Mairbek Vatchagaev

Dr. Mairbek Vatchagaev is a noted Chechen historian and political analyst on the North Caucasus and a former senior ranking official in the Chechen government of Aslan Maskhadov. A native of Chechnya, Dr. Vatchagaev is currently a Non-Resident Senior Fellow at The Jamestown Foundation and a regular contributor to the Jamestown publication Eurasia Daily Monitor where he writes about developments in the North Caucasus. He has published 56 articles on the history of Chechnya and Sufism in the North-Caucasus; 285 articles related to political science on the North Caucasus and Russia; including five books on the history and religion in Chechnya and the North Caucasus. In 1997 he published a book on the first 100 days in office of the first ever democratically elected President of Chechnya—Aslan Maskhadov. He is also the author of the book, “Chechnya in the 19th Century Caucasian Wars.”

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Articles by Mairbek Vatchagaev

Salafists in Ingushetia Emerging as a Mainstream Force

Ingushetia’s governor, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, recently declared: “There are no Wahhabis [Salafists] or Wahhabi mosques in Ingushetia; it is time for everyone to realize that! Those differences that we have today,

Russian Security Services Target Muslim Cleric

Police in Moscow this week arrested the imam of one of the city’s mosques, Makhmud Velitov. The authorities accused the cleric of “public justification of terrorism” as described in Article

Russian Authorities Destroy Southern Dagestani Jamaat

Russian security services conducted a special operation, on June 16–17, against militants in southern Dagestan’s Suleiman-Stalsky and Tabasaran districts. During the operation, the security forces located ten armed men in

Rebels in Ingushetia Step up Their Activities

The end of May–beginning of June turned out to be quite a tense period in Ingushetia, with the armed Islamist opposition suddenly becoming more active than in previous years. The

Insurgents in Chechnya Down, but Not Out

Over the past several years, there have not been many reports from Chechnya regarding insurgent activities in the republic. But while the Chechen government claims the republic has overcome the

Lezgin Leader Assassinated in Dagestan

The Lezgin ethnic group has been divided between southern Dagestan, in Russia, and northern Azerbaijan since the breakup of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR). Although the division between

Are Chechen Special Forces Fighting in Syria?

After the Kremlin denied having ground troops in Syria, the Russian leadership was surprised by Ramzan Kadyrov’s statement that Chechen special forces were fighting in the Middle East against the

Insurgency in the Northwest Caucasus Remains Active

A strange armed clash that took place in Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, in mid-January had unexpected results for government forces. The authorities introduced a counterterrorist operation regime in the

Is It Too Early to Write off the Caucasus Emirate?

With the start of a new year, the situation involving the militarized Islamic jamaat of Kabarda, Balkaria and Karachai (KBK), which operates in two North Caucasian republics, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia,

Ingush Jamaat Loses Another Amir

On October 31, government forces killed the leader of the Ingush jamaat, Beslan Makhauri, better known as Amir Muhammad. Makhauri was killed along with another insurgent, named Ilyas Vedzizhev, in

Russian Authorities Launch Crackdown on Hizb ut-Tahrir

Russian authorities have unrelentingly cracked down on the Islamic organization Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami (The Party of Islamic Liberation). Indeed, Russia’s Supreme Court first designated the Hizb ut-Tahrir a terrorist organization

Insurgents in Ingushetia Remain Active

Over the past ten years, the Russian government has repeatedly claimed that the situation in the North Caucasus has stabilized (Regnum.ru, October 14). Speaking at a meeting of the National

Is Islamic State Operating in Chechnya?

A recent special operation in Grozny against suspected militants of the so-called Islamic State (IS) took Chechnya’s residents and analysts who follow the situation in the republic by surprise. Readers

Dagestan Increasingly Resembles Chechnya

Dagestan is the largest republic of the North Caucasus and, at the same time, the region’s most unstable because of the frequent attacks by the armed Islamic opposition movement. The

Southern Russia Mobilizes Against Islamic State

Russian news agencies reported that both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechnya’s governor, Ramzan Kadyrov, expressed their condolences to the leadership of Iraq for the terrorist attack in Khan Bani

Is Ramazan Abdulatipov Under Attack?

