The Northern Caucasus, An Endless Struggle
23 mayo, 2014
The Northern Caucasus regions of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia and Kabardino-Balkaria, are still in constant conflict. The tensions are still running high, even though the Chechen war has finished almost 10 years ago. With ten million inhabitants, the North Caucasus Federal District is the smallest and most diverse of Russia’s eight federal districts, and the only one in which ethnic Russians do not constitute a majority. The ethnical disparities, together with the religious diversity have created various disputes between local population and Russian government in the region. When Bolsheviks came to power in Soviet Union, a restructuring process has began to create a Federations, establishing frontiers based on different ethnicities. Soviet Socialist Republics were created according to four criteria established by Stalin: a set territory, national language, same culture and economy. In the majority of the cases, one single ethnicity had their own territory, except in a few cases like in the region of Dagestan where many ethnicities coexist. This is sort of territorial division naturally lead to many problems especially after the USSR fall in 1991. A religion has become a very potent tool in many territorial and political issues with in the country. The Russian Orthodox Church has regained massive power in 1991, and has become very politically influential ever since. However, the radical Islamic movements started to follow the same pattern of popularity in the Northern Caucasus regions.
Vladimir Putin always had absolutely zero tolerance when it comes to fundamental Islamic groups, and this kind of attitude could be seen at one of the interviews at G8 summit in 2008. Putin’s determination to completely eradicate fundamental Islamic groups such as “Caucasus Emirate” terrorist organization had increased with the preparation of Sochi Winter Olympic games in 2014. Therefore, in only first three months of 2014, “Russia’s security services conducted 33 counter-terrorist operations and have eliminated 13 warlords and 65 active members of the terrorist underworld, with over 240 terrorists have been arrested.” This could be seen as a severe answer from Russian government on various terrorist attacks which have been conducted in the past few years such as, Nevsky Express terrorist attack from 2009 in which 29 people died, two combined attacks from 2010 and 2011 in Moscow which killed over 77 people, Volgograd attack from 2013 with 41 victims and also the threat which was calling for attacks on the Olympic games.
Chechen warlord, Doku Umarov, Russia’s most wanted criminal and often described as “Russian Osama bin Laden” has been killed by the Russian anti-terrorist forces in mid March, 2014. Umarov’s terrorists group was guilty of the continuous conflict in the region, seeking for secession from Russia and willing to create a state to share only with “their people.” The counter terrorist actions of the Russian government led to formation of some other form of terrorism, Black Widows a.k.a. Shahidka, a term for Islamist Chechen female suicide bombers, willing to a manifest a violent act of suicide bombings, in order to revenge their husbands or family members, which have been killed by the Russian security forces.
The future of the Northern Caucasus remains unknown, as constant terrorist attacks combined with the constant Russian security’s effort of forced eradication of terrorist/separatist groups seems only to create a vicious cycle which lasts for over 25 years now. With the current Ukrainian crisis and very oppressive and expansionist attitude from the Russian government, there are very small chances that we could see any separatist action in Northern Caucasus, at least not in the near future.