IWPR: Tenions Running High In Southern Dagestan

From: Eagle_wng

Tenions Running High in Southern Dagestan

Clash with police a sign of increasing discontent in the Dagestani regions.

By Musa Musayev in Makhachkala (CRS No. 338, 4-May-06)
President Putin’s envoy for the North Caucasus has intervened to defuse a crisis in southern Dagestan after one person died in clashes last week between police and demonstrators.

Up to 700 demonstrators blocked the main road in the village of Usukhchai, the administrative centre of the Dokusparin region on April 25, demanding the resignation of local authority chief Kerimkhan Abasov and the prosecution of officials for mismanagment of funds.

The protesters tried to march to the local administration building but their way was blocked by a unit of interior ministry special forces – known as OMON – sent from the Dagestani capital Makhachkala. The protesters stood for two hours in the rain holding placards, then made their way to the village of Miskinja where they blocked the main road with a barricade made of cobblestones, pipes and whatever came to hand.

The police then stormed the barricade using teargas, and shooting broke out. The police said that they fired in the air with rubber bullets after they were pelted with stones and that they were fired on first. The demonstrators said that the police fired first.

One demonstrator was killed, five seriously wounded and up to 30 received less serious injuries. Eleven policemen suffered injuries to the body and one was hit in the leg by a bullet.

Southern Dagestan, on the border with Azerbaijan, is predominantly populated by Lezgins who live in both countries. It is one of the poorer parts of the autonomous republic and known as the “red belt” because it traditionally supports the Communists in elections.

Three days after the violence, President Putin’s representative for the North Caucasus, Dmitry Kozak, visited Dagestan, listened to the opposing sides and promised a thorough investigation.

Pensioner and one of the protest leaders Hamdullah Kambarov, one of those who met Kozak, told IWPR, “The OMON opened fire as if war had broken out. They went round the houses next to the road. Before my eyes they beat and arrested a man who was just working in his garden. They arrested more than 70 people and kept them outside for three days in the rain like cattle.

“Last year, the head of the region was elected [illegally] by deputies from the regional assembly as the deputies weren’t elected themselves. There are financial abuses. In seven villages budget money is allocated for the upkeep of sports halls and cultural institutions which exist only on paper. That’s how they appropriate state money. Veterans of labour don’t get any benefits. Pensions are late. They keep back 50 per cent of workers’ salaries.”

The man at the centre of the storm, local head Kerimkhan Abasov, denied these allegations and accused the protesters of having a black market business agenda of their own.

He told IWPR by telephone that between 300 and 450 people had taken part in the demonstration. “Sixty per cent of them were outsiders and not natives of this region,” he said. “For example, of the five demonstrators in a serious condition in hospital, three of them were not residents of our region.”

Abasov said the protesters were acting on the orders of gangs involved in smuggling goods to Azerbaijan, led by men who had failed to be elected to the local assembly, “They earn money at the so-called ‘golden bridge’ at the Yarag-Kazmalyar customs post. They work as taxi drivers and in other jobs dependent on the criminal bosses.”

Disputes and demonstrations like this have become more common in Dagestan recently and generally occur over the distribution of official posts, land or property. Residents of a particular region hold a rally either at home or come to Makhachkala and demonstrate on the city’s central square.

Dagestan’s new president Mukhu Aliev, appointed only in February, has promised to resolve the problems, saying, “There are several reasons [for them] – the relations between the heads of a series of municipal territories, land disputes and the work of the law-enforcement agencies. We will sort out these problems conscientiously and we will not give into the pressure of rallies and violence.”

Some of the disputes are between different members of the elite, others are acts of protest by ordinary people who feel aggrieved when one group takes over power locally and concentrates economic and political power in its hands. The conflicts have become more frequent after municipal elections were abolished in most of Dagestan.

In the Kumtorkalin region in March, around three thousand demonstrators laid siege to the local administration building. Shots were fired, stones thrown and 30 people were hurt.

“If in the near future the president of the republic does not take steps, then the situation in the Dokuzparin region will look like a paradise compared with what might happen,” warned opposition politician Eduard Khidirov. “So far people are stepping back from the brink hoping that the president will resolve problems from above.”

Economist Olga Tsatsieva said that this kind of conflict was occurring across the North Caucasus but was worst in Dagestan. Among other factors, she blamed a rise in extremism that was going unpunished and a “cult of money”.

“The authorities are making certain mistakes,” said Tsatsieva. “For example, the law on private land. Dagestanis voted against this law because of a lack of land. But the government is still stubbornly forcing a private property policy on us and now we are facing the conflicts that have arisen as a result.”