Hardly any other political figure in the contemporary history of the North Caucasus can rival Ramazan Abdulatipov when it comes to the number of rumors about his resignation since the

Islam Is Seeking a Greater Role in Russia

Since the second half of the 18th century, when Catherine the Great realized that Russia would not be able to Christianize the Muslims in its conquered territories, the Russian government

Chechens React to Boston Marathon Bombing Verdict

Immediately after Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was arrested for carrying out the deadly bombing of the 2013 Boston Marathon, multiple support groups mushroomed online, particularly on Russian social media. In the two

North Caucasus Builds More and Bigger Mosques

After the demise of the Soviet state with its atheist policies, a massive process of rebuilding old and building new mosques started across the North Caucasus. Today, Chechnya has nearly

Dagestani Militants Experience Series of Setbacks

After Ramzan Kadyrov’s statements authorizing Chechen police to shoot to kill police officers from outside Chechnya who appear there without notifying the republican authorities (see EDM, April 27), the governor

Why Kadyrov Has Fought With Bastrykin

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has become one of Russia’s most quoted persons for the second time since last December. After the incursion into Grozny by a small group of militants

Caucasus Emirate Amir Killed in Dagestan

Observers who have followed the evolution of Russia’s campaign against the Islamic armed resistance in the North Caucasus over the past 16 years probably noticed that Moscow has no strategy

Another Chechen Émigré Murdered in Turkey

Istanbul has experienced another series of murders of Chechens who fled to Turkey from persecution back home during the second Russian-Chechen war. After the start of that war in the

The North Caucasus in 2014: The Year in Review

In the past year, significant changes took place in the armed Islamic resistance in the North Caucasus. The Chechen factor proved to be a problem that cut across international boundaries

Insurgency Reemerges in Kabardino-Balkaria

Nine years since the militants of Shamil Basaev and Anzor Astemirov ransacked Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria (RIA Novosti, September 7, 2013), on October 13, 2005, this republic remains a

BRIEFS

REAPPEARANCE OF ‘SLAIN’ DAGESTANI MILITANT DISPROVES FSB CLAIMS Mairbek Vatchagaev Practically every month, Moscow boastfully announces that it has killed a leader of one of the territorial branches of the

September 2014 Briefs

ABU MUHAMMAD NAMED NEW DAGESTANI AMIR OF CAUCASUS EMIRATE Mairbek Vatchagaev Earlier this year Abu Muhammad, who became the new head of the Caucasus Emirate in the North Caucasus in

BRIEFS

MODI GOVERNMENT REVEALS NEW INITIATIVES AGAINST THE NAXALITE INSURGENCY Kathryn Basinsky While Narendra Modi, India’s new prime minister, has been in office a little over 100 days, a number of

Chechen Fighters Make Waves in Syria

Chechens have been quite active in the ranks of the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past two to three years. Chechens have formed several groups that

Chechen Fighters Make Waves in Syria

Chechens have been quite active in the ranks of the armed opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past two to three years. Chechens have formed several groups that

The Crimean Wolf in the Steppes of Syria

Analysts have suspected the involvement of Crimean Tatars in the Syrian civil war since 2012. These suspicions were confirmed in 2013. Early that year, the website of North Caucasian jihadists

The Islamic Factor in Crimea

Russia’s Anschluss of Crimea last month was carried out according to all the standard procedures of the Third Reich. Like Nazi Germany and the Sudetenland in 1938, Moscow captured Crimea

Will Crimea Become Russia’s New Chechnya?

With tensions rising around the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, observers are increasingly drawing parallels to Chechnya. Crimea is an autonomous region within Ukraine—as Chechnya is within Russia—and has peculiarities that

Will Crimea Become Russia’s New Chechnya?

