Medvedev holds security meeting in North Caucasus

President Dmitry Medvedev has held a meeting with heads of the North Caucasus region in the Russian Republic of Dagestan.

As he was traveling to the republic’s capital Makhachkala by helicopter, the chief of the Federal Security Service Aleksandr Bortnikov and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev briefed the president about the security situation in the area.

At the meeting Bortnikov reported that the organizers of the blasts in the Moscow Metro and Dagestan's Kizlyar have been identified and several suspects detained.

“We are now checking which specific armed groups are linked to the North Caucasus,” Itar-Tass quotes the FSB chief as saying.

President Medvedev said a series of tough measures should follow the acts of terror.

“Policemen died defending ordinary citizens from scum who use the dirtiest and most disgusting methods to kill people. The range of measures to fight terrorism should be widened. They must not only be effective but also tough and cruel to prevent future terror attacks. Terrorists must be punished,” stressed Medvedev, outlining several major tasks.

“We have five main tasks. Firstly, to strengthen law enforcement and security bodies, the Interior Ministry, the Federal Security Service and other agencies, and to help the courts. Secondly, we must continue to deliver precision strikes against terrorists and their hideouts. Thirdly, we should help those who decided to break away from the bandits. Fourthly, we should develop the economic and social sphere, educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. And finally, we should strengthen the moral and spiritual component, help religious leaders. Given those five components, we will succeed.”

The meeting follows twin blasts in the Moscow Metro on March 29 and in Dagestan on March 31. The terrorist acts in the Russian capital claimed 40 people and injured dozens, while in Dagestan twelve people were killed and more than 20 injured.

Chechen warlord Doku Umarov has claimed responsibility for the attacks. Although the investigation is underway and information is still being confirmed, Vyacheslav Nikonov, head of the Unity for Russia Foundation, says the warlord is a real threat.

“I think Doku Umarov is a more legendary figure than Osama Bin Laden. He is everywhere and he is nowhere. For me there is no doubt he is part of the international terrorist chain. And, of course, suicide bombing is not a Chechen national tradition. That is the tradition brought in by the Wahhabis, by the most extreme groups which usually operate outside Russia,” Nikonov told RT.

President Medvedev traveled to Dagestan because he most likely wanted to demonstrate solidarity with the Dagestani people who suffered a terrorist attack in the city of Kizlyar yesterday, believes Aleksandr Pikaev, a political analyst from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations.

“The president used his visit to press local officials and law enforcement agency to combat terrorism more efficiently and to concentrate on preventive measures which would be aimed at prevention of new terrorist attacks at all parts of Russia including Moscow,” Pikaev said.

Watch the full interview with Aleksandr Pikaev

downloadembed

The head of the investigation department at the Russian Newsweek magazine, Ilya Arkhipov, sees similar motives behind Medvedev’s visit.

“It was a very smart move by the Russian president to go to the North Caucasus to show that Russia's government has no fear of visiting the region, and communicate with local authorities and ordinary citizens," Arkhipov told RT.

Watch the full interview with Ilya Arkhipov

downloadembed

Irina Kobrinskaya from the Institute of World Economy and International Relations doesn’t expect immediate results following Medvedev’s visit to Dagestan.

“There has to be a carrot and a stick, as always in theses situations. The carrot is the investments, special programs for development of the region, cultural programs to calm down the ethnic tension, especially in Dagestan. But on the other hand the stick should be more severe,” Kobrinskaya told RT.

She added that she doesn’t see any connection between the appointment of Aleksandr Khloponin as the new Presidential Representative in the North Caucasus.

“We know that there is a new manager appointed [by the government] for the North Caucasus. But it just may be this critical mass of attacks, which were concentrated in the region, have now spilled over to Central Russia,” Kobrinskaya said.

Watch the full interview with Irina Kobrinskaya

downloadembed