Guria Yusupova, a scholar in Dagestan’s Academy of Sciences, agreed that a range of problems were combining to cause a crisis in the republic.

“Money is disappearing into over-bloated offices and is not getting to the provinces,” she said. “The population is reassured to some extent by the actions of the president of Dagestan in fighting corruption. On the other hand, the level of conflict goes up with the increase in the violent anti-terrorist campaign. Because terrorism has not only ideological but social roots as well.

“There are also the problems of divided and deported peoples and of migration. That’s why the conflict erupted in southern Dagestan. There is relatively high unemployment there and the average salaries are lower than in Dagestan as a whole.”

Musa Musayev is an independent journalist working in Makhachkala.

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Casualty count of war in South Ossetia goes up

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 8/12/2008 6:36 PM

Casualty count of war in South Ossetia goes up

So far, neither of the parties of the conflict that has burst out in South Ossetia has failed to present complete data on their casualties in the tragic events, however, the count of warfare victims from the first days of fights in the region is in thousands.

“Probably, in thousands, since absolutely everything lies in ruins,” said on August 8 Inal Pliev, chief of the information department of the South-Ossetian part of the MCC (Mixed Control Commission), answering the question about the potential number of victims.

In the evening of the same day, Eduard Kokoity, President of the non-recognized republic, stated that over 1400 persons fell victim of the attack of Georgian troops on South Ossetia.

The Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs has declared today that, according to the latest data, in the course of the warfare in the conflict zone over two thousand persons were lost, mainly citizens of Russia, as the “Interfax” reports.

The Georgian party asserts, according to Radio Liberty, that number of victims in South Ossetia is much less than the Russia-promulgated figure.

On August 10 in the evening, Georgian TV reported about 95 casualties in the military actions in the territory of Georgia and about 400 wounded persons, 39 of them are under CPR (artificial respiration).

Also, it was reported on August 8, that during the fights in South Ossetia over ten Russian peacekeepers were lost, and about 30 wounded. On the following day, information appeared about three more killed peacekeepers; and the number of wounded among them varied from 70 to 150.

Today, it has also become known that journalists Alexander Klimchuk and Grigol (Giga) Chikhladze were murdered in South Ossetia. Journalists Taimuraz Kikuradze and Winston Federly were with them and got wounded.

The personnel of the “Caucasian Knot” editorial board condoles with the residents of South Ossetia and Georgia who suffered in the course of the warfare and lost their relatives in the fights, and with relatives and colleagues of the perished journalists and peacekeepers.

See earlier reports: “Georgian tanks and infantry invade Tskhinvali”, “Residents of North Ossetia collect things for South Ossetian refugees”, “Georgian capital accepts refugees from South Ossetia”, “Tskhinvali residents have no potable water, electricity and gas”.

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CAUCASIAN KNOT: ‘Federal Forces Were Attacking A Deserted Base,’ Says Expert

From: Eagle_Wng


‘Federal forces were attacking a deserted base,’ says expert

“It is so far unclear with whom our colleagues in Dagestan have been fighting for three days using artillery and aviation. At least there is no official information in Moscow as yet. If there were no more than a dozen members of illegal armed units, it would be fun but for casualties on our part,” an officer of the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry’s Department for the Combating of Organised Crime and Terrorism told Caucasian Knot’s correspondent earlier today. “Basically, rebels constantly reconnoitre around that tunnel. Military columns for the grouping which is currently deploying near Botlikh follow this route too. This is a strategic road and a strategic tunnel. There have been numerous attempts to blow it up to make access from the flat part of Dagestan to the mountainous one considerably more difficult. So it is not ruled out that the republican police accidentally ran into a gang while conducting pre-emptive activities. The gunmen killed or wounded whom they were able to and then escaped in the dark. Both the artillery and the aircraft were therefore most likely working on a deserted base.”

The officer reminded that a group of Dagestani policemen had suddenly been ambushed near the tunnel several months ago. Some officers were then killed and wounded.

“It is so far too early to judge if the actions of the local police officers were correct and competent. When there is official and unofficial information, it will be possible to speak about their professional mistakes, if any, more clearly,” the officer emphasised saying that this was his “personal opinion.”


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Agency Caucasus: Being Recognized By Russia!

