Hot autumn in the North Caucasus
Yesterday, a suicide bomber killed Sheikh Said Afandi and six mosquegoers. At the border check point in the Derbent region of Dagestan a soldier, Ramzan Aliyev, shot his comrades-in-arms. Seven people were killed, six were injured. According to one version, he was recruited by militants. The head of Dagestan Magomedsalam Magomedov ordered to form self-defense units for “punishment of bandits and terrorists.” The deputy head of MSU History Department, the editor-in-chief of VK Alexei Vlasov discussed tensions in the region with Ksenia Turkova.
- What can be said about the situation in the Caucasus, considering the developments in Dagestan?
- We should observe the problem wider, because it is not only increase of tension in Dagestan, but also a serious conflict between Chechnya and Ingushetia on unsettled issues of territories’ separation. I think it will be hot autumn in the North Caucasus. And it is a serious challenge to the federal center which several months ago stated that the situation in the North Caucasus was under control, and there were resources for implementation of big economic project. We see that risks remain.
- It appears that not only local, but even the federal authorities cannot control the situation.
- A lot depends on professionalism. For example, the force structures. Some Dagestan officials claim that real opportunities for technical struggle against terrorism belong to the federal center and the federals do not always strive for helping local services. But I think this picture drawn by local authorities is too sad to be real, as the main direct responsibility for security of citizens belongs to Dagestan’s officials. And forming these units – will they be effective? – means the situation is at the edge of failure. It is a bad signal.
- Can these units play a negative role and lead to sharper tension?
- Six-nine months ago this theme was discussed not only in Dagestan, but also in Ingushetia. Then many experts expressed their views, and 70-80% of them were negative, because such units mean inability of official structures to provide order when people have to defend themselves, their homes and relatives from militants. Moreover, the most respectful spiritual leaders of the republic are on target. This measure marks ineffectiveness and inability of official structures to fulfill their functions.
- Can the situation be compared with Chechnya in the 1990s?
- Some people even speak about the third Caucasian war. Either the West or some Russian forces shares this view. I am concerned with the fact that hot points appeared not in one, but in several North Caucasus republics. Three key centers of the region are involved –Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan. If Kadyrov and Yevkurov might be forced to conduct negotiations, in Dagestan serious internal problems play the role. We cannot exclude a bad scenario. However, the federal and local authorities still have time resources.
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