With tensions rising around the Ukrainian peninsula of Crimea, observers are increasingly drawing parallels to Chechnya. Crimea is an autonomous region within Ukraine—as Chechnya is within Russia—and has peculiarities that

Moscow Plays the Chechen Card in Ukraine

For the past several days, those hostile to the Ukrainians protesting against President Viktor Yanukovich on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv spread rumors alleging the presence of Chechens in

Moscow Plays the Chechen Card in Ukraine

For the past several days, those hostile to the Ukrainians protesting against President Viktor Yanukovich on Maidan Nezalezhnosti (Independence Square) in Kyiv spread rumors alleging the presence of Chechens in

Chechens Among the Syrian Rebels: Small in Number, but Influential

The situation of Syria’s Chechen community is changing rapidly. Three commanders—Emir Muslim (Muslim Margoshvili), Emir Seifullah (Ruslan Machaliashvili) and Emir Abu-Musaaba (Musa)—joined forces on October 31 (http://usudusham.com/ru/2013/11/1004/#more-1004), resulting in the

Chechens Among the Syrian Rebels: Small in Number, but Influential

The situation of Syria’s Chechen community is changing rapidly. Three commanders—Emir Muslim (Muslim Margoshvili), Emir Seifullah (Ruslan Machaliashvili) and Emir Abu-Musaaba (Musa)—joined forces on October 31 (http://usudusham.com/ru/2013/11/1004/#more-1004), resulting in the

Tensions Rise Between Authorities and Muslims in Stavropol Region

Soon after outlawing the Russian version of the Koran translated by the well-known scholar Elmir Kuliev (http://kavpolit.com/zapret-kulieva-ne-zapret-perevoda-a-zapret-korana/), it became apparent that the Russian authorities had opted for the most uncompromising

Did Surkov Step Down, or Was He Forced to Step Down?

In his childhood, Vladislav Surkov, an ethnic Chechen by birth, initially had his father’s surname, Dudaev—a surname that is related to the Zandak teip (clan) (www.anticompromat.org/surkov/surkbio.html). However, with Russian first

Kumyk Leader Murdered in Dagestan

The Kumyks are the third largest ethnic group in Dagestan. According to official data for 2010, an estimated 422,000 Kumyks lived in the mountainous republic (www.webcitation.org/616BvJEEv), ranking third after the

The Magnitsky List and Chechnya

Lenin’s classic declaration on the 1917 revolution—“Comrades! The socialist revolution that the Bolsheviks were talking about for so long has come true!”—can be used to describe the Magnitsky Act. Yet,

The Yarmuk Jamaat and the Sochi Olympics

The Yarmuk jamaat in Kabardino-Balkarian and the Karachay jamaat in Karachaevo-Cherkessia are among the jamaats that cause the Russian security services the most concern. The Karachay jamaat is currently in

Is Kremlin Moving to Replace Ingush Leader?

President Vladimir Putin recently signed into law legislation that allows Russian regions to choose their form of election for governor. They can now do it either through popular elections or

Dagestan’s Conflict Grinds On

On March 9, four people were killed in three different parts of Dagestan. One incident took place in Khasavyurt district, which is predominantly populated by Chechens, Avars and Kumyks. Another

Dagestan Is Enmeshed in Another Round of Ethnic Confrontation

Following the Kumyks, who held a rally in the city of Pyatigorsk on February 10 (http://www.chernovik.net/content/lenta-novostey/v-pyatigorske-proshyol-sezd-kumykskogo-naroda), Chechen residents of Dagestan have also come out into the streets to protest. The

No Letup in Insurgent Violence in Dagestan

On February 14, Russian Deputy General Prosecutor Ivan Sydoruk publicly admitted that Dagestan ranked first in the Russian Federation in terms of the number of crimes committed. That same day,

Dagestan: New President, Old Problems

As was expected, Dagestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov has stepped down. Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a decree on January 28 ending Magomedov’s term, saying that the move was made “at

Violence in Dagestan Accelerated in 2012

At the start of 2013 it makes sense to summarize the events of the previous year. The official figures from 2012 suggest that the Republic of Dagestan today is the

