Chaos in Caucasus

Article excerpt

Byline: James Morrison, THE WASHINGTON TIMES


Congressional human rights leaders fear Russia is losing control over the lawless North Caucasus region, where blood feuds, gangsters and militant Muslims are pushing up the death toll daily.

After the latest killing of two aid workers in Chechnya, a journalist in Dagestan and a government official in Ingushetia, the chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe called on Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to open a thorough prosecution of these heinous murders.

These murders suggest that no one is safe in the North Caucasus, and this volatile region is drifting toward chaos, said Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin, Maryland Democrat and the commission's chairman.

Mr. Cardin and his co-chairman, Rep. Alcee L. Hastings, Florida Democrat, agreed that the assassinations undermine efforts to investigate corruption and human rights abuses in the region.

The execution of independent journalists and human rights activists is creating a black hole of information and violence in the region, Mr. Cardin said.

We are literally losing our ability to understand wider problems in the North Caucasus because, on a daily basis, independent voices are being eliminated for speaking truth to the region, Mr. Hastings added.

Aid workers Zarema Sadulayeva and her husband, Alik Djabrailov, were killed in Chechnya on Monday. On Wednesday, Abdulmalik Akhmedilov, a reporter, was killed in Dagestan, and Ruslan Amerkhanov, the regional minister for construction, was killed in Ingushetia.

On a visit to the region in June, Mr. Medvedev noted that 235 people had been killed since January.


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