From Moscow to Makhachkala: The People in Between

By Jones, Kimberly L. | Fordham Urban Law Journal, November 2013 | Go to article overview

From Moscow to Makhachkala: The People in Between


Jones, Kimberly L., Fordham Urban Law Journal


Introduction: Setting the Stage   I. The Governance Crisis in Context        A. Setting the Stage: Land and People of the Mountains        B. The North Caucasus Federal District: Adding Fuel to           a Governance Fire           1. Dagestan: All Politics Is Local?           2. Moscow's Meddling while Makhachkala's Burning  II. From Grozny to Moscow to Makhachkala: Militant      Violence in Context        A. The Chechen Context: "We Shall Respond to Every           Chechen Shot with Thousands of Our Own".        B. Militant Violence in Context: From Grozny to           Makhachkala to Moscow        C. Wars and Peace? III. Human Rights and Wrongs: From Moscow to Makhachkala        A. Russia's Rhetorical Commitment to Human Rights        B. Silencing Truth: Targeting Journalists        C. Killing Hope: Human Rights Defenders in the         Crosshairs        D. The Deafening Silence of Those Who Suffer IV.  From Moscow to Makhachkala: The People in Between 

The main problem with our society, are these broken links. Everything that ties us together between regions, generations, past and present, has been shattered by the Soviet Union, the collapse of the Soviet Union and the successor regime to the Soviet Union. We will only become a healthy society once we have rebuilt those connections, somehow. (1)

INTRODUCTION: SETTING THE STAGE

Since the mid-1990s, the Russian Federation (Russia) has been engaged in a series of violent struggles within its North Caucasus territory. (2) While much attention has rightly focused on the Republic of Chechnya, the locus of two wars and a protracted counterterrorist operation, the nature of the violence has varied across the region in the interceding years. (3) In the neighboring Republic of Dagestan, violence increased after Russia declared an end to the second Chechen war. (4) Efforts to sustainably stem violence in this restive republic have been stymied because Russia has failed to meaningfully address a series of critically important contextual factors: Dagestani governance, the backdrop of regional violence, and human rights violations against the local population. In short, conflict occurs in context, and by failing to connect the dots, Moscow's policies have undermined security in its periphery-Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala, and the hinterlands it governs.

Charles King notes, "Awe and terror have often been intertwined in outsiders' conceptions of the Caucasus." (5) Indeed, it is terror that focused U.S. attention on this oft-overlooked corner of Russia in the spring of 2013. (6) Anzor and Zubeidat Tsarnaev, the parents of Dzhokar and Tamarlan, the two young men accused of carrying out the Boston Marathon bombing in April of 2013, live in Makhachkala. (7) News articles after the attack were peppered with questions about whether the brothers Tsarnaev were radicalized in Dagestan. (8) A report scheduled for release in the summer of 2013 asks whether the violence of the region has come to the United States, in essence from the Caucasus to Copley. (9) Additionally, the 2014 Winter Olympics are in nearby Sochi, Russia. The state has invested heavily in security for the Olympics, and militants have threatened the international event. (10) "Awe and terror" are also reflected in considering the basic human dignity of the ten million people who live in that region. (11) Since the beginning of the first Chechen war in 1994, tens of thousands have been killed, hundreds of thousands have been wounded and even more have had their lives disrupted by violence. (12) Nearly a year prior to his death, murdered Dagestani journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiyev reflected on human rights concerns in the Republic and stated, "Such a feeling that time in Russia and Dagestan flows in the opposite direction, the authorities want to return society to the Stalinist-Soviet era, where the right to absolute truth belonged only to the state and its opponents were [a]waiting either endless prosecution or imprisonment and extrajudicial execution. …

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