Stability in Russia's Chechnya and Other Regions of the North Caucasus: Recent Developments
Stability in Russia’s Chechnya and Other Regions
of the North Caucasus: Recent Developments
August 12, 2008
Specialist in Russian and Eurasian Affairs
Foreign Affairs, Defense, and Trade Division
Stability in Russia’s Chechnya and Other Regions of
the North Caucasus: Recent Developments
In recent years, there have not been major terrorist attacks in Russia’s North
Caucasus — a border area between the Black and Caspian Seas that includes the
formerly breakaway Chechnya and other ethnic-based regions — on the scale of the
June 2004 raid on security offices in the town of Nazran (in Ingushetia), where nearly
100 security personnel and civilians were killed, or the September 2004 attack at the
Beslan grade school (in North Ossetia), where 300 or more civilians were killed.
This record, in part, might be attributed to government tactics. For instance, the
Russian Interior (police) Ministry reported that its troops had conducted over 850
sweep operations (“zachistki”) in 2007 in the North Caucasus, in which they
surround a village and search every house, ostensibly in a bid to apprehend terrorists.
Critics of the operations allege that the troops frequently engage in pillaging and
gratuitous violence and are responsible for kidnapings for ransom and
“disappearances” of civilians.
Although it appears that major terrorist attacks have abated, there reportedly
have been increasingly frequent small-scale attacks against government targets.
Additionally, many ethnic Russian and other non-native civilians have been
murdered or have disappeared, which has spurred the migration of most of the non-
native population from the North Caucasus. Russian authorities argue that foreign
terrorist groups continue to operate in the North Caucasus and to receive outside
financial and material assistance.
The Bush Administration generally has supported the Russian government’s
efforts to combat terrorism in the North Caucasus. However, the Administration and
Congress also have continued to raise concerns about the wide scope of human rights
abuses committed by the Russian government in the North Caucasus. The
Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 (P.L.110-161) included $8 million for
humanitarian, conflict mitigation, human rights, civil society, and relief and recovery
assistance for Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and North Ossetia. The Act also
repeats language used for several years that directs that 60% of the assistance
allocated to Russia will be withheld (excluding medical, human trafficking, and
Comprehensive Threat Reduction aid) until the President certifies that Russia is
facilitating full access to Chechnya for international non-governmental organizations
providing humanitarian relief to displaced persons.
The Administration’s budget request for FY2009 calls for $3.5 million for
conflict mitigation and reconciliation activities in the North Caucasus to help stem
the spread of violence and instability. The request also calls for unspecified amounts
of assistance for the North Caucasus to promote economic opportunities, youth
employment, health, sanitation, and community development, and to discourage the
spread of extremist ideologies.
In troduction ..................................................1
Recent Developments in the North Caucasus........................2
Other Areas of the North Caucasus............................5
Contributions to Instability......................................6
Implications for Russia.........................................8
Implications for U.S. Interests....................................9
List of Tables
Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Russia’s North Caucasus Region,
FY2007 and FY2008..........................................12
Stability in Russia’s Chechnya and Other
Regions of the North Caucasus:
In recent years, there have not been major terrorist attacks in the North
Caucasus1 on the scale of the June 2004 raid on security offices in the town of Nazran
(in Ingushetia), where nearly 100 security personnel and civilians were killed, or the
September 2004 attack at the Beslan grade school (in North Ossetia), where 300 or
more civilians were killed. This record, in part, could be attributed to government
tactics. For instance, the Russian Interior (police) Ministry reported that its troops
had conducted over 850 sweep operations (“zachistki”) in 2007 in the North
Caucasus, in which they surround a village and search every house, ostensibly in a
bid to apprehend terrorists. Critics of the operations allege that the troops frequently
engage in pillaging and gratuitous violence and are responsible for kidnapings for2
ransom and “disappearances” of civilians.
However, in recent months there reportedly have been increasingly frequent
smaller-scale attacks against government targets. For example, on June 12-15, 2008,
terrorist attacks took place in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan. In a village in
Chechnya, 20-60 guerrillas attacked homes belonging to government officials and
policemen, took hostages, and reportedly killed or wounded over a dozen people. In
Ingushetia, an explosion leveled a store in Nazran and killed four people. Although
the cause of the explosion was unclear, others deemed to be terrorist-related had
occurred in the republic in previous days. In Dagestan, a weapons cache was
discovered, alleged terrorists were killed during a police operation, and a bomb was
defused. Additionally, many ethnic Russian and other non-native civilians have been
murdered or have disappeared, which has spurred the migration of most of the non-
native population from the North Caucasus.