Violence in Ingushetia Continues Upswing

Early December saw multiple victims of the armed confrontation in the North Caucasus, as had the previous weeks of this year. According to independent sources, eight people were killed, one

Head of World Union of Muslim Scholars Visits Dagestan

Having failed to defeat the armed resistance, the Dagestani authorities decided to look for help by finding favorable interpretations of Sharia law among foreign scholars. The republican authorities certainly received

Moscow Recognizes Hizb-ut-Tahrir Operates Inside Russia

It has been 460 years since the first Muslim groups were incorporated into the Russian state (www.prlib.ru/history/pages/item.aspx?itemid=268), yet Moscow has not advanced at all toward better understanding the Islamic world.

The ‘Quietude’ of Kabardino-Balkaria

Once a renowned resort republic, Kabardino-Balkaria nowadays is more often mentioned in the news not as a resort region known across Russia, but as a territory in which counter-terrorism operations

Events in Dagestan Force the Kremlin to Become More Active

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev visited Dagestan on October 2 (www.ria.ru/economy/20121002/764528570.html). While there, Medvedev stated that Moscow was prepared to inject additional cash into the North Caucasus in order to

Moscow Develops Dagestan Along the Model of Chechnya

Against the backdrop of a presumably pacified Chechnya, the neighboring republic of Dagestan remains only barely under the government’s control, even formally. In contrast to Chechnya, the Kremlin has stumbled

Moscow tries to tame Islam in Chechnya

Ever since Chechnya was conquered in May 1859, Russia has tried out various ways to weaken the role of Islam there. It was Islam that became the banner of the

Moscow Tries to Tame Islam in Chechnya

Ever since Chechnya was conquered in May 1859, Russia has tried out various ways to weaken the role of Islam there. It was Islam that became the banner of the

The Evolution of Salafism in the North Caucasus

For the past twelve years of Russian armed containment of the ideology of the insurgents in the North Caucasus, the North Caucasian armed resistance has changed significantly. At first, only

Suicide Bombings Return to Grozny

Before the commotion over the possible death of the well-known Chechen rebel emir Zaurbek Avdorkhanov in the Ingush village of Galashki on July 29 had subsided (www.chechenews.com/world-news/breaking/8565-1.html), suicide bombers attacked

North Caucasus Conflict Spreads to Tatarstan

The Republic of Tatarstan, willingly or not, is starting to move down the same path as the North Caucasus region. This trend is exemplified by incidents in the republic’s capital

Tatarstan – Russia’s New Hot Spot?

A high-profile crime against the official Islamic hierarchy of the republic of Tatarstan took place in this relatively quiet Russian region on July 19, when the chief of the instructional

Ingushetia Resembles a Dormant Volcano of Problems

Recent events in Ingushetia, the smallest republic of the North Caucasus, have forced observers not to discount the Ingush armed resistance’s capabilities. In 2011, there were 108 casualties in the

Who Made an Attempt to Kill Kadyrov, and Why?

Against the backdrop of the general security situation across the North Caucasus, where in May alone 164 people were victims of the conflict between the government and the armed opposition,

The Karachay Jamaat: Alive and Operational

Every news item about insurgent activities in Karachaevo-Cherkessia should be put in the wider context of the general situation in the North Caucasus. On a regional scale, the events in

A Cold Wind Blows from Moscow to Chechnya

Ramzan Kadyrov explained his sudden dismissal of the Chechen government on May 17 by pointing to the new challenges he said the republic was facing (www.vesti.ru/doc.html?id=796442). However, no one in

Russian Islam or Islam in Russia?

