Archive for the 'terrorism' Category


Terrorism: Russian president Medvedev expands FSB powers

Russian president Dmitry Medvedev last week signed a bill expanding FSB powers in order for Russian secret services to be more more effective in their fight against terrorism. The FSB can now officially warn and fine citizens against “creating the conditions” for crimes.

Russia has broadened the authority of the Federal Security Service, the KGB’s main successor agency, giving it Soviet-style repressive powers in a move critics say could be used to stifle protests and intimidate government opponents.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev signed a law Thursday allowing the agency, known by its initials FSB, to issue warnings or detain people suspected of preparing to commit crimes against Russia’s security — which could include participating in anti-government rallies. Perpetrators face fines or up to 15 days detention.

Like many past restrictions, the law was described as part of an effort to combat extremism. The bill, submitted to Russian lawmakers in April, followed twin subway bombings in Moscow that killed 40 people and reflected the Kremlin’s dissatisfaction with critical media coverage of its anti-terrorism efforts.

A senior lawmaker said the law protects people from abuse by law enforcement officers.

“Officers of law enforcement agencies have long talked about the necessity of switching from investigating crimes to their prevention,” Mikhail Margelov, the Kremlin-connected head of the foreign affairs committee in the upper house of Russian parliament, said in a statement. “The amendments do not turn FSB into a new edition of once-almighty KGB but protect Russian citizens from outrages by men in uniform.”

Some of the law’s articles, including ones that toughen control over media for “extremist statements” and allow FSB to publish warnings in the press, were removed or toned down following severe criticism from opposition and even Kremlin loyalists.

However, a lawmaker with the Communist party that remains the largest opposition force in Russia’s rubber-stamp parliament, said the amendments did not change the law’s repressive character.

“Despite all the promises to correct the most odious articles, by the second reading nothing has been changed in the text,” Viktor Ilykhin told The Associated Press.

A Kremlin loyalist from a nationalist party praised the law for its “preventative measures.”

“This is not a repressive law,” Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic party, told online daily. “We’re only talking about preventive measures.”

Kremlin critics say, however, that the new measures could be used to violate the rights of opposition, and its obscure wording would leave the legislation open to interpretation.

“It’s an ugly law with obscure formulas,” independent political analyst Yulia Latynina told AP. “In case a drunken FSB officer is shooting at you, and there have been many such cases, you might end up getting jailed for 15 days for merely trying to escape.”

The opposition has accused the Kremlin of turning Russia into a Soviet-style police state, and many Russians say they have experienced or fear abuse at the hands of FSB officers. Government critics say corruption among the FSB and other agencies stifles business activity and stunts the economy.

Some rights activists say the law simply legalizes practices FSB officers have been using for years.

“I don’t think it adds anything to what FSB has been doing without any laws,” former Soviet dissident and head of the Moscow Helsinki group Lyudmila Alexeyeva told AP. “But it’s very sad when a law approves the outrage of such a dangerous service as FSB.”

The legislation continues a trend under former President Vladimir Putin, blamed by the opposition and the West for rolling back Russia’s democratic reforms of the 1990s. The former KGB officer and FSB head allowed the security services to regain power and influence at the expense of Russia’s democratic institutions.

Putin is now prime minister, and many see his intolerance of dissent as influencing Medvedev, his hand-picked successor.

The bill has raised doubts about Medvedev’s commitment to promoting full-fledged democracy and freedom of expression. Medvedev often has spoken of instituting judicial and police reforms, and has taken a less hard line on many issues than Putin.

Medvedev, who initiated the bill, angrily retorted to criticism. He said earlier this month that “each country has the right to perfect its legislation.”


Russian army captured Emir Magas

Russia hit hard on Ingushetia insurgency this week after one of the head of the rebelion, Emir Magas, was captured. Does it mean Moscow has won the war? Wait and see… Funny though how the Russians took great care in sparing Magas’ life… in order to get sensitive intelligence from him!