The Commander of the Joint Group of Forces in the North Caucasus, Major
General Nikolay Sivak, announced that seventeen Russian troops had been killed in
counter-terrorist operations during the first half of 2008.3 According to the Interior
Ministry Forces Commander, General Nikolay Rogozhkin, “there are no more than
1 Russia’s North Caucasus includes the “republics” of Adygea, Karachay-Cherkessia,
Kabardino-Balkaria, North Ossetia-Alania, Ingushetia, Chechnya, and Dagestan, and the
Krasnodar and Stavropol “territories.”
2 U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007, March
3 Interfax, May 20, 2008.
400-600 militants left and they keep migrating from one republic to another,” and
they receive funding from the West.4
Commenting on the violence, Russian analyst Sergey Markedonov suggested
that Islamic extremism appeared responsible for these and many other incidents in
Chechnya, that grievances against the local leadership by various groups could have
been behind incidents in Ingushetia, and that inter-ethnic disputes as well as Islamic
extremism might be factors in incidents in Dagestan.5 In late June 2008,
Colonel-General Gennadiy Troshev, adviser to the Russian president and former
commander of the Joint Group of Forces in the North Caucasus, stated that “all large
organized armed groups in Chechnya have been eliminated, defeated or dispersed.
The remaining small disconnected armed groups [have moved to] Dagestan and
Ingushetia.” Nonetheless, he warned that “it is too soon to say that the situation in
[Chechnya] as well as in the entire North Caucasus has completely normalized.”6
Recent Developments in the North Caucasus
Chechnya. Some observers have argued that Russia’s efforts to suppress the
separatist movement in its Chechnya region have been the most violent in Europe in7
recent years in terms of ongoing military and civilian casualties. In late 1999,
Russia’s then-Premier Putin ordered military, police, and security forces to enter the
breakaway Chechnya region. By early 2000, these forces occupied most of the
region. High levels of fighting continued for several more years, and resulted in
thousands of Russian and Chechen casualties and hundreds of thousands of displaced
persons. In 2005, then-Chechen rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Saydullayev decreed the
formation of a Caucasus Front against Russia among Islamic believers in the North
Caucasus, in an attempt to widen Chechnya’s conflict with Russia.
The high levels of conflict in Chechnya appeared to ebb markedly after mid-
decade with the killing, capture, or surrender of leading Chechen insurgents.
However, Russian security forces and pro-Moscow Chechen forces still contend with
residual insurgency. Remaining rebels have split into two basic groups, one led by
Doka Umarev, who emphasizes jihad, and the other a more disparate group
represented by Akhmed Zakayev, who stresses independence for Chechnya more than
jihad. Reportedly, Zakayev has little or no influence over paramilitary operations.
Umarev allegedly attempted to replace Zakayev as Chechnya’s European emissary
with the father of the terrorist who led hostage-taking at a Moscow theater in 2002.
In late 2007, Umarev proclaimed the goal of an “Emirate of the Caucasus.”
4 Interfax, May 8, 2008.
5 Open Source Center. Central Eurasia: Daily Report (hereafter CEDR), June 17, 2008,
Doc. No. CEP-379001.
6 CEDR, June 25, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950138.
7 For background information, see CRS Report RL32272, Bringing Peace to Chechnya?
Assessments and Implications, by Jim Nichol.
Russia’s pacification policy has involved setting up a pro-Moscow regional
government and transferring more and more local security duties to this government.
An important factor in Russia’s seeming success in Chechnya has been reliance on
pro-Moscow Chechen clans affiliated with regional president Ramzan Kadyrov.
Police and paramilitary forces under his authority allegedly have committed flagrant
abuses of human rights, including by holding the relatives of insurgents as hostages
under threat of death until the insurgents surrendered.
