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23 Aug, 2009 05:46

Unemployment and poverty beget terrorism in North Caucasus – Medvedev

The situation in the Caucasus region remains unstable with attacks on police and explosions taking place almost on a daily basis.

Many view the violence as a direct challenge to local authorities and an attempt to provoke security forces.

Chechen leadership challenged

Chechnya is a predominantly Muslim republic and the terrorist attacks happened on the eve of Ramadan, the most important holy month for Muslims. But this weekend, at a time when the faithful fast and pray, there is a noticeable hush over the Chechen capital Grozny with few people venturing out onto the city’s street. Four policemen were killed by suicide bombers on the streets of Grozny. One woman later died in hospital following Friday’s attacks.

“These explosions in Grozny are clearly a very direct challenge to the leadership of [Chechen president] Mr Kadyrov but it is also a challenge to President Medvedev, because Chechnya has been depicted by the Kremlin as a success story in the region,” stated president of the New Eurasia Foundation, Andrey Kortunov.

Just a couple of years ago Chechnya was a “no-go” area. The situation has improved. But this attack shows stability is fragile.

In April this year the decision was made to lift anti-terrorism restrictions which had been in place for a decade.

Since the end of the second conflict, Chechnya has witnessed steady progress in the rebuilding of the republic.

Chechen president Kadyrov confirmed that “we received information that some people were plotting a terrorist acts. Our Interior Ministry tried to prevent it and as a result militants blew themselves up.”
Kadyrov repeated once again that in Chechnya "law order and stability will always prevail.”

The Ingush situation

Neighbouring Ingushetia was also shaken by a suicide bombing this week.

A truck packed with explosives rammed through the gate of the local police headquarters before detonating. At least 20 were killed and over 160 were injured, including children. Many are still missing in what was the deadliest attack in Ingushetia for five years.

“I was sleeping when the blast wave threw me out of my apartment,” remembers local resident Magomed Barakhoev, “I don’t remember anything, I opened my eyes in hospital and saw many injured.”

The Russian prosecutor’s office claims the attack was most probably revenge for work carried out by police against militants. Another motive could be an attempt to further destabilize the situation in the region.

The Ingush president has only now just returned to his republic two months after a suicide bomber rammed a car into his motorcade. His extensive injuries required treatment in Moscow. Doctors told Yunus-bek Yevkurov to take another month to complete his recovery, but he decided he was needed back in his office, due to the deteriorating security situation.

“The situation in the region is tense. It's a hard blow to the republic,” acknowledged Ingush president. “Of course we will continue fighting those who don't want to lay down their arms.”

Uprooting the evil

After Monday’s suicide attack President Dmitry Medvedev criticized the failings of the Ingush Interior ministry and fired its chief. He also outlined what he believes the causes of the violence are.

“The conditions for developing the racketeering and religious extremism came after the collapse of the Soviet Union,” Medvedev said.

“And its roots are in the living conditions, in unemployment, poverty,” added President, “in clans that do not care about people and are only busy making money, fighting among each other and spreading corruption within our law enforcement authorities.”

“Uprooting these problems is our task,” he concluded.

President Kadyrov has managed to bring relative peace to this Southern Russian Republic. However the intensive security measures have pushed many of the militants out of Chechnya into Dagestan and Ingushetia, where they have caused more problems. Analysts believe the authorities need to focus their attention now on those neighboring republics in order to stabilize the whole region.