About us   Editorial Board   Advisory Board   Contact us  


In this section, we publish the weekly analysis of the major events taking place in the Caucasus and beyond. The Caucasus Update is written by our Senior Editor Alexander Jackson. Click here to subscribe.

Tackling the North Caucasus Insurgency: Development or Rhetoric?, CU Issue 61, January 11, 2010

The failure to tackle the persistent North Caucasus has left the Russian government in search of a strategy. Repeated terrorist attacks – such as the recent suicide bombing at a Dagestan police station which left 6 dead and over a dozen injured (BBC, January 6) – prompt tough, uncompromising statements from the Kremlin.

One can be forgiven for a sense of déjà vu with regard to these reactions. Officials are fired or publicly chastised; firm declarations are made about the need to “liquidate” the rebels; new counter-terrorist operations are launched; the insurgents are dismissed as bandits and criminals, possessing “neither nationality nor a human face” (in the words of Russia’s Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev (RIA Novosti, January 8)).

This is, perhaps, not so different from counter-terrorist rhetoric anywhere else in the world. However, the constant need to repeat such statements shows that the methods being used by Russia in the North Caucasus are evidently not successful. Years of ‘tough measures’ have achieved nothing except to intensify the violence; stating simply that “As far as bandits are concerned. . .They simply need to be eliminated” is adding fuel to the fire.

This is unfortunate, since at times Moscow does acknowledge the need for more sophisticated methods to end the insurgency. As well as his statement about eliminating bandits, President Medvedev also stressed the need “to create a normal living environment” in the North Caucasus, in particular improving the socio-economic environment (Kremlin.ru, January 8).

The need to improve the region’s economic prospects has been highlighted repeatedly, including in President Medvedev’s address to the Federal Assembly in November. Similarly in a December 24 television broadcast the President recognised the links between poverty and violence. He reiterated his declaration from the Federal Assembly address that a special official would be appointed to coordinate development programs for Russia’s southern republics (RIA Novosti, December 24 2009).

Such an appointment is sorely needed. Accurate data on the region’s unemployment rate is difficult to establish (which, in itself, illustrates the levels of corruption and grey economic activity there), but most estimates put the unemployment rate at between 40% and 60% across the region.

Some analysts, such as Arbakhan Magomedov, argue that the employment rate (specifically with regard to Dagestan) is significantly higher than official figures indicate, due to the region’s significant grey economy and the large number of economic migrants (Russian Analytical Digest, 21 December 2009). However, the lack of formal economic opportunities, and the social infrastructure that comes with it, is clearly a driver behind the insurgency. Illicit economic activity contributes to a shadow state, encourages corruption and undermines the sustainability of economic development.

It is believed that Mikhail Gutseriyev, the Ingush billionaire whose business dealings were being investigated by the Russian authorities, has been let off in return for massive economic investment into his homeland (RFE/RL, January 10). This would be welcome.

However, more money across the region (not just in Ingushetia) for ‘visible’ economic development, infrastructure, social services, and job creation programs is necessary, but not sufficient. Retaining the current aggressive counter-insurgency strategy - which regularly sees the arbitrary detention, harassment and even execution of innocent civilians – and failing to tackle endemic corruption will ensure that economic assistance is either wasted or inadequate to overcome other problems.

In any case, there is no guarantee that the economic assistance called for will be delivered at all. In September the North Caucasus regional envoy, Dmitri Kozak, stated that the ongoing recession would force the federal government to shift funds earmarked for the North Caucasus away to other regions of Russia (Eurasia Daily Monitor, September 16 2009). This is significant, since the region’s republics are hugely dependent on federal subsidies for their budget.

In this respect, President Medvedev’s call for more financial support for the region seems an empty promise. Suspending criminal charges against Mr Gutseriyev in exchange for his private investment appears to be a sign of desperation by Moscow.

Nevertheless, as the Russian economy gradually improves, primarily as a result of higher gas demand and oil prices, the Kremlin may feel able to increase the financial assistance it can provide to its southern republics. However, the economic help will then most likely be deployed in much the same way as military force: in huge, mis-directed amounts which focus on the wrong targets and prove counter-productive.