Russia’s efforts to rebuild the largely devastated region have been impressive
but reportedly are undermined by rampant corruption. Some types of crimes against
civilians reportedly have decreased, such as kidnaping and disappearances, according
to the Norwegian Helsinki Committee, a non-governmental organization (NGO).
Many displaced Chechens still fear returning to the region, and a sizeable number
have emigrated from Russia.
The ongoing violence appears to belie the assertion of then-Russian Defense
Minister Sergey Ivanov in early 2007 that “we have managed to achieve a success in
Chechnya [and] the problem is solved” of eliminating what he termed internationally
backed terrorists.8 In May 2008, Major General Nikolay Sivak admitted that a new
generation of Chechen youth were becoming rebels and were receiving help from the
population, so that Russia’s national security continued to be threatened.9 According
to some reports, up to 25,000 Russian military troops and about 24,000 police troops
remain in Chechnya, bolstering Chechen security forces. Other troops and security
forces are deployed to the region as necessary for special operations. Faced with
several terrorist attacks during June 2008, Chechen president Kadyrov called on June
Ingushetia. According to some observers, Ingushetia in recent years has
threatened to become the “new Chechnya” of disorder and violence in the region, a
“mini-failed state.”11 The Chechen-Ingush Autonomous Republic, divided in the late
Soviet period into separate Chechen and Ingush Republics, has proven unable to
demarcate a common border. This has contributed to tensions between Chechens and
Ingushes. Another historical event, Stalin’s deportation of the Ingush during World
War II and their return in the 1950s to find that some of their lands had been ceded
to the North Ossetian Autonomous Republic, has contributed to Ingush-Ossetian
clashes. According to testimony by Russian human rights advocate Gregory12
Shvedov, there are up to 200 terrorists based in Ingushetia. Small-scale rebel
attacks intensified in 2007-2008, prompting Russia to deploy more and more
8 CEDR, February 12, 2007, Doc. No. CEP-950029.
9 CEDR, May 20, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-548001.
10 “Kadyrov Calls for a Joint Military Operation Against the Rebels,” North Caucasus
Weekly, June 26, 2008.
11 “Commentators See Ingushetia as a ‘Failed State’ Where an Uprising Could Occur,”
Chechnya Weekly, Vol. 8, Issue 34 (September 6, 2007); “Ingushetia Takes Chechnya’s
Place as the North Caucasus Hot Spot,” Chechnya Weekly, September 6, 2007.
12 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Briefing: Ingushetia, the New Hot
Spot in Russia’s North Caucasus, June 19, 2008.
security, military, and police forces to the republic. Since 2007, there allegedly have
been more killings, attacks, and abductions in Ingushetia — perpetrated by
government and rebel forces, criminals, and others — than in any other republic in
the North Caucasus.13
Russian analyst Sergey Markedonov argues that there is one “loyal opposition”
movement in Ingushetia that opposes the current leadership of Murat Zyazikov, but
supports Russian rule in the republic. Another group, the Islamic extremists, wants
to evict “kafirs” (infidels) and “murtads” (apostate Muslims) and create a North
Caucasus emirate.14 This “loyal opposition” organized several rallies in 2007 and
early 2008 to protest local government corruption and extrajudicial killings and other
alleged abuses by security forces. A rally in January 2008 in Nazran reportedly
involved rock-throwing by the protesters and was forcibly broken up by security
forces. The authorities announced that Nazran was a counter-terrorist operation zone,
which enabled Russian troops to dispense with some civil rights during the rally.
