1).

The proximity in time between Putin’s visit to North Ossetia and Ingushetia and Medvedev’s visit to Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia on February 27 is striking. Putin, while he was president of Russia and even before that, was not known for a willingness to visit the region during its multiple periods of crisis, like the Beslan school hostage crisis in 2004, political assassinations or massive bomb explosions. The Russian government’s current focus on the North Caucasus might be explained by an increased awareness of the problems that Moscow faces in this region, including political instability, the growth of separatism and the rise of militant Islam. President Medvedev, in particular, stated on February 27 that the entire Russian government had to be involved in resolving the problems of the North Caucasus, not just the presidential envoy to the region, Aleksandr Khloponin.

It is more likely, however, that these series of high-profile visits to the North Caucasus might indicate growing competition between the teams of President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin over influence on Russian policies in the region. Despite its small footprint in the economic life of the Russian Federation, the North Caucasus remains a very important region in political terms, because of the terrorist threat and propensity for separatism. If Medvedev were to challenge the authority of Putin, Russia’s strongman, he would likely choose the North Caucasus for political maneuvers –first of all, because Putin’s political career is intimately linked to the North Caucasus, as he made his name during the second Chechen war; secondly, because Moscow’s brutal policies of suppression, frequently criticized by rights activists, failed to bring about stability in the region, but rather antagonized larger layers of the local societies. The struggle over the North Caucasus may be part of a wider phenomenon of the growing disillusionment of the country’s elites with Putin’s leadership and an attempt to find an alternative, as Anders Aslund described in an op-ed piece published in the Washington Post on February 26.

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Moscow Struggles to Control and Modernize the North Caucasus

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 34February 19, 2010 03:51 PM Age: 1 hrs
By: Valery Dzutsev
On February 16, President Dmitry Medvedev met the President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick. The World Bank’s possible involvement in the development of the North Caucasus became one of the three main topics of their discussion. This may signify a major retreat from the long held Russian policy of isolation of the North Caucasus from the outside world. Medvedev’s close aide Arkady Dvorkovich said that the Russian president’s envoy to the North Caucasus Aleksandr Khloponin would be entrusted with the task of carrying out further negotiations with the bank. Dvorkovich estimated the World Bank’s gross investments into new projects in Russia at over $1 billion in 2010 (www.kremlin.ru, February 16).

As yet another sign of the changing policies in the North Caucasus, President Medvedev dismissed the notorious Deputy Russian Interior Minister, General Arkady Yedelev, who had been responsible for security in the North Caucasus (Ekho Moskvy, February 18).

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Government policy effectiveness on the Russian demography

I created a short presentation on the results of my analysis of the effects of the Russian government’s policy on demography.

611 presentation, dzutsev2

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