Relations between Russian authorities and the country’s Muslim subjects have been a sensitive issue since Islam appeared within the limits of the Russian Empire. Islam today remains one of the

Ingushetia Heads Toward Rebellion

The course of events in the republic of Ingushetia, the smallest and youngest republic of the Russian Federation, has changed dramatically over the past two years. In particular, changes were

Security in Dagestan Continues to Deteriorate

The arrival of fall has not seen a decline in rebel attacks in Dagestan after a violent summer. Indeed, given the ferociousness of the daily battles between government forces and

The Revival of Ingushetia’s Insurgency

Militants in Ingushetia have not been very active over the past year that is until quite recently. The break in insurgent activity was associated with the arrest of one of

The North Caucasus’ Troubled August

It has become a tradition that August is an especially volatile month in the North Caucasus. This year has not been an exception, with the situation in the North Caucasus

July Becomes a Hot Month for Moscow in Chechnya

News about increased military operations against rebels in Chechnya has unexpectedly been coming out of Chechnya over the last two months. What has been unusual about the reporting is that

The North Caucasus Slips Further into Chaos

The North Caucasus is increasingly reminiscent of the zone of military conflict where the situation is gradually approaching a critical point. News stories coming from the region – even those

Rebel Attacks in Kabardino-Balkaria Skyrocket

Amid reports by the Russian government that militant activity in Kabardino-Balkaria has increased four to five times (www.rosbalt.ru/2010/11/29/794929.html) –more than anywhere else in the North Caucasus region– local authorities are

Rebel Attacks in Kabardino-Balkaria Skyrocket

Amid reports by the Russian government that militant activity in Kabardino-Balkaria has increased four to five times (www.rosbalt.ru/2010/11/29/794929.html) –more than anywhere else in the North Caucasus region– local authorities are

Dagestan Leader Follows Steps of Kadyrov

Actions taken recently by the local leadership in Dagestan have become increasingly reminiscent of the policy carried out by Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Russian leader of Chechnya. Shortly after an all-Chechen

Dagestan Leader Follows Steps of Kadyrov

Actions taken recently by the local leadership in Dagestan have become increasingly reminiscent of the policy carried out by Ramzan Kadyrov, the pro-Russian leader of Chechnya. Shortly after an all-Chechen

Yevkurov’s Bloody Ramsons

A special operation in the vicinity of settlements of Arshty and Dattykh ended along the lines of a classic phrase authored by former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin: “We wanted

Suicide Bombers Further Destabilize Dagestan

August 2010 saw violent incidents all across Russia’s North Caucasus region, above all in Dagestan, where rebels and Russian police dealt heavy blows to each other. On August 21, forces

Suicide Bombers Further Destabilize Dagestan

August 2010 saw violent incidents all across Russia’s North Caucasus region, above all in Dagestan, where rebels and Russian police dealt heavy blows to each other. On August 21, forces

Rebel Attacks on the Rise in Kabardino-Balkaria

The uneasy situation in Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria republic in the troubled North Caucasus region has been making headlines over the past month. Most often it is about armed assaults and explosions

Chechen Fighters Hold their Ground Against Kadyrov

North Caucasus rebels have recently intensified their activity in Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan republics, and Chechnya does not seem to be an exception. Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, made yet another

Caucasus Emirate Leader Chooses a Successor

In response to the thunderous and inconsequential pronouncements made by Russia’s power structures and top-ranking officials about the situation in the North Caucasus, rebel groups there have been striking Russian

Caucasus Emirate Leader Chooses a Successor

In response to the thunderous and inconsequential pronouncements made by Russia’s power structures and top-ranking officials about the situation in the North Caucasus, rebel groups there have been striking Russian

Who Was Behind the Recent Bombing in Stavropol?

Against the background of Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov’s, growing concerns about the number of rebels operating throughout Chechnya (EDM, May 28), it has been decided in the capital Grozny to

Who Was Behind the Recent Bombing in Stavropol?

Against the background of Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov’s, growing concerns about the number of rebels operating throughout Chechnya (EDM, May 28), it has been decided in the capital Grozny to

Chechen Fighters Hold their Ground Against Kadyrov

North Caucasus rebels have recently intensified their activity in Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan republics, and Chechnya does not seem to be an exception. Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, made yet another

Rebel Attacks on the Rise in Kabardino-Balkaria

The uneasy situation in Russia’s Kabardino-Balkaria republic in the troubled North Caucasus region has been making headlines over the past month. Most often it is about armed assaults and explosions

Yevkurov’s Bloody Ramsons

A special operation in the vicinity of settlements of Arshty and Dattykh ended along the lines of a classic phrase authored by former Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin: “We wanted

Moscow Struggles to Stabilize Ingushetia

The Kremlin is maintaining its policy of trying to impose “external” rule on Ingushetia. The individual assigned to the post of prime minister of the republic is not only an

Adygeya: the New North Caucasus Hot Spot?