Several reporters and human rights advocates were among those arrested.15 Human
Rights Watch (HRW) has warned in a recent report that “Russia’s brutal
counterinsurgency policies [in Ingushetia] are antagonizing local residents [and] are
likely to further destabilize the situation in Ingushetia and beyond in the North
Caucasus.” A government-supported “human rights advocate” in Moscow
denounced the HRW report as maligning the efforts of the police to bring law and
order to Ingushetia.16
Dagestan. The majority of the citizenry in Dagestan, a multi-ethnic republic,
reportedly support membership in the Russian Federation rather than separatism. In
August 1999, however, some Islamic fundamentalists — with the support of Chechen
rebels — declared the creation of an Islamic republic in western Dagestan. Russian
and Dagestani security forces quickly defeated this insurgency. There has been some
growth in Islamic extremism in recent years, and terrorist attacks have occurred in
northern and central areas bordering Chechnya. In late 2007, thousands of security
personnel were deployed for a “zachistka” against the village of Gimry in central
Dagetan, which continued for several months and resulted in the arrest of dozens of
villagers on charges of terrorism. During 2008, attacks on government offices have
spread to southern Dagestan. Some of these attacks allegedly were triggered by a
13 Andrei Smirnov, “Kremlin Adopts New Counter-Insurgency Methods in Ingushetia,”
Chechnya Weekly, September 27, 2007. U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on
Human Rights Practices in 2007, March 11, 2008. According to testimony by Magomed
Mutsolgov, the Director of the Ingush Mashr Human Rights Organization, kidnapings in
Ingushetia have decreased over the past year or so from previously high levels, but murders
by the police have increased. Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
Briefing: Ingushetia, the New Hot Spot in Russia’s North Caucasus, June 19, 2008.
14 CEDR, June 17, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-379001.
15 “Ingushetia Crisis Deepens: Observers Say Violence in Ingushetia’s Main Town Shows
Republic Is Spiraling out of Control, Caucasus Reporting Service, Institute of War and
Peace Reporting, February 6, 2008.
16 HRW. Russia: Stop ‘Dirty War’ Tactics in Ingushetia, Killings, Torture, Disappearances
in Chechnya-Style Counterinsurgency, June 25, 2008; Interfax, June 25, 2008.
local government crackdown on practicing Muslims.17 The International Crisis
Group NGO has claimed that the extremist Islamist group Sharia Jamaat is
responsible for a large share of the rising violence that has resulted in the killing of
hundreds of local officials in Dagestan. The recruitment efforts of Sharia Jamaat
benefit from the allegedly arbitrary and corrupt actions of local police and security
forces. In 2007, Sharia Jamaat endorsed Chechen rebel leader Umarov’s goal of
establishing a North Caucasian Emirate.18
Other Areas of the North Caucasus. The influence of Islamic
fundamentalism that embraces jihad reportedly has spread throughout the North
Caucasus, leading to the formation of terrorist groups in Chechnya, Dagestan,
Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachay-Cherkessia.19 According to testimony
by Shvedov, 700 to 900 rebels are active in various areas of the North Caucasus, even
though there are parts of Northern Caucasus where there are almost no rebels. He
warns that “the most important point [is not] the number of active rebels nowadays.
It’s an issue of the number of supporters among the civilian population.” Shvedov
states that the civilian population has become widely radicalized and is able to
quickly mobilize to join the rebels in attacks.20
In October 2005, Chechen guerrillas were joined by dozens of members of the
Yarmuk Islamic extremist group and others in attacks on government offices in
Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital of Nalchik and other areas. The president of
Kabardino-Balkaria, Arsen Kanokov, criticized local law enforcement officials for
“not taking timely preventive measures with regard to representatives of religious
organizations on the one hand, and [for treating] ordinary believers in an unjustifiably
harsh manner on the other.”21 By mid-2008, however, he voiced concern that
“Wahhabism” (a label attached by many officials to Islamic extremism and
disfavored Islamic religious practices) was increasing among the youth and might22
contribute to a rise in terrorism.
Gregory Shvedov has claimed that Islamic extremists in North Ossetia have
been targeting gambling clubs and in Karachay-Cherkessia they mostly have been23
targeting government-appointed religious leaders. According to a March 2008
17 “North Caucasus: Instability In Dagestan Spreads To South,” RFE/RL Russia Report,
February 15, 2008.
18 Russia’s Dagestan: Conflict Causes, International Crisis Group, June 3, 2008.
19 Mairbek Vatchagaev, “The Truth about the ‘Kataib al-Khoul’ Ossetian Jamaat,”
Chechnya Weekly, September 20, 2007.
20 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Briefing: Ingushetia, the New Hot
Spot in Russia’s North Caucasus, June 19, 2008.
21 “Kabardino-Balkaria: Leader Blames Law Enforcement Agencies for Harsh Treatment
of Devout Muslims,” Caucasus Reporting Service, Institute of War and Peace Reporting,
April 13, 2006.
