Friday, July 1, 2016

Russia’s Siloviki Driving North Caucasians into the Arms of ISIS, Rights Activists Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, July 1 – The Russian siloviki by their arbitrary violence and obvious covering up of their own criminal acts are helping to radicalize young people in the North Caucasus and making the latter easy targets for recruitment by ISIS, according to rights activists from the region at a recent roundtable organized by Memorial and “Novaya gazeta.”

            Oleg Orlov, the head of Memorial’s “hot spots” program, said that the actions of the Russian forces in the North Caucasus were radicalizing people there not only by arbitrary acitons but also by creating an unjust totalitarian state to counter another one, “a cure,” he said, that “is no better than the ‘disease’” (

            Murad Magomedov, a Memorial lawyer in Daghestan, agreed, saying that putting people there on terrorist watch lists not only is illegal and arbitrary but is radicalizing young people and has convinced many Islamist radicals that they are doing exactly the right thing by provoking the Russian authorities to act as they are.

            Valery Khatazhukov, head of the Kabardino-Balkar Human Rights Defense Center, said that the actions of Russian siloviki are pushing young people into the underground, exactly the opposite result that Moscow says its forces are interested in.

            Irina Gordienko, a “Novaya gazeta” journalist, added that among the greatest victims of Russian siloviki tactics are women who are driven into the underground or even to the Middle East and then prevented from being able to return or put their children in schools. Some are driven out of their homes at the insistence of the Russian siloviki.

            But if anything, the report of Magomed Mutsolgov, the head of Ingushetia’s Mashr Human Rights Organization, provided the most damning report. He suggested that Russian siloviki are behind much of the wave of kidnappings and disappearances in the region and that their culpability is hidden by officials who refuse to investigate even when there is evidence.

            This is creating among young people a powerful feeling of injustice, he says, and as a result, “they are becoming more radical.”  Along with the absence of any social prospects, injustice plays a key role in “pushing young people” in that direction, again whatever Russian officials say.

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