The rhetorical weight now being given to social and economic development is designed to complement, rather than replace, the Putin-era tough talk of wiping out bandits. It suggests that someone in the Kremlin, at least, is trying to tackle the causes, rather than the symptoms, of the insurgency. But without deep-cutting political reforms, tackling corruption, addressing the issue of clan grievances, preventing religious harassment and – above all – curbing the use of aggressive, counterproductive security tactics, Moscow cannot prevent the terrible procession of terrorist attacks.

"Tackling the North Caucasus Insurgency: Development or Rhetoric?, CU Issue 61, January 11, 2010" | 1 comment | Search Discussion
The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

No Comments Allowed for Anonymous, please register

by Rick on Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:52 am
A twofold feeling. On the one hand there is federal funding for the region, indicative support for what is called "bread and circuses." On the other .. for handouts region is stagnating. It does not develop fully. Russia is doing in Northern Caucasus an outskirts, which they throw sops to shut up dissatisfied. But what is a dual-purpose: I do not see initiatives of Caucasians for full development. Such a feeling that they are already accustomed to living by helping the federal government.

Best regards, RcSt
classifieds [claz.org"]
craigslist search [claz.org"]
free classifieds ads [claz.org"]


  Caspian Compromise Backfires for Russia and Iran, CU Issue 83, November 24, 2010
  Turkey in a Tight Spot on Missile Defense, CU Issue 82, November 11, 2010
  The OSCE and Kyrgyzstan’s Election, CU Issue 81, October 30, 2010
  Unblocking the US-Azerbaijan Relationship, CU Issue 80, October 07, 2010
  Nabucco Pipeline: Quo Vadis?, CU Issue 79, September 30, 2010
  Russia tightens its grip in the South Caucasus, CU Issue 78, August 23, 2010
  Armenian Politics: Rigidity Versus Flexibility, CU Issue 77, August 10, 2010
  Russia and Georgia: Ready To Talk?, CU Issue 76, July 21, 2010
  Can the US walk and chew gum at the same time?, CU Issue 75, July 9, 2010
  The Kyrgyzstan Crisis – A Qualified Success for Turkish Diplomacy?, CU Issue 74, June 24, 2010
  Brussels downgrades the Caucasus, CU Issue 73, June 07, 2010
  NATO’s New Strategic Concept and the Caspian Region, CU Issue 72, June 01, 2010
  Joe Biden and European Security, CU Issue 71, May 13, 2010
  Behind the US-Azerbaijan row, CU Issue 70, May 6, 2010
  Turkey and Iran: The risks of failure, CU Issue 69, April 30, 2010
  Kazakhstan, the OSCE, and the crisis in Kyrgyzstan, CU Issue 68, April 19, 2010
  The Implications of the Moscow Bombings, CU Issue 67, April 12, 2010
  Iran Manoeuvres for a role in Karabakh, CU Issue 66, April 5, 2010
  The EU and Abkhazia: Between a rock and a hard place, CU Issue 65, March 16, 2010
  Fallout from the US ‘Genocide’ vote, CU Issue 64, March 9, 2010
  Ukraine's elections and future of GUAM, CU Issue 63, February 10, 2010
  Less Democracy, More Security: Kazakhstan and the OSCE, CU Issue 62, January 18, 2010
  Tackling the North Caucasus Insurgency: Development or Rhetoric?, CU Issue 61, January 11, 2010
  The Caspian Region in 2010, CU Issue 60, January 4, 2010
  The Caspian Region in 2010, CU Issue 59, December 31, 2009
  The Turkmenistan-China Pipeline Changes the Energy Balance, CU Issue 58, December 21, 2009
  Russia’s European Security Treaty, CU Issue 57, December 7, 2009
  The ‘Kidnapping War’ in Georgia and its Implications, CU Issue 56, December 3, 2009
  Azerbaijan Shifts its Energy Priorities, CU Issue 55, November 23, 2009
  The South Caucasian States and Afghanistan, CU Issue 54, November 11, 2009
  Is Turkey turning East?, CU Issue 53, November 2, 2009
  What is Russia’s Gameplan for Iran?, CU Issue 52, October 26, 2009
  Turkey, Armenia and Azerbaijan: Where Next?, CU Issue 51, October 19, 2009