22 CEDR, June 18, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950445.
23 Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe. Briefing: Ingushetia, the New Hot
report on the work of the Karachay-Cherkessia antiterrorist commission, “criminal
activity by a number of terrorist groups” had been prevented in 2007, and weapons
caches had been neutralized.24 In June 2008, the Federal Security Service and local
police stormed an apartment in the town of Kislovodsk and apprehended two
terrorists, and another was killed.25
Contributions to Instability
Many observers argue that economic distress is a factor in the rise of violence
in the North Caucasus. In the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic, the main industry, the
Tyrnyauz Mining Complex, is closed, as are many defense-related factories, and the
agricultural sector is in decline. Infrastructure such as roads and airports also is in
disrepair, and social services are inadequate.26 Dagestan has the most unemployment
and poverty in Russia, and major income inequality has fueled violence against
corrupt and wealthy officials.27 Ingushetia’s economy suffered greatly during the
Chechnya conflict, mainly from the influx of displaced persons which in effect
doubled the population during intense periods of fighting in 1995 and 2000.
According to Shvedov, the educational system in much of the North Caucasus is
getting worse and unemployment is increasing. Shvedov warns that the lack of
career prospects has contributed to growing support for “Wahhabi agendas” among
Ethnic tensions are another factor contributing to violence in the North
Caucasus. Besides those between Ossetians and the Ingush (mentioned above), in
Kabardino-Balkaria there are tensions between the Kabardins and Balkars, although
these are mitigated somewhat by their efforts to assert their rights vis-a-vis ethnic
Russians (who make up 25% of the population, according to the 2002 census). In
Karachay-Cherkessia, there are tensions between the Karachay and Nogai
populations on one hand, and the Cherkess and Abazin populations on the other. In
early 2006, the Putin administration abolished the Dagestani State Council, which
represented the 14 largest ethnic groups, and whose chairman (an ethnic Dargin)
served as the chief executive of the republic. The State Council had helped to
mollify ethnic tensions. Putin then appointed an ethnic Avar as the president of the
republic. Nonetheless, ethnic tensions have not led to large-scale violence in
In late May 2008, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin argued that the main problems
in Chechnya and the North Caucasus were poverty and unemployment, since the
region had rejected the “foreign” influences of extreme Wahhabism. He stated that
Spot in Russia’s North Caucasus, June 19, 2008.
24 CEDR, April 2, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950392.
25 ITAR-TASS, June 13, 2008.
26 “Kabardino-Balkaria Seeks To Break Out Of Economic Stagnation,” RFE/RL Russia
Report, February 01, 2008.
27 Russia’s Dagestan: Conflict Causes, p. 12.
the Russian government had launched a Program of Development for Southern
Russia to invest in infrastructure and social programs. While he argued that
Chechnya was becoming more peaceful, he admitted that there was instability in
Dagestan and Ingushetia. He attributed most of the problems in these latter two
regions to a mixture of clan grievances and economic distress.28 Conversely, Russian
analyst Andrei Smirnov has argued that in Dagestan, Islamic extremism, separatism,
and anti-Russianism are the major causes of violence, rather than poverty and
Russian analyst Aleksey Malashenko suggests that the North Caucasus region
is undergoing “re-traditionalization,” which will result in the consolidation of Sufi30
and other traditional forms of Islam as part of the political and social fabric of the
region. While Moscow and its local agents focus on combating visible elements of
“Wahabbism,”31 the region is becoming broadly Islamic and less integrated politically
and socially with the rest of Russia, Malashenko warns. He also suggests that to the
extent that political and Islamic leaders are able to retain their control in the North
Caucasus and ignore economic problems, Islamic extremist violence will continue.32
28 Le Monde, May 31, 2008. According to Putin’s Blueprint for the Socioeconomic
Development of the Russian Federation to 2020, “the organization of precautions against
terrorism and the effective counteraction of threats of terrorism is a special problem in the
Southern Economic Region [includes the North Caucasus]. This will be done primarily with
the aid of special programs to prevent broad-scale socioeconomic destabilization by creating
jobs, involving the active population in economic activity, and establishing the necessary
conditions for the steady growth of these territories and the encouragement of the migration
of the surplus population to regions experiencing a labor shortage. The realization of the
potential of the economic region will secure growth indicators of 124 percent in 2010,
160-170 percent in 2015, and 210-250 percent in 2020 in relation to the 2007 gross regional
product.” CEDR, May 6, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-313002.
