Archive for the 'mafia' Category


Dagestan on the hedge of total chaos

I was one of the first to talk about Dagestan while Western media were focused on Georgia. I was definitely right! The situation in Dagestan, week after week, is slowly getting out of control.

When you had local mafias to islamism, it brings highly inflamable instability. Where will it stop? Can Russia halt this vicious circle? Not sure!

Last week here in the capital of the southern republic of Dagestan, the wind whipped uncollected garbage in every direction and tens of thousands of citizens lost heat, electricity and water.

Dagestan’s violence disrupts Makhachkala’s tourism plans.

The traffic police, fearful of another suicide bombing, sealed off the neighborhood before holding their routine troop reviews. The vice speaker of Dagestan’s parliament narrowly escaped an attack with automatic weapon fire from a passing car.

In other words, nothing out of the ordinary.

Pressure has been rising steadily in Dagestan, where clan wars intersect with a growing Islamic fundamentalism and a deepening sense of public alienation. All those threats factor into a question the Kremlin has to answer in the coming days: Who, in the labyrinth of Dagestani politics, will bring peace if he is named president?

Ten years ago, Vladimir V. Putin, then Russia’s president, cemented his hold on Russian politics by showing he could bring the Caucasus to heel. The mechanism was force; after a second war against Chechnya’s separatists, he installed a strongman, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, as president and granted him the power to crush internal opposition. But a year of rising violence in the region has made it clear that Moscow’s control is more tenuous than it seemed.

Nowhere is this more obvious than in Dagestan, where militants have stepped up their attacks while clan groupings have fought, sometimes murderously, over the republic’s resources.

“With Chechnya, the main headache is a strong leader who is not controllable, but at least he is in charge,” said Pavel K. Baev, a senior researcher at the International Peace Research Institute, which is based in Oslo. “In Dagestan, the problem is that there is a loss of control that is moving toward violence of another kind, which is stronger and stronger, and spiced with Islamic fundamentalism.”

“There is no other kind of order,” Mr. Baev said. “Only the fundamentalists can present themselves as honest men.”

Dagestan, one of the most heavily subsidized of Russia’s regions, should be able to support itself. It has oil and gas reserves, like neighboring Azerbaijan, and once lucrative vineyards and fisheries. The sandy coastline itself, stretching 250 miles along the Caspian Sea, should be a moneymaker in a beach-starved colossus like Russia.

But the beaches around Makhachkala (pronounced ma-HACH-ka-la), a city of 466,000, offer a primer in what has gone wrong. Tycoons have chopped up much of the coast for private mansions, and local residents complain that the public beaches that remain are too dirty and ill kept to enjoy. As for tourists, Makhachkala’s mayor, Said D. Amirov — who now uses a wheelchair as a result of an assassination attempt — put it this way: “You can’t develop tourism when you have a murder every day.”

There has always been competition for power in Dagestan, which is cobbled together out of more than 30 ethnic groups, but with the Soviet collapse it turned violent. The first time an official was assassinated, in 1992, people were so outraged that thousands demonstrated to demand that the killers be punished. Over the next decade, though, killings of officials, religious leaders, lawyers, journalists and police officers became commonplace.

In a republic of 2.5 million people — roughly the population of Brooklyn — armored cars and bodyguards have become so standard that Magomed-Rasul M. Omarov did a double take recently when he noticed the agriculture minister walking down the street without a security detail. It was a sight he had not seen for years.

“He looks like a white crow,” said Mr. Omarov, who works as press secretary for the mufti of Dagestan, whose deputy died from a gunshot to the head last May.

“People have no hope in law enforcement or in other protection or in justice anymore,” he said. “If one case was brought to justice, you could say there was some hope.”

It falls to Dmitri A. Medvedev, Russia’s president, to try to calm the waters. The first term of Dagestan’s president, Mukhu G. Aliyev, ends on Feb. 20. At the time of his appointment, Mr. Aliyev raised great hopes in a populace furious over corruption; a longtime Communist Party figure, he was known for steadfastly refusing bribes and lived, famously, in a modest three-room apartment.

But four years later, Mr. Aliyev’s critics say he has been too weak to control the factions beneath him. It is clear that the calm of his early presidency is gone. Three hundred people died in violent attacks in Dagestan in 2009 — more than in either the nearby republics of Ingushetia or Chechnya — and the number of attacks were more than double the 2008 figure, according to statistics compiled by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“Everybody understands that his time is ending,” said Marko Shakhbanov, editor in chief of Novoye Delo, a newspaper that has been critical of Mr. Aliyev’s government. “He is a good person, but a good person is not a profession.”

Mr. Medvedev could reappoint Mr. Aliyev, 69, or choose a new face like Magomed I. Abdullayev, 48, a deputy prime minister who, like Mr. Medvedev, studied and lectured at the law department of St. Petersburg University. Uncertainty over the question has gripped Makhachkala since mid-November, and some complain that it fueled a spike in violence in December and January.

Mr. Medvedev “is making decisions on several governors, but this is one of the most complicated of all,” Mr. Baev, the researcher, said. “In Moscow, they cannot pay much attention to the fact that it’s destabilizing, it’s eroding, it’s getting worse. They don’t know what to do.”

The stakes are great, he said, because public disgust over corruption is driving young people to embrace fundamentalism.

Zaipul S. Osmanov, who works in a Makhachkala employment center, said he has watched in bafflement as his neighbor’s sons — children he has known since they were born — disappeared into “the forest,” as people here refer to underground militant networks. The oldest disappeared for a year. Mr. Osmanov heard he was studying abroad, and when he returned, “the second brother was infected.”

The first was killed in July, and his brother in October — Mr. Osmanov did not know how, but he said he assumed that they were killed in a suicide operation or a police raid. His neighbor has two surviving sons, still in their teens, but Mr. Osmanov expects to hear the same news about them before too long.

“I don’t think they have a way to retreat,” he said. “There is no way back from the forest.”


Death of a Russian crime barron

RUSSIA OBIT IVANKOVA happy ending story is a story which has not ended yet… Find below a short report on one of the most famous and scared crime barron of Moscow, Vyacheslav Ivankov. After spending 10 years in US jails, he got sent back to Russia where he was of course acquitted. Two months ago he got shot and died last week. Streets are tough…

Vyacheslav Ivankov, 69, a Russian crime boss who spent nearly 10 years in a U.S. prison, died last week  in a Moscow hospital, two months after being shot several times as he was leaving a restaurant.

After spending 10 years in a Soviet prison for running a ring of thieves, Ivankov moved to the United States in 1992. He was arrested by the FBI in 1995 and convicted of trying to extort millions of dollars from an investment firm run by Russian emigres in New York.

He was extradited to Russia from the United States in 2004 to face murder charges, but he was acquitted.

He was shot in the abdomen on July 28 from a sniper rifle fired from inside a minivan. The gunman has not been identified, the investigative agency said Friday.


Something rotten in the Republic of Dagestan


As usual, Western media did not mention it, but very interesting events occured these days in the Republic of Dagestan. I know that this south western republic is too far from Moscow to send journalists, but let me bring facts about the situation over there.

In less than ten days, four senior officials of Dagestan have been shot dead or bombed. All of them were high-ranked police officials or judges. The Interior minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov is among the casualty of this local virus. He was shot during a wedding  ceremony by a sniper!!!

What is going on over there. To be honnest with you I don’t have any evidence, but it seems that the Islamist trail evoked as usual by the government is not convincing.

I tend to believe that we are currently witnessing a gang war in Dagestan. The local mafia is very powerful and might be willing to cut some heads.

To be followed…