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 9/8/2008 6:58 PM
Being recognized by Russia!     
Fehim Taştekin
This is history; nobody ever knows when it brings fortune to somebody on the one hand while it causes damage to somebody else on the other. Since July 2006 when President Mikheil Saakashvili of Georgia was encouraged by the neocons of the Bush administration to order the Georgian troops to be stationed in Kodor Gorge, we have remained fearful that he would attempt anytime to reclaim control over Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  

It was on August 7 when he showed signs of madness and waged an all out war to ‘set South Ossetia free’. He even ordered the reservists to be called up… What an air it was! Such were the words that the ‘Little Bush’ spoke across the Caucasus: “We started a military operation to set Tskhinval free. Our forces have gained full control over the whole of South Ossetia.” He ordered the Georgian army to bombard with all of its rockets and missiles the Ossetian children, about whom he had worn a sad expression on his face while he had caressed their foreheads and had told a group of Western journalists who had accompanied him in his visit to the village of Kurta a short while ago that he would not let them die, because he preferred a peaceful solution. Saakashvili was just like George W. Bush in that he caused over one million Iraqis to be killed in a war that was launched to set them free!

Saakashvili lost after he gambled horrendously, so did his boss, the United States (US). Russia taught Saakashvili his lesson as its forces intervened to halt the Georgian attacks, plainly targeted on an area under its control, where its peace-keeping forces were entitled by the 1992 armistice to remain stationed, and it did this with even less than one-tenth of the entire damage that Georgia caused when it launched its incursion into the Ossetian territory. And the day has now come—a day that the West has always feared would come: The Russian Federation has recognized today, 26 August 2008, both Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries. The two ‘de facto’ republics in the Caucasus have eventually become ‘de jure’—at least for Russia. That is the moment when history has brought fortune to the Ossetians and Abkhazians alike!  

The whole world now looks for answers to questions of how the situation has so worsened and of what will happen afterwards. Let’s first list the facts to not become easy prey for the mass media, which is good at manipulating us into accepting its answer to the question of how the situation has so worsened: After the 11 September 2001 attacks, a ‘loathsome’ alliance was formed between Moscow and Washington to enable the US to use Georgia as a base through which to go to the Caucasus, a region that had remained blocked to the US access since the Cold War era. In its invasions of both Afghanistan and Iraq, the US used Georgia as its headquarters. And Vladimir Putin used this alliance to make Russia’s horrendous acts of mass killing in Chechnya seem to be intended as part of “the fighting against terrorism” after he equated Chechnya’s war of freedom with the US war with the al-Qaeda. International support was discontinued and Chechnya was done away with. However, the US tried putting up a few new barricades through civil uprisings backed up by the financial wizard Soros in such places already under Russia’s influence as Georgia, where ‘the Revolution of Roses’ took place in late 2003, and Ukraine, where ‘the Orange Revolution’ occurred in late 2004. Just after he could remove trouble facing him up in Chechnya, Putin started to intrude into the one-dimensional world of the US as soon as he felt assured to say that he was now a global actor, because the growth of economic power of his country that followed the rise in oil prices helped him to restore the prestige of Russia to that of Soviet Union. While Russia stays deeply silent on the countries that have gone out of their orbits in the wake of colourful revolutions, the US has already pressed the button to install missile defence system in both Czechia and Poland after it used Iran as an excuse to do so. The target was obviously Russia.

The most critical action was taken in Kosovo in February when the Western countries recognized its unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia. The latest move came from a summit in Bucharest in April when the NATO gave Georgia a strong assurance about its future chances of membership.

It was obvious that the US would respond through the Caucasus. But, in fact, Russia wanted to threaten Georgia’s accession to the NATO by recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia. It is thanks to ‘the stupidity’ of Saakashvili that Russia played its card earlier than expected.