The Russian authorities said Wednesday that they had captured Ali Taziyev, a militant leader known as Emir Magas, in Ingushetia. Mr. Taziyev, who was a police officer in the 1990s, became a central figure in the north Caucasus insurgency. Aleksandr Bortnikov, the director of the Federal Security Service, said Mr. Taziyev helped organize the suicide bombing of a Nazran police station that killed 24 people and an attempt on the life of Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov.

An unidentified Security Service official told the Interfax news agency that his forces took pains to capture Mr. Taziyev alive in hopes of gathering information about other militants. He was taken to Moscow, where a local court approved his detention. Chechnya’s president, Ramzan A. Kadyrov, celebrated the arrest, saying Mr. Taziyev was “more brutal and posed a greater threat to civilians than the well-known terrorist ringleader Doku Umarov.”


Russian-Swedish tensions over Chechen refugees

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev urged Sweden Tuesday to extradite two men it says are Chechen separatists and accuses of involvement in killings and kidnappings.

World  |  Russia

Sweden refused to extradite the Chechen suspects Aslan Adayev and Magomed Uspayev as recently as 2008, a refusal Russia denounced as a “political offence” at the time.

At a joint news conference with visiting Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt in the Kremlin, Medvedev quickly shifted the discussion to the Chechens when the issue of human rights in the Caucasus came up.

“If we talk about the Caucasus, apart from the human rights situation there is another problem … the bandits who found shelter in Sweden,” Medvedev said. “If we are talking about observing human rights, we also need to jointly fight crime.”

Medvedev said he hoped a cooperation agreement signed earlier in the day between top Swedish and Russian prosecutors meant the two Chechens would be “dealt with.”

Reinfeldt told the same news conference he had discussed with Medvedev the issue of human rights in the North Caucasus.

Rights activists say endemic corruption, widespread poverty and oppression by local authorities are pushing young people to join the ranks of Islamist insurgents.

Kremlin critics have urged Moscow to solve the murder of Natalia Estemirova, a human rights worker in Chechnya and a vocal critic of hardline Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who was kidnapped and shot last July.

In an open letter published by Swedish daily Sydsvenskan on Tuesday, Russian human rights campaigners Tatyana Lokshina and Oleg Orlov called on Reinfeldt and Foreign Minister Carl Bildt to openly criticize Russia for rights violations in the Caucasus.


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.”


Suicide bombing in Daghestan: an ever deteriorating situation!!!

The worst seems the rule in Daghestan those days. This time, a suicide bomber tried to blow himself into a police headquarters… Unfortunately, this is not the first time I report this type of situation in Daghestan.

The bomber tries to crash an SUV into a traffic police headquarters but is thwarted by officers who ram a truck into the vehicle. The explosives go off, killing the officers, who are hailed as heroes.

January 06, 2010|By Megan K. Stack

  • Russian Police
  • Reporting from Moscow — A suicide bomber targeted a traffic police headquarters in the restive Russian republic of Dagestan on Wednesday, killing five officers and injuring 19 more.

    As a small, Russian-made SUV careened toward the building about 8 a.m., a team of police rammed their vehicle into the bomber’s. The explosives went off on impact, killing all the police officers in the truck but preventing the bomber from reaching his target.

    The death toll would have been much higher had the officers not intervened, officials in Dagestan said. The men were being hailed as heroes.


    Train bombing: Chechen separatists claim responsability

    who said war and civil unrest were over in Chechnya. Certainly not me. The situation in chechnya has much improved these past years, but until the very roots of the conflicts are settled, we’ll continue to see bombings such as this one.

    Funny how Americans, so quick to fight terrorism, remained silent… Are there different types of terrorism? 

    Chechen separatists took responsibility on Wednesday for the bombing of a luxury train last week that killed 26 people in Russia, but the authorities gave no indication that the claim was credible. The separatists said in a letter to a Web site,, that they were seeking to strike at economically important targets in Russia. It was not clear why, if they were responsible, they delayed in making their claim. They wrote that they were loyal to a Chechen militant leader, Doku Umarov, who wants an Islamic state in Chechnya, a Muslim region in the Caucasus. Chechen extremists carried out several terrorist attacks in Russia outside the Caucasus earlier in the decade.


    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…