With the Adygeya jamaat announcing their intent to swear loyalty to Dokka Umarov, the chain of regional underground resistance groups has been completed and now spans the North Caucasus continuously

Dagestan Follows in Chechnya’s Footsteps

Chechnya's experience under the leadership of Ramzan Kadyrov -that is, the ostensible rule of law and order with the local police force seemingly in full control of the situation- could

More Russian Troops Headed to Ingushetia

According to independent sources, several additional Russian army units are headed to the special-operations zone where the insurgency in Ingushetia has mounted relentless strikes (www.ingushetia.ru, August 14). As these troops

Black Thursday in the North Caucasus

Last Thursday was Dagestan's deadliest day in recent years. While all three North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan reported deadly clashes between insurgents and police forces that day,

Kabardino-Balkaria: Another North Caucasus Hot Spot?

Today, the northwestern part of the North Caucasus region (comprised of the republics of Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Adygeya) is increasingly becoming one large battlefield. An affluent resort area during the

The North Caucasus Remains Combustible

Events in the North Caucasus today are still closely tied to the boundaries established in the 19th century, when the natives’ resistance to the Russian Empire was channeled into two

Dagestan’s Sharia Jamaat Gets a New Leader

For nearly two months after the death of the last leader of Dagestan’s Sharia Jamaat, Emir Muaz (Umar Sheikhullaev), who was killed in Leninkent, a suburb of the Dagestani capital

The Mysterious Assassination of Sulim Yamadaev

On the evening of March 28, the Chechen community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—which is approximately 2,000-3,000 strong—was abuzz with the news of the assassination attempt on Sulim Yamadaev

Chechnya Ordered To Be “Peaceful”

Chechnya was back in the spotlight at the end of last week because of the announcements made by its president, Ramzan Kadyrov, with regard to the fate of the counter-terrorist

New War Zone Emerges in Southern Dagestan

Reports about armed encounters have been streaming in from Dagestan for the past week. For three days, the Russian army jointly with the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Dagestan’s Interior

Ingush Insurgency Approaches Major Crossroads

Militant actions in Ingushetia increasingly are bearing the signs of an uncompromising struggle against the authorities. At times, the news reports from this republic resemble wartime chronicles. The daily news

Russia No Longer Controls the Situation in Dagestan

The events taking place in the largest North Caucasian republic raise serious questions about the degree of control that the local authorities—and primarily the law enforcement agencies led by Dagestani

Dokka Umarov Suffers Setback in Turkey

When Chechen refugees leave Russia to settle in foreign countries, they are mainly concerned with the physical safety of their family members. However, over the years, members of the Chechen

Kadyrov Courts Akhmed Zakaev

The end of 2008 and the beginning of 2009 were marked by yet another flurry of media reports surrounding the key Chechen resistance movement political figure, Akhmed Zakaev.Zakaev is the

Ingushetia’s New President Faces an Uphill Battle

The appointment of Yunus-bek Yevkurov, the career military intelligence officer with experience in the Kosovo (1999) and Chechnya (2000) wars, as the president of Ingushetia, the smallest North Caucasian republic,

Chechnya Starts the New Year on a Tense Note

After numerous statements by various ministers in Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s government regarding the victories that they scored in 2008 in Chechnya (http://www.grozny-inform.ru/), 2009 began with unpleasant news streaming in

Militant Actions Shake Up Dagestan

The frequency of militant actions carried out by the members of the Sharia Jamaat in Dagestan increased drastically in late November and early December. Practically not a day goes by