Let’s make a further note after we firstly remember Russia’s bloody criminal record that went into the history of the Caucasus, secondly the vast Caucasian Exile of 1864 when the Circassians were banished from their homeland, thirdly the series of tragedies that went on from 1943 to 1944 and caused the expulsion to Siberia as well as to the Central Asia of the Chechens, the Ingushes, the Karachays, the Balkars, the Crimean Tatars and the Meskhetians, and lastly, the killings that have totalled 230 000 people in the two wars in Chechnya since 1994: Russia is today right to both thwart the US influence on global issues like Iran and the Middle East and recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Why? Aside from the global issues, if we are allowed to take a position only on the course of events in the Caucasus, we can say that the confounding principle of ‘territorial integrity’ has become fairly apparent in the case of Kosovo that proved to be an idol for the sovereigns to eat whenever they got hungry. Although Moscow warned that Kosovo would set an example for the ‘de facto’ independent countries, it could not stop the Westerners from recognizing Kosovo’s unilateral declaration of independence. Russia was right to argue that it would set an example. It is unfortunate that the West is hypocritical about both the recognition of fundamental rights and the international law about which there is actually a need for a fundamental query because it does not equally apply to everyone. Who can ever forget the Western circle of countries, led by Germany, dividing Yugoslavia into bite-size pieces so as to arouse the homicidal tendencies of Serbia, afterwards watching from the sidelines the murdering of Bosnians, the killing of 8 000 Muslim men in Srebrenitsa due to the betrayal of Dutch troops of the United Nations (UN) peace-keeping forces that chose to wink at what was happening. Kosovo was the most tormenting price that Serbians paid while they got involved more and more in butchery. Perhaps Serbians had long ago deserved it because of what they had done. Would it not be wise, however, to ask those who stick to their guns about ‘the principle of territorial integrity’: “Was Kosovo not the country of the Slav people from the very start? Why was the principle of territorial integrity made a mess of when it came to Serbia?” We sympathize with the Albanians and applaud their struggle for independence when the Muslim identities become part of what we are concerned with. But there is something morally wrong if somebody defends the principle of territorial integrity on the one hand and applauds the separation of Kosovo from Serbia on the other. Regrettably, Turkey tops the list of countries that move along this line of thought; whenever South Ossetia and Abkhazia become a matter of discussion, Turkey feels prompted to express at once ardent support for Georgia’s territorial integrity. What does Turkey say about a UN stipulation that grants peoples the right to decide their fates, after all? Well, it says nothing! But, just as Abkhazia is the country of Abkhazians from the very start, Ossetia is the country of Ossetians from the very start. Will these two countries be Georgian properties simply because Joseph Stalin (1879–1953), Gori-born Soviet statesman of Georgian origin, bestowed them to Georgia in his time? Neither the Abkhazians nor the Ossetians have ever accepted it. And as soon as the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) broke up in 1991, both Abkhazia and Ossetia broke with Georgia. But both countries suffered, just as Chechnya did, a failure in being recognized by the international community as former members of the USSR. While Chechnya tried to break away from Russia, it became a lifesaver for the two other Caucasian peoples altogether. (This is a topic to write about in an entirely separate occasion.)

What will then follow all this? It is obvious that calling it simply a cold war does not say everything about the recent developments. All the US could do after its reputation was damaged was to sign a pact with Poland to set up a missile defence system there and to send small warships off to the Black Sea on the pretext of delivering humanitarian aid there.  Everybody is looking for an answer to the same question: Will the tactical fighting between the two superpowers of the world turn the Black Sea into a combat zone? The fact is that both countries fought a fifty years of cold war to avoid engaging in a hot war. Neither side can dare to go to a war, unless, of course, some madman shows up. As is well known, the history owes its turning points to madmen. It seems like that the sides will play all of their cards. But, the US does not have much to do in places where the Russian influence is visibly felt. All the attempts that the Bush administration made in the Central Asia to render Russia passive have equally failed. Bush is a lame-duck president well before the November elections. Washington may perhaps finally try playing its Chechnya card to force Russia into a corner. While the two imperialists grapple with each other, it may surprisingly end up with Chechnya being set independent!  Americans may also fan the flames of struggle for independence in other Caucasian republics, including Tatarstan.  Aside from that, there are many more cards to play outside the Caucasus: Russia may try recognizing Transnistria in its struggle for independence from Moldova, it may choose to detach Crimea from Ukraine, or it may rather provoke the Russian population either in eastern Ukraine or in Estonia, a member of the European Union (EU), where 25 percent of the population consists of Russians. As winter approaches, Russia may rely on its vast sources of natural gas and try teaching the overindulged Western allies of the US how to behave well. And there is no doubt that it will target its missiles at Poland and Czechia as it has already threatened to do so. The West, on the other hand, may impetuously choose to grant Georgia accession to the NATO. It is on the basis of this kind of possibility that Russia signals future plans of using Abkhazia and South Ossetia as military buffer zones. We will soon see Russian bases set up in those two regions. We will even see in the Middle East reflections of the situation as it worsens across the Caucasus. Russia will take Iran under its wing while it remains a target for both the US and Israel, and it will ally itself with Syria—a country that is technically at war with Israel—just as in the former Soviet days. Bashar Assad (1965– ), Syrian president, already talked to Russian officials in Moscow the other week about his plans to buy an air defence system, missiles and airplanes from Russia… And Russia is eager to re-launch its former base in this country. In short, the world will witness, thanks to Abkhazia and South Ossetia, the 21st century version of the battle over how to share the world that was formerly fought in the aftermath of World War II.