29 Andrei Smirnov, “Understanding the Motivations behind the Dagestani Rebels,”
Chechnya Weekly, September 20, 2007.
30 According to the Encyclopedia Britannica Online, July 8, 2008, Sufism is a “mystical
Islamic belief and practice in which Muslims seek to find the truth of divine love and
knowledge through direct personal experience of God. It consists of a variety of mystical
paths that are designed to ascertain the nature of man and God and to facilitate the
experience of the presence of divine love and wisdom in the world.” Central concepts ofthth
Sufism were developed in the 8-12 centuries C.E. Three denominations (or Tariqahs) of
Sufism — the Naqshbandiya, Qadiriya, and Shazaliya — are prominent in the North
31 Wahabbism is a term used by some observers to identify a form of Sunni Islam dominant
in Saudi Arabia and Qatar that calls for a return to fundamental or pure principles of Islam.
The term is often used interchangeably with Salafism. As used in a derogatory sense by
some in Russia, it can refer to any non-approved practice of Islamic faith. Quintan
Wiktorowicz, “Anatomy of the Salafi Movement,” Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, Vol.
32 Aleksey Malashenko, “Islam and the State in Russia,” Russian Analytical Digest, July 2,
2008. See also Vakhit Akayev, “Conflicts Between Traditional and Non-Traditional Islamic
Trends: Reasons, Dynamics, and Ways to Overcome Them (Based on North Caucasian
Documents), Central Asia and the Caucasus, No. 2, 2008. Unlike Malashenko, Akayev
Reportedly, authorities have enlisted the assistance of Sufi Imams in Dagestan,
Ingushetia, and Chechnya to identify “Wahabbi” Muslims, who are then arrested,
killed, or disappear. Young Muslims may be targeted as “Wahabbis” if they end their
prayers at the mosque too soon (Sufis pray longer), attend the mosque frequently, or
attend early services at the mosque. In Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia,
and Adygea, where there are few Sufis and Islam does not have such deep roots as
elsewhere in the North Caucasus, Muslims allegedly may be targeted as “Wahabbis”
merely for attending the mosque or praying in public.33
Implications for Russia
Putin claimed in a speech to the State Council in February 2008 that foreign
elements had been responsible for the guerrilla attack on Dagestan in late 1999 that
heralded the beginning of the second Chechnya conflict. According to Putin, the
conflict “was a case of the undisguised incitement of separatists by outside forces
wishing to weaken Russia, and perhaps even to cause its collapse.”34 While he
remained vague, a “documentary” aired on a Russian state-owned television channel
in April 2008 alleged that France, Germany, Turkey, and the United States instigated
and supported Chechen separatism.35 Putin also has in recent years blamed
“international criminal networks of arms and drug traffickers,” for supporting
Chechen terrorists, and has been careful to assert that “terrorism must not be
identified with any religion or cultural tradition,” in order to sidestep criticism from
the Islamic world for his actions in the North Caucasus.36
Ethnic prejudice by Russians against North Caucasian migrants reportedly has
increased and has contributed to a rise in hate crimes. In the southern and eastern
parts of the Stavropol region, several riots targeting these migrants have been
reported. In late June 2008, the Congress of Peoples of the Caucasus sponsored a
rally in Moscow to combat what they claimed were racist views of Caucasians
propagated in the Russian press.37
In June 2008, Tatarstan Republic head Mintimer Shaymiyev publicly called for
the reinstatement of direct elections for regional/republic heads, which Putin had
changed to appointments in 2004. While Shaymiyev’s motives were unclear, some
observers argued in support of Shaymiyev that the lack of elections (including in the
does not view the counter-Wahabbism alliance of Russia’s central authorities with the
traditionalists as eventually unraveling.
33 Andrei Smirnov, “The Kremlin Intensifies Reprisals against Muslims in the North
Caucasus,” Chechnya Weekly, October 4, 2007.
34 CEDR, February 8, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-950541.
35 “Documentary Alleges West Sought Chechen Secession,” RFE/RL Russia Report, April
36 Jacques Lévesque, “Russia and the Muslim World: The Chechnya Factor and Beyond,”
Russian Analytical Digest, July 2, 2008.