Russia Admits Rebel Fighter Activity in Chechnya

Faced with recurring reports of assaults and assassinations in Grozny and the rest of Chechnya, Russian government officials are being forced to admit that rebel fighter operations have become a

Violence in Ingushetia Continues to Intensify

Last week’s events saw the wave of high-profile murders rumbling through the North Caucasus continue, with Ingushetia again leading the way. Valentina Miroshnichenko, wife of the deputy mayor of Ordzhonikidzevskaya,

Kadyrov’s Power and Cult of Personality Grows

Chechnya has been literally shaken this month. According to Russian sources, 25 tremors were registered in Chechnya on October 11-12 alone (Novye Izvestia, October 13). The epicenter of the strongest

Ingushetia on the Brink of War

Since the start of October, there have been a record number of attacks against the government in Ingushetia. The situation raises the questions of what is really happening in this

The Chechen Reaction to the Georgian Crisis

The August 2008 events in Georgia have been interpreted in various ways both in the world generally and in the republics of Russia’s North Caucasus that neighbor Georgia. Leaving aside

Moscow Faces a Sea of Troubles in the Caucasus

It appears that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov still has not given up his ambition to crush his old rival Lieutenant Colonel Sulim Yamadaev, commander of the Vostok battalion (a Russian

Who’s Who in the Moscow Chechen Community

With everything that is happening in Chechnya today, the affairs of Chechen communities outside of their homeland are not receiving much notice. Moscow alone, for instance, was home to up

Russia Admits Rebel Fighter Activity in Chechnya

Faced with recurring reports of assaults and assassinations in Grozny and the rest of Chechnya, Russian government officials are being forced to admit that rebel fighter operations have become a

The North Caucasus Factor in Georgia

Russia has played the North Caucasus card against the Georgians once before - during the armed conflict of August-September 1992. At the time, Russia took advantage of the close ethnic

Is Aushev Planning a Political Comeback?

When the Ingush public found themselves at a crossroads in 1991 after their Chechen neighbors announced secession from Russia, they decided that following the Chechen example may lead to the

Dagestan’s Jamaats Widen Their Theater of Operations

Dagestan’s Interior Minister Adalgirei Magomedtagirov recently admitted that the government expects rebel fighters to strike over the May holidays. The projected spread of rebel attacks mentioned in his statement was

Rebel Restructuring Revitalizes Insurgency

It has been almost a month since this author first wrote about the Alkhazurovo raid for Chechnya Weekly (Chechnya Weekly, April 3). By now, some preliminary conclusions may already be

This Odd Place Called Ingushetia

Events unfolding in the North Caucasus continue to be a matter of concern for human rights advocates but not in the least for the local governments acting as the Kremlin’s

Oil in Chechnya: A Brief History

The first reports of oil deposits in Chechnya surfaced in the writings of travelers who noted streams of a peculiar black substance gushing out from under the ground in some

The Chechen Diaspora in Russia

The Chechen Diaspora in Russia is the most numerous of all Chechen communities spread around the world outside of Chechnya. According to the official results of Russia’s 2002 census, 1.1

Dmitry Medvedev’s Chechnya Policy

The so-called elections of March 2, which endorsed Dmitry Medvedev as the next Russian leader, were less about whether or not he will be president (that decision had already been

Ingushetia Spins Further Out of Control

For some time now, bad news coming out of Ingushetia has been treated as “business as usual”: reports of explosions, arrests and assassinations have become a trademark of this North

Kadyrov Expands His Influence in Moscow

In order to avoid a potential weakening of his position after the next president of the Russian Federation takes office, Ramzan Kadyrov has been working to boost his influence in

The War of Words Between Zakaev and Umarov

During a recent press conference, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that traveling to the Chechen Republic without protection is still not feasible (RIA Novosti, January 23, 2008). This statement

Chechnya’s Exodus to Europe

A sternly worded statement made by the Austrian radical right-wing politician Jorg Haider served as yet another reminder to the world that the Chechen refugee problem remains acute (Gazeta.ru, January