Today, the Caucasus enjoys the happiness of Abkhazia and South Ossetia being formally recognized by Russia. However, the fact remains that Russia will not just stay ‘a guarantor of peace’—a status that it has fully achieved after it intervened in the war which Georgia, the ‘little imperialist’ of the Caucasus which became a tiny, powerless country after several Caucasian peoples were left subjected to its brutal acts of violence for 300 years, launched against South Ossetia in August this year. Doubtlessly, both Abkhazians and Ossetians will have to be more careful in their relations with Russia. But, without a doubt, Abkhazians will have to be far more careful in their relations with Russia. It is left to the Abkhazians to prove the Georgian administration wrong in its argument that “Russia is annexing, not recognizing, Abkhazia” because they were able to elect in 2005 Sergei Bagapsh president instead of Raul Hajimba whom Putin secretly supported. And time will tell whether or not South Ossetia—a country that considers joining North Ossetia—will be just as able as Abkhazia is.


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CAUCASIAN KNOT: Attackers Kill Police Officer In Dagestan


Attackers kill police officer in Dagestan

A traffic police officer stopped a Gazel vehicle for check at the Rubezh (“Border”) checkpoint near Kizilyurt (37 km north of Makhachkala) at about 8.00 pm MSK yesterday.

The two men that got out the vehicle fired automatic weapons at the policemen. Two officers sustained wounds, and one of the attackers was killed, while the other managed to escape. Gazel passengers, three women and one man, were also wounded.

One wounded police officer, Mukhazhir Gajiakhmayev, died of wounds in hospital later, Dagestan’s Internal Affairs Ministry told Caucasian Knot.


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Court in North Ossetia rejects complaint of “Voice of Beslan” against poor investigation of Beslan terror act

From: MSN NicknameEagle_wng  (Original Message)    Sent: 4/25/2008 3:44 PM

Court in North Ossetia rejects complaint of “Voice of Beslan” against poor investigation of Beslan terror act

Today, the Zaterechny Court of North Ossetia has dismissed the complaint lodged by the All-Russian NGO “Voice of Beslan” against the actions of the investigatory group in charge of studying the Beslan terror act.

“The Court has found our complaint ungrounded. No intention of the experts to breach the law was revealed. The activities of both the inspectors and the experts were found lawful,” Ella Kesaeva, co-chair of the “Voice of Beslan”, told the “Caucasian Knot” correspondent.

Ms Kesaeva asserts that the examination of victims’ bodies was held with violations, and inspectors had no right to instruct experts to make the exterior examination only.

Today, the members of the “Voice of Beslan” had their 2-month awaited meeting with Public Prosecutor of North Ossetia German Shtadler.

They asked him to clear out the circumstances of re-registration of their NGO, recognize this re-registration as illegal and restore their rights. Also, they assured him that the Beslan Prosecutor’s Office of Beslan is prosecuting them. The Public Prosecutor has promised to deal with their problems.

See earlier reports: “”Voice of Beslan” wants to meet commanders of the storm of Beslan School.”


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MosNews: Police Raid In Daghestan Ends In Bloodshed

From: Eagle_Wng

Police Raid in Volatile South Russia Region Ends in Bloodshed

Created: 06.07.2005 13:26 MSK (GMT +3), Updated: 13:26 MSK > document.write(get_ago(1120641966)); </SCRIPT>


A civilian and a gunman were killed and two policemen were wounded early on Wednesday during a raid in Makhachkala, the capital of Russia’s southern republic of Dagestan, bordering restive Chechnya, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

The raid was aimed at neutralizing a group of gunmen who had seized a private residential house, a spokesman for the Dagestani republic’s Interior Ministry told Itar-Tass.

According to Khabib Magomedov, a civilian invited to act as a witness during a search was killed in an exchange of fire between police and gunmen.

According to the press service, a gunman was killed and another was wounded. Immediate reports have said that two policemen were also wounded in the operation.

Police examined a three-story residence where the gunmen were hiding and found Islamist books there. Unofficial reports said some of the gunmen had managed to escape.

The internal republic of Dagestan has suffered a spate of terrorist attacks in recent days, with two police killed in an attack on a police post on Tuesday. Also on Tuesday, engineers defused a powerful explosive device found near a theater in Makhachkala and on Monday, a regional lawmaker was shot dead in his car in a western part of the province. 10 Interior Ministry troops died last Friday in the capital Makhachkala when their truck was blown up outside a public bathhouse.

On Monday the heads of the police force in the republic’s capital Makhachkala were fired over their inability to cope with the situation.

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