37 BBC Monitoring, June 23, 2008.
North Caucasus republics) contributed to the alienation of the population and to anti-
The United States and several other countries and international organizations
have maintained that while Russia has the right to protect its citizenry from terrorist
attacks, it should not use “disproportionate” methods that violate the human rights
of innocent bystanders. They have objected to Russia’s 2006 counter-terrorism law,
which permits police and other security forces to declare a “counter-terrorism
operations regime” in a locality and to detain suspects for up to 30 days, search
homes, ban public assemblies, and restrict media activities without any pre-approval
by the courts or legislative oversight. As a result of this and other permissive laws
and government actions, HRW has argued that Russia’s security forces “believe they
may act with impunity when carrying out any operation related to
The European Court of Human Rights of the Council of Europe (COE) has ruled
in dozens of cases brought by Chechens that the Russian government used
indiscriminate force that resulted in civilian casualties and failed to properly
investigate and prosecute Russian personnel involved. Hundreds of cases remain to
be adjudicated. According to Russian human rights advocate and jurist Karinna
Moskalenko, the Russian government has paid damages awarded by the Court to the
plaintiffs, but has not taken the verdicts into account by reforming the justice
In June 2008, the Parliamentary Assembly of the COE appointed Dick Marty
a rapporteur on the North Caucasus to prepare a special report on the worsening
human rights situation in the region. He and other PACE members are scheduled to
visit Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan in September 2008. In 2009, the PACE
committee on member obligations plans to finalize a report on Russia’s compliance.
Implications for U.S. Interests
The Bush Administration has appeared in recent years to stress the threat of
terrorism in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, although there continues to be
criticism of Russian government human rights abuses in the region.41 In keeping
38 CEDR, June 17, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-4001; June 20, 2008, Doc. No. CEP-379003.
39 HRW. ‘As If They Fell From the Sky’: Counterinsurgency, Rights Violations, and
Rampant Impunity in Ingushetia, June 2008, p. 5. The counter-terrorism operations regime
appears often to be used by the security forces to justify human rights abuses. “Memorial
Says Will Complain to Prosecutors, Court about Activists’ Detention in Chechnya,”
Interfax, June 19, 2008.
40 Karinna Moskalenko, “Civil and Human Rights and the Judicial System in Today’s
Russia: A Legal Practioner’s View,” Carnegie Endowment, September 28, 2007.
41 The White House. Office of the Press Secretary. President Commemorates Veterans
with a stress on the terrorist threat in the North Caucasus, the State Department in
April 2008 reported that “the majority of terrorist attacks [in Russia during 2007]
continued to occur in the North Caucasus, where the pacification of much of
Chechnya has correlated with an increase in terrorism in Dagestan and Ingushetia....
There was evidence of a foreign terrorist presence in the North Caucasus with
international financial and ideological ties.”42 Similarly, in June 2008 at the 16th
session of the U.S.-Russia Working Group on Counter-terrorism, the two sides
mentioned that they “coordinated requests for evidence through the Mutual Legal
Assistance Treaty in a terrorism-related case involving material support of terrorist
activities, including financial support for such activity in Chechnya.”43 While
appearing to stress the threat of terrorism in the North Caucasus, the U.S.
Administration also devoted nearly one-fifth of the content of the latest human rights
report on Russia to the wide scope of government abuses in the North Caucasus
The Consolidated Appropriations Act for FY2008 (P.L.110-161) includes $8
million for humanitarian, conflict mitigation, human rights, civil society, and relief
and recovery assistance for Chechnya, Ingushetia, Dagestan, and North Ossetia (see
Table 1). The Act also repeats language used for several years that directs that 60%
of the assistance allocated to Russia will be withheld (excluding medical, human
trafficking, and Comprehensive Threat Reduction aid) until the President certifies
that Russia is facilitating full access to Chechnya for international NGOs providing
humanitarian relief to displaced persons.