2007 Summed Up: Ichkeria Gets the Emirate

After deliberating for a year and a half, Chechen resistance leader Dokka Umarov, who took over after the assassination of Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) leaders Aslan Maskhadov and Abdul-Khalim

The Dagestani Jamaat (Part 2)

Following the events of summer and fall of 1999, the realities of Dagestan’s life suggested a whole new attitude toward Salafi adherents was emerging. Dagestan is generally considered a region

The Dagestani Jamaat (Part 1)

The Dagestani Jamaat "Shariat" is the direct successor of the Dagestani Jamaat supposedly destroyed on the orders of Vladimir Putin in August and September of 1999 [1]. As such, it

Weaknesses in Moscow’s Chechnya Policy

The current situation in Chechnya is causing controversies and misunderstandings and, consequently, leading those who follow this region to draw incorrect conclusions. First off, it must be noted that nothing

Zakaev Takes on the Emirate

The recent statements made by the foreign minister of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) came as a shock to the Chechen community (Chechenpress, October 23). Akhmed Zakaev’s sharp attacks

Putin’s Latest Reshuffling

As is typical for Russia, long expected news is being presented to the public as something sensational and surprising. Vladimir Putin, having sworn that no one would be able to

Dagestan: Russia’s Eternal Problem

During the last few years, all of the ethnic republics of the Northern Caucasus – Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and Adygeia – have undergone changes in their leadership. The

Dokka Umarov Starts to Show His Teeth

The past month has undoubtedly been one of Dokka Umarov’s fiercest and most productive since he assumed command of the resistance movement. Day after day in July and early August,

The Future of Ramzan Kadyrov

It has become commonplace for Ramzan Kadyrov’s public statements to be less an expression of his own views and more of a way for one of the Kremlin cliques to

Dagestan in Crisis

Mukhu Aliev’s recent statements run sharply contrary to what the federal authorities of the Russian Federation would like to hear about the North Caucasus. During his speech in Rostov, the

Zyazikov’s Spiraling Problems in Ingushetia

The North Caucasus continues to churn uneasily, despite all of Moscow’s cheerful assurances to the contrary. It is hard to miss how the Russian leadership desperately tries to find a

Is Sarkozy Serious about Chechnya?

Foreign policy generally plays a secondary – perhaps even a tertiary – role in French electoral campaigns. The new head of state is determined by the competition between rival visions

A Profile of the Karachai Dzhamaat

The leadership of Karachaevo-Cherkessia has loudly and vociferously claimed, despite all evidence to the contrary, that the republic is the quietest region in the Northern Caucasus (www.kavkaz.memo.ru, March 23). The

The Hajj and Its Impact on the North Caucasus

Year after year, Muslims living within the Russian Federation are confronted with the host of issues surrounding the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina

New Faces on Both Sides of the Frontlines

Chechnya has recently witnessed several important personnel changes among both the members of the resistance movement and the pro-Kremlin rulers of the republic. By nominating Ramzan Kadyrov to the position

Kadyrov’s Chechen Network in Moscow

The recent appointment of Hussein Djabrailov as a vice prime minister of Chechnya has generally been ignored by the media, despite the fact that this is a demonstration of the

THE ROLE OF SUFISM IN THE CHECHEN RESISTANCE

The Sufi interpretation of Islam has been practiced in Chechnya since the end of the 18th century. The Sufism of the Naqshbandi tariqa (or brotherhood) was the first to make

EVOLUTION OF THE CHECHEN JAMAAT

When referring to events in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, the media often employs a one-sided interpretation of the term "jamaat." In most cases, the media interprets the term exclusively

EVOLUTION OF THE CHECHEN JAMAAT

When referring to events in Chechnya and the North Caucasus, the media often employs a one-sided interpretation of the term "jamaat." In most cases, the media interprets the term exclusively

THE ROLE OF SUFISM IN THE CHECHEN RESISTANCE

The Sufi interpretation of Islam has been practiced in Chechnya since the end of the 18th century. The Sufism of the Naqshbandi tariqa (or brotherhood) was the first to make