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23 Jul, 2009 16:49

“Russia cannot allow collapse of power in the Caucasus” – Medvedev

That is what Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday, commenting on the security situation in southern Russia, which has deteriorated in recent months.

“We can’t afford to relax or show terrorists that their actions can paralyze the authorities and prevent them from making decisions,” Medvedev said. “This can’t be allowed to happen anywhere, and especially in the Caucasus.”

“You know how the powers that display any weakness are treated in the Caucasus: they are trampled on,” the Russian president added. “This is unacceptable, because it can only lead to a collapse.”

Russia’s Northern Caucasus has recently seen a wave of violence, with state authorities, members of the security forces and other officials having been murdered or attacked.

Sergey Bastrykin, the head of the Investigation Committee of Russia’s Prosecutor’s Office, stated that criminals’ attempts to destabilize the situation in the region are behind all this.

Chronicles of recent assaults

– Adilgerey Magomedtagirov, Minister of Internal Affairs of Dagestan since 1998, shot dead by a sniper at a wedding in the Republic’s capital Makhachkala on May 5;

– Aza Gazgireeva, a deputy head of the Supreme Court of Ingushetia, shot dead on May 10.

– Seyfutdin Kaziakhmedov, a deputy chief of the Investigation Department of Dagestan, was killed in May. He was coordinating investigation work on the most serious acts of terrorism, and his murder is believed to be connected with his professional activities.

– Former deputy prime minister of Ingushetia, Bashir Aushev, killed on the 13 of June.

– On June 22, Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was seriously injured during an assassination attempt. The attack occurred when a suicide bomber drove his car, laden with 70 kilograms of explosives, into the Ingush president’s armored Mercedes 221. The blast flung the president’s vehicle off the road and set it on fire. At the present time, the wounded head of the Republic is receiving medical treatment in Moscow.

– Most recently, the body of a human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, who was kidnapped in mid-July in Chechnya, was found in the neighboring Republic of Ingushetia with two bullet wounds.

According to Bastrykin, today the Northern Caucasus is the most complicated region for law-enforcement authorities in Russia. Although crime has decreased by 8% across Russia, the situation in the Northern Caucasus is quite the opposite. In the past five months, according to Bastrykin, “It has risen by 9% in North Ossetia-Alania, by 10% in the Chechen Republic and by 22% in Ingushetia.”

Possible reasons

Apart from the vast illegal arsenals and scattered groups of bandits still remaining in post-conflict Chechnya and the neighboring republics, low living standards appear to be among the main reasons underlying constant outbreaks of violence.

“Living standards remain especially low, while unemployment-related issues are being solved ineffectively,” Bastrykin said.

“All this stimulates crime,” added the head of the Investigation Committee of Russia’s Prosecutor’s Office. “And I would also draw your attention to the fact that such a kind of situation is used by various foreign criminal organizations with terrorist and religious-extremist ideologies, as well as those involved in illegal trade.”