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North Caucasus Insurgency - 2006-?

The Chechen people are tired of war and just want a normal, stable life. Russia continues to struggle with an ongoing insurgency in Chechnya, Ingushetiya and Dagestan. These republics and neighboring regions in the northern Caucasus have a high risk of violence and kidnapping. Stability in Chechnya, however brutally it was imposed, has virtually taken the conflict off the international agenda.

In the 2006 US State Department Human Rights report it was noted that during 2006 in Chechnya, antigovernment forces continued killing and intimidating local officials. There were also reports of Chechen rebel involvement in both terrorist bombings and politically motivated disappearances in Chechnya and Ingushetiya during the year. Some rebels were allegedly involved in kidnapping to raise funds, and there were reports that explosives improvised by rebels led to civilian casualties. Also, during the year unrest continued in and around the Chechen Republic and in the neighboring republics of Ingushetiya and Dagestan. Federal forces and Chechen Republic forces engaged in human rights abuses, including torture, summary executions, disappearances, and arbitrary detentions. Chechen rebels also committed human rights abuses, including major acts of terrorism and summary executions.

The beginning of this broader North Caucasus insurgency could be traced to the death of Shamil Basayev and the rise of Doku Umarov. Doku Umarov served in the Chechen military, during which time he fought against Russian forces in the first Chechen War. Umarov took Basayev's place as the separatist leader of not only the Chechen rebels, but also of the group that he founded called the Caucasus Emirate. This militant group was an umbrella organization under which many militant groups gathered, including the late Basayev's group Riyadus Salihin. The Caucasus Emirate also included one of the oldest Dagestani militant groups known as Shariat Jamaat.

In August 2006, after the death of Basayev, who claimed responsibility for the Beslan school massacre and other atrocities, the Kremlin declared an amnesty until 1 August 2006 for militants active across the North Caucasus to lay down their arms and promised them an unbiased investigation. The deadline was later extended until 30 September 2006. Chechen Prosecutor Nikolai Kalugin said 119 gunmen had surrendered in Chechnya alone since the amnesty was declared. Even with the amnesty declaration, militants staged 3 attacks that month in the neighboring Caucasus republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia, targeting law officers and killing 5 and wounding 13 people.

In 2005-06 there was a lull in military activity due primarily to the vacuum left by the deaths of Chechen Republic Ichkeria President Aslan Maskhadov and renegade field commander and tactical wizard Shamil Basayev. By 2007 the evidence of Chechnya's economic reconstruction was striking. Scaffolding, initially seen only around government buildings, appeared everywhere, including private homes. Minutka Square, long a symbol of the city's destruction, had been cleared, while what was promised to be the largest mosque in the North Caucasus commanded the center of Grozny. Traffic and pedestrians returned to city streets. For Grozny's long-suffering population, the reconstruction and relative security resurrected a once-forgotten sense of hope, although nervousness remained due to rumors of a resurgent insurgency.

By April 2008, however, the insurgency was again strong enough to mobilize 400-500 fighters to occupy five villages west and southwest of Grozny, taking prisoner up to 15 of Kadyrov's men and killing 18.

Violence continued in the North Caucasus republics, driven by separatism, interethnic conflict, jihadist movements, vendettas, criminality, excesses by security forces, and the activity of terrorists. There continue to be reports that security force use of indiscriminate force resulted in numerous deaths or disappearances and that authorities did not prosecute the perpetrators. Government personnel, militants, and criminal elements continue to engage in abductions in the North Caucasus. In numerous instances local officials in Chechnya provide families with incomplete or misleading information regarding the welfare and whereabouts of detained family members.

Burning the homes of suspected militants continued and was used as a threat by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to force confessions from militants as well as to convince militants families to hand over their sons to law enforcement officials. Armed forces and police units abuse and torture both militants and civilians in holding facilities. Authorities often did not act to address widespread reports of physical abuse of women, including honor killings, which are increasingly common in the region.




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