The Administration’s budget request for FY2009 calls for $3.5 million for
conflict mitigation and reconciliation activities in the North Caucasus, “so as to help
stem the spread of violence and instability.” The request also calls for unspecified
amounts of assistance for the North Caucasus to promote economic opportunities,
Day, Discusses War on Terror, November 11, 2005. President Bush stated that some
“militants are found in regional groups, often associated with al Qaeda — paramilitary
insurgencies and separatist movements in places like Somalia, the Philippines, Pakistan,
Chechnya, Kashmir and Algeria.”
42 U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Terrorism 2007, April 2008. The Report
stated that it was “often difficult to characterize whether [violence in Ingushetia and
Dagestan was] the result of terrorism, political violence, or criminal activities” (p. 87).
43 U.S. Department of State. The United States-Russia Working Group on Counter-
terrorism: Joint Press Statement and Fact Sheet, June 20, 2008.
44 U.S. Department of State. Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2007, March
11, 2008. The most recent report by the State Department on its efforts to advance human
rights stated that “senior U.S. officials expressed concern to government leaders about the
conduct of Russian security services and the government of the Chechen Republic, which
was linked to abductions and disappearances of civilians. In meetings with federal and local
officials during a visit to the North Caucasus in December , the ambassador conveyed
US concerns and expressed US willingness to assist in ways that promote respect for the
rule of law.” U.S. Department of State. Supporting Human Rights and Democracy: The
U.S. Record 2006, April 5, 2007.
youth employment, health, sanitation, and community development, and to
discourage “the spread of extremist ideologies.”45
According to some international NGOs and the State Department, all foreign
NGOs face constraints by the authorities on their access and operations in Chechnya.
While almost all NGOs operating in Chechnya have offices there with local staff,
most continue to retain their main or at least branch offices outside the region.
However, if the security situation continues to improve in Chechnya and deteriorate
in Ingushetia and elsewhere in the North Caucasus, NGOs may consider moving
more operations to Chechnya. Access to Chechnya by international staff is strictly
controlled by the regional branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB), according
to reports, and NGOs must provide detailed monthly information on activities and
travel to the FSB and other authorities. At times, the local authorities have limited
or refused access, although reportedly the FSB has been more cooperative in recent
months. Local authorities in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan closely oversee
the finances and programs of foreign NGOs. In addition, the Russian Migration
Service and other federal offices require financial and program information.
45 U.S. Department of State. Congressional Budget Justification for Foreign Operations
FY2009, February 29, 2008.
Table 1. U.S. Assistance to Russia’s North Caucasus Region,
FY2007 and FY2008
Conflict Mitigation &Socio-Economic RecoveryIRC929,2112,200,000
Reco nc iliatio n
Poverty ReductionWorld Vision565,000200,000
I nfr astr uc tur e
Youth Exchange &IREX1,050,0001,300,000
TBD & Prog. Support — -748,000
Rule of Law & Human RightsJudicial Reform Chemonics30,000
Human RightsFaith, Hope, Love100,000
Tolerance RegionalBay Area Council75,000
Co unc i l s
Good GovernanceLocal GovernanceIUE250,000400,000
Public Finance & BudgetingCFP235,000230,000
Policy AdvocacyCIPE — -30,000
Political CompetitionElection MonitoringGolos20,000 — -
Civic ParticipationSustainable CommunityFSD400,000400,000
Community ConnectionsWorld Learning50,000400,000
Civil Society DevelopmentSRRC350,000400,000
In Southern Russia
Key Stone Program in theKey Stone340,000
Re gio n
Civil Society SupportIREX70,000
Social ServicesPsycho-Social Support forUNICEF200,000
Childern in the NC
Economic OpportunityMicrofinance SupportRMC332,000500,000
Rural Credit Coops andACDI/VOCA1,167,0001,100,000
T o tal 6 ,653,211 8,845,000
Source: U.S. Department of State, Office of the Coordinator for Assistance to Europe and Eurasia.
ACDI/VOCAAgricultural Cooperative Development International and Volunteers in
Overseas Cooperative Assistance
CFNOChildren’s Fund of North Ossetia
CFPCenter for Fiscal Policy
CIPECenter for International Private Enterprise
FSDFoundation for Sustainable Development
IFRCInternational Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent
IRCInternational Red Cross
IREXInternational Research and Exchanges Board
IUEInstitute for Urban Economics
JARJunior Achievement Russia
RMCRussian Microfinance Center
SRRCSouthern Regional Resource Center