Sunday, September 8, 2013

Window on Eurasia: ‘Social Terrorism’ Displacing Religious and Ethnic Violence in Russian Federation, Analyst Says

Paul Goble

            Staunton, September 9 – Most observers have argued that over the last dozen years, religious-based terrorism has displaced ethnic or nationalist violence, but now, according to a specialist on the Caucasus, Islamist terrorism there is being overshadowed by a new form, one he calls “social terrorism” which seeks to destroy the institutions of the state as such.

            This is an extremely worrisome trend, Artur Atayev, a researcher at the Russian Institute for Strategic Studies (RISI), because unlike nationalist terrorism which has separatist goals and religious terrorism which seeks the victory of one religion over another, social terrorism has as its goal the destruction of the state as such” (

            According to Atayev, “the activity of the Narodnya Volya movement in 19th century [Russia] is a clear example of social terrorism.” The goals of such groups today or “more precisely the goals of their sponsors and ideologues who work outside the borders of the country” is to promote “social terrorism.”

            Radical Islamists alone cannot achieve that because they are limited by their own doctrines to Muslims, the researcher continues.  “For carrying out this project, they are trying to involve representatives of other religions and are involved in proselytism” among ethnic Russians whom they are trying to recruit to their ranks.

            This trend is still relatively small, Atayev says, but it is already noteworthy in Stavropol kray.  He does not add, but it almost certainly is the case that recent Russian police raids on the National Organization of [Ethnic] Russian Muslims (NORM) in St. Petersburg reflect growing concern among Russian officials about this phenomenon.

            In speaking of the evolution of terrorism in Russia since 1991, Atayev says that today “there is no nationalist terrorism on the territory of Russia, but there is religious terrorism” in the north Caucasus republics of Daghestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, and Karachayevo-Cherkesia. And it is spreading north to Stavropol, the Middle Volga and Russian cities.

            Atayev says that Russia is currently “one of the most successful states” as far as the struggle against terrorism is concerned, having decimated the large groups of the 1990s and gradually mopping up the smaller ones. But the new social terrorism presents a new set of challenges, and Moscow is going to have to redouble its efforts in response.

            That is because this new form is not limited to one ethnic group or religion but has the potential to involve people of different nationalities or religious affiliations on the basis of their hatred of the state, thus forming groups that are inevitably far more difficult to identify and thus far harder to suppress.

No comments:

Post a Comment