3.31.2010

Warnings from a still-unstable Chechnya

Unsurprisingly, we have a Chechen leader claiming responsibility for the Moscow blasts today:
[Doku Umarov] said the Moscow attacks were an act of revenge for the killings of poor Chechen and Ingush civilians by the Russian security forces near the town of Arshty on 11 February...

The rebel, who styles himself as the Emir of the Caucasus Emirate, said attacks on Russian soil would continue.
Unmentioned by Umarov is Alexander Tikhomirov, a militant leader apparently killed recently by Russian security forces on March 4.

The relative calm in Chechnya -- where violence still simmers, a fact often forgotten in the West as well as in Russia -- has actually come at a fairly steep price: violence has spread from that region to the nearby regions of Daghestan and Ingushetia. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been no real unifying ideology to hold even Russia (much less the republics) together; essentially a cobbled-together empire, there is nothing to hold the Muslim south together with Moscow. And to the extent that the government has tried to formulate some kind of overarching ideology, it has largely been a Great Russian nationalism that further divides Moscow from its furthest-flung regions, further severing non-ethnic Russians from the center.

And as the eyes of the world turn toward Sochi for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, the message of terrorism becomes more potent. That's clear from the second blast, this one targeting the overt signs of Russian domination in Daghestan. I'd wager this kind of thing will only continue in the near term.