  The Armenians of Georgia: A New Flashpoint in the Caucasus?, CU Issue 50, October 12, 2009
  Turkey’s EU Membership: Will The ‘Armenian Opening’ Help?, CU Issue 49, October 5, 2009
  The Missile Defence Shift: Implications for the Caucasus, CU Issue 48, September 22, 2009
  Rising Tensions in the Black Sea , CU Issue 47, September 14, 2009
  Armenia, Turkey, and Azerbaijan: The Clock Is Ticking, CU Issue 46, September 7, 2009
  The Battle of the Bases in Central Asia, CU Issue 45, August 31, 2009
  Russia, Israel, and the S-300s, CU Issue 44, August 24, 2009
  The motivations behind Turkey's 'Kurdish Initiative', CU Issue 43, August 17, 2009
  The Implications of the Turkmenistan-Azerbaijan Dispute, CU Issue 42, August 10, 2009
  What has changed since the August war?, CU Issue 41, August 3, 2009
  The Internal Dynamics of Armenia’s Karabakh Policy, CU Issue 40, July 20, 2009
  Gazprom’s Baku Triumph, CU Issue 39, July 06, 2009
  Ingushetia: The New Chechnya?, CU Issue 38, June 29, 2009
  Georgias Economy - A Matter for Diplomats, CU Issue 37, June 22, 2009
  ‘Progress’ In The Nagorno-Karabakh Peace Process, CU Issue 36, June 08, 2009
  Iran's Azerbaijanis and the presidential election, CU Issue 35, June 01, 2009
  Nabucco and South Stream - The Race Heats Up, CU Issue 34, May 25, 2009
  China and Central Asia, CU Issue 33, May 19, 2009
  Russia, Georgia, and NATO - A Bad Week, CU Issue 32, May 11, 2009
  The Obama Administration’s Emerging Caucasus Policy, CU Issue 31, April 27, 2009
  Integration and Division in the Caspian Sea, CU Issue 30, April 20, 2009
  The Turkish-Armenian Rapprochement - Implications for the South Caucasus, CU Issue 29, April 13, 2009
  Turkey's local elections and Armenian issue, CU Issue 28, April 6, 2009
  Is There Life Left In The Nabucco Project?, CU Issue 27, March 30, 2009
  Problems and Prospects for Russian Military Reform, CU Issue 26, March 23, 2009
  Russia and Georgia: Not back to war, CU Issue 25, March 16, 2009
  Armenia: Heading towards crisis?, CU Issue 24, March 9, 2009
  Drug trafficking in the Caucasus, CU Issue 23, February 23, 2009
  Russian-led military block: A real counterweight to NATO?, CU Issue 22, February 16, 2009
  Are the International Missions in Georgia still relevant?, CU Issue 21, February 9, 2009
  Israel and Azerbaijan: Baku’s Balancing Act, CU Issue 20, February 2, 2009
  The North Caucasus in 2009: A Bleak Forecast, CU Issue 19, January 26, 2009
  The Military Balance in Nagorno-Karabakh, CU Issue 18, January 19, 2009
  Russia, Iran, and Barack Obama in 2009, Part II, CU Issue 17, January 12, 2009
  Looking forward to 2009 in the Caucasus and beyond, Part I, CU Issue 16, January 5, 2009
  The opportunities and the risks of NATO’s new supply routes, CU Issue 15, December 22, 2008
  The Black Sea Ambitions of Armenia, CU Issue 14, December 15, 2008
  Another Small Step for Nabucco, CU Issue 13, December 8, 2008
  Will Saakashvili survive politically?, CU Issue 12, December 1, 2008
  The latest fashion: conflict mediation, CU Issue 11, November 24, 2008
  The Baku Energy Summit, CU Issue 10, November 17, 2008
  Obama and the Caucasus, CU Issue 9, November 10, 2008
  Kazakhstan's oil options, CU Issue 8, November 3, 2008
  Is the Minsk Group being sidelined?, CU Issue 7, October 27, 2008
  Gas and oil developments in the Caspian region, CU Issue 6, October 20, 2008
  Where next for the Georgian peace process?, CU Issue 5, October 8, 2008
  Unrest in the North Caucasus, CU Issue 4, September 29, 2008
  Saakashvili's future, CU Issue 3, September 22, 2008
  Iran after the Georgian War, CU Issue 2, September 15, 2008
  Football diplomacy, CU Issue 1, September 8, 2008
  © 2006-2010 CRIA
  All rights reserved
About us
Editorial Board
Advisory Board
Our Authors
Current Issue
Back Issues
Caucasus Update
Call for papers
Submit a paper
Contact Us
Join us on Facebook