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The Finnish-Russian Civic Forum strives to promote cooperation between the peoples of Finland and Russia by supporting civic initiatives for democracy, human rights, and freedom of speech.



Russia Accuses FINROSFORUM Vice-Chairman of Terrorism

"Activist Terrorist"Russian media reported that the Russian Foreign Ministry had asked the UN Security Council’s so-called Al-Qaida Sanctions Committee to add Mikael Storsjö, Vice-Chairman of the Finnish-Russian Civic Forum (FINROSFORUM), on its list of international terrorists. According to the Russian statement, Britain, France, and Luxembourg blocked Moscow’s request, however.

Russia justified its request by referring to Mikael Storsjö’s activities in support of the Swedish-registered Islamic news agency, Kavkaz Center. Moscow contends that Kavkaz Center is part of the so-called Caucasus Emirate organisation, which is a party to the armed conflict in the North Caucasus. Swedish authorities have found no illegalities in Kavkaz Center’s activities.



Still No Justice for Victims of Beslan

Ella Kesayeva, leader of the non-registered association of the victims of the Beslan school siege, Voice of Beslan, posted these disturbing photos on 1 September 2013, nine years after the tragedy. The photos have never been published before. All the people in the photos died on 3 September 2004.


Women, Tradition, and Power in North Caucasus

Across North Caucasus, society is divided over the role of women. Why are the freedoms of women in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan so constrained? Is Islam to blame? Is it a consequence of war in the region or of poverty? These questions form the basis of a new series on openDemocracy Russia, in which women tell their stories:

Georgia’s North Caucasus Strategy


The Georgian Parliament has approved a “State Strategy on Relations with the Peoples of North Caucasus,” Civil.Ge reported. The document outlines priority areas through which Tbilisi intends to improve its ties with the region, ranging from trade and economy to people-to-people contacts, education, healthcare, and human rights. Lawmakers said the strategy was designed to solidify Tbilisi’s “soft power” approach in the region. Earlier, in his speech at the UN General Assembly in 2010, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili had called for a “united Caucasus.” The new strategy paper stated that Georgia was ready to provide assistance to human rights activists from the North Caucasus, including by spreading information worldwide about the “real state of affairs” in the region in respect of human rights.


The Kremlin’s Chechen Dragon


How long can Moscow ignore the mounting evidence against its Chechen puppet?

In the summer of 2004, two years and four months before she was gunned down in the entrance to her Moscow apartment, Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya made a bold visit to Chechnya to interview 27-year-old Ramzan Kadyrov, who had recently become (with the Kremlin’s blessing) the republic’s de-facto leader. It proved to be a harrowing experience. When they met face to face, Kadyrov could not contain his rage at Politkovskaya for reporting on his brutal rise to power, even threatening to have her shot. Politkovskaya concluded later that “a little dragon has been raised by the Kremlin. Now they need to feed it. Otherwise it will spit fire.”

Politkovskaya was all too right. Since becoming president of Chechnya in 2007, Kadyrov has made the republic into his own fiefdom, which he rules by violence and terror. He has also, apparently, had his gunmen carry out a series of brazen killings of his perceived enemies in Moscow, Dubai, Istanbul and the North Caucasus.

Until recently, the Kremlin, which has provided military and economic support to Kadyrov’s regime, consistently brushed off the murder allegations against him. Since April, prosecutors in two separate cases—a murder in Vienna and a murder attempt in Moscow—have for the first time implicated Kadyrov directly. And in the weeks since those revelations, the Kremlin leadership appears to be showing misgivings about its unconditional support for Kadyrov. How these cases play out could have profound effects on the future of Moscow’s Chechen policy.


Venäjän pakolaisvirta Suomeen yltyy


Euroopan komission alainen tilastoyksikkö Eurostat julkaisi tiistaina vuoden 2009 pakolaistilastonsa. Eurooppaan tuli viime vuonna lähes 261 000 turvapaikanhakijaa; näistä lähes 48.000 Ranskaan. Kaiken kaikkiaan Venäjän Federaatiosta tulleiden turvapaikanhakijoiden määrä oli yli 20.000 henkilöä, eli toiseksi suurin määrä heti afgaanipakolaisten jälkeen.

Suomen osalta tilastot osoittavat huimaa nousua Venäjän federaatiosta tulleiden turvapaikanhakijoiden osalta. Pakolaisneuvonnan tilastoinnin mukaan Suomeen tuli turvapaikanhakijoita Venäjältä vuonna 2007 kaikkiaan 172 henkilöä, vuonna 2008 yhteensä 209 henkilöä, ja vuonna 2009 peräti 602 henkilöä.

Taustalla on Venäjän Federaation alueella yhä heikentyvä ihmisoikeustilanne, josta EU joutuu kantamaan oman vastuunsa. Tosin Venäjän maahanmuuttoviraston mukaan 44 % venäläisistä pakolaisista olisi muista IVY-maista tulleita venäjänkielisiä pakolaisia. Tämä väite ei ole kovin uskottava, sillä Eurostatin tilastointi rakentuu kansallisuuteen eikä kieleen. Kenties Venäjä ennakoi tulevaa historiankirjoitusta ja tilastoi jo tänään pohjoiskaukasialaiset ulkomaalaisiksi?

Lähteet: Eurostat, Pakolaisneuvonta, RIA Novosti

“United Circassia no threat to Russia”


A unified Circassian republic is no threat to the territorial integrity of the Russian Federation, a leading Circassian organization says. However, Moscow’s maintenance or even exacerbation of Soviet-imposed divisions could well present the country with serious problems, according to a leading Russian analyst of the North Caucasus.

In November 2009, an extraordinary congress of the Circassian people in Karachayevo-Cherkessia adopted a resolution for unification, which Russian officials rejected out of hand. Vladimir Ustinov, presidential plenipotentiary in the Southern Federal District, said the unification of the Circassians would lead to “the dismemberment of the region.”

Mukhammed Cherkessov, head of the Adyge Khase organization, stressed that “none of the Cherkess, Kabards, and Adygeys want to leave Russia.” Circassians want to become more integrated in Russia and want ethnic Russians living among them to “remain living on the territory of the republic as a stabilizing factor.”

Caucasus analyst Sergey Markedonov suggests that the Circassian “problem” may now get worse: “The harsh technocratic decisions taken by a narrow group of people without discussion or an appreciation of human psychology and ethno-cultural factors can lead not to the desired stabilization but rather toward entirely different outcomes.”