Russian interior minister Anatoly Kulikov met last week in Nalchik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, with republic law-enforcement officers. Kabardino-Balkaria was chosen as the site for the meeting because the republic is exposed to all of the consequences of the tensions in other parts of the north Caucasus. At the meeting, Kulikov pointed to the importance of dealing with what he called "the Chechen factor" in the fight against crime in the region. Khachim Shogenov, Kabardino-Balkaria’s interior minister, said regional tensions are forcing the authorities in his republic to prepare for the worst. Attention focused on the possibility of setting up armed "police assistance detachments" in the republic. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, November 29)
The idea of forming self-defense detachments has also been raised by the Secretary of Dagestan’s Security Council Magomet Tolboev and the proposal has already been approved by the Council that Tolboev heads. There is, however, a danger in multi-ethnic Dagestan that such detachments could turn into rogue armed groups, composed along ethnic lines and operating independently of republic authorities. Similarly, in Kabardino-Balkaria, where congresses of the Balkar people have in recent years called for the creation of a separate Balkar republic, there is a danger that self-defense detachments could turn into rival armed groups of Balkars and Kabardins.
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