2009 was a year of unbelievable brutality in the North Caucasus and especially in its eastern part. And in the beginning of 2010 it continues with the same intensity. The Kremlin leadership has reiterated more than once that it’s there where a fate of the country's unity and existence is decided and that Russia will go nowhere from the Caucasus. That was a purpose behind a creation of the new federal district of the Caucasus as a result of which Adyghe, despite their protests, was artificially cut off from other republics compactly populated with Circassians. An idea of creation of so-called biosphere polygon in Karachay-Cherkessia and Abkhazia serves the same objective – it should expedite if not integration at least mixing of people living there with their Caucasian neighbours.
Still, a priority together with geographical and administrative changing of borders and increase of financing is given to increasing intensification of repressive apparatus which mainly is directed against people of different political, religious and ethical positions.
A clear indication of this is an officially published statistical data which shows numbers of carried out military and operational events, daily explosions and attacks on workers of governmental and especially law enforcement agencies, people abductions and hundreds of missing persons, thousands that were killed and wounded among law enforcers as well as opposition forces and civilian population.
Appointment of Alexander Khloponin as the head of the new federal district as well as transfer of his deputy and head of his administration from Novosibirsk was perceived as a fact of distrust towards local governmental elite.
This distrust was intensified by publicly stated words of the leader of the district that he would gladly settle the entire three million population of Novosibirsk in the North Caucasus and this would have been a perfect solution to improve the situation.
One part of the Russian political elite considers a reason of existing in the North Caucasus tense situation to be undermining activities of the country’s geopolitical rivals. Others state these reasons to be traditional Caucasian clan system and propensity to corruption. Mufti of Karachay-Cherkessia and Stavropol Krai Ismail Berdiev thinks this to be unsuitable religious education of population and incompetence of Muslim clerics. And that opinion is shared by presidents of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan. They conducted meetings of imams, strongly criticized them for ineffective work and gave them relevant instructions.
The first President of Ingushetia Ruslan Aushev made his assessment in his interview with the Ogonyok Magazine. He named ideological war and armed confrontation between traditional Islam and radical Islam Salafism (Wahhabism) that has been taking place for decades as the main reason for the tense situation in the region. According to him authorities and religious leaders of the traditional Islam that are in their service no more have any authority in the population and therefore youth in masses go over to the side of Salafits who not only denounce reigning injustice and hypocricy but are fighting it with a gun in their hands. Superficial changes and increase in funding will not improve the situation as it is a question of people’s life and death, their honour and dignity, their traditions and freedom.
Representatives of authorities and law enforcement agencies are not simply shot but they are being hunted. This is a response to brutality and lawlessness that reigns in the region. Only in Ingushetia 180 persons are missing.
In the course of last ten years so many resources were allotted and irresponsibly spent that it could have been enough to build three new Caucasuses. Problems cannot be solved only by money. What is needed is to study all units separately as all of them have different problems from each other. But an issue of human rights and protection of dignity is equally important for everybody. Causes of becoming refugees, their numbers and future fate also need to be studied.
With this statement Aushev as they say threw cold water over the Kremlin’s Caucasian policy and put it upside down as he practically defended North Caucasian underground movement that the Kremlin authorities declared to be separatists and terrorists. Movement that is organized by so-called the Caucasus Emirate headed by Doku Umarov and which has Wahhabism and Jihad as its ideological foundations and its political goal is to break the region away from Russia.
Based on the statement of the Prosecutor General the High Court of Russia declared the Caucasus Emirate as an international terrorist organization and prohibited its activities. The court was closed and it was attended only by the general prosecutor, representatives of the Ministry of Justice, Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB). Prohibited organization was not represented in the court.
To implement a “decision” of February the 8th of the High Court on February 11th a large-scale so-called anti-terrorist operation started in mountainous and covered with forests Sunzhensky district of Ingushetia to neutralize Doku Umarov and his armed groups that allegedly were there. The operation continued for three days and mainly federal armed forces, large groups of Special Forces of the Ministries of Security and Internal Affairs and aviation were taking part in it. Presence of President of Ingushetia Yevkurov and Commandeer-in-Chief of the North Caucasian Military District general A. Galkin in the region of the operation indicates to a great significance that Moscow was giving to this operation. According to information as a result of the operation 22 militants were killed. Also 4 Chechen civilians who by accident were gathering ramson in woods at that time were also killed. But the main goal – to capture or eliminate Doku Umarov – has still not been achieved.
After the special operation Ramzan Kadyrov made a statement that a danger of separatism in the North Caucasus has been reduced. Small groups of Doku Umarov’s supporters are hiding in woods and they would have long been eliminated if they had not had outside support. Despite such statement Kadyrov knows well that without active support of majority of the population and daily influx of fresh blood into armed underground it would have been impossible to stand against many modern military divisions and all kinds of special forces for years.
By Ramzan Kadyrov's order a group consisting of government officials and clerics condoled with relatives of those who were accidentally killed during the special operation and handed 300 000 Rubles as an assistance money to each family.
But a new scandal is brewing as relatives are searching for other 10 people who have not returned home. There is a doubt that investigation will try to pass some of identified bodies of civilians as militants just to justify themselves as it happened many times in the past.
Population is demanding investigation of the case and punishment of those with whose orders aviation and artillery were mercilessly bombing places that had no connection with possible places of militants. Expectations that after coming of businessman A. Khloponin into power as a new head of the region repressions would have slowed down and search for a common ground with opposition forces would have been started has not been met.
Tactics of threatening the population was not successful either and that was confirmed by new wave of explosions and killings of law enforcers after the bloody operation in February.
Multitude of repressed and angered has always caused a chain reaction of vengeance and increase in human casualties on both sides.
Peoples of North Caucasus are waiting for fair and timely resolution of their problems.