Saturday, May 13, 2017

More Blowback from the North Caucasus: Russian Police Returning From There Brutalize Their Compatriots

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 13 – Russian militiamen and now police have never been noted for their politeness in dealing with Russian citizens, but those who have served in the North Caucasus as many now have are significantly more nasty and brutal to their compatriots than those who have not, according to Radio Liberty’s Yuliya Suguyeva.

            In an article today, she notes that the experiences that Russian policemen have in the North Caucasus incline them to be more brutal and more corrupt than their colleagues who are not sent there, yet another form of blowback from Moscow’s continuing war in the region (

            Russian policemen continue to be sent to the North Caucasus to help with what Moscow styles its “counter-terrorism effort.” This week alone, police from Ivanovo, Penza, Kostroma and Amur oblasts, Primorsky kray, and the republics of Buryatia and Tyva were dispatched there for “lengthy tours of duty.”

            One Chechen lawyer, speaking anonymously, said that he didn’t understand why Moscow continues to send Russian police to the North Caucasus and can only assume that it is part of the way, along with massive subsidies, that the center seeks to secure the loyalty of regional officials.

            Many local people are pleased to see the Russian police come, Suguyeva reports, because they behave much better than do their local counterparts.  But while that may be true, so too is something else: at least some and possibly many of the Russian police pick up the habits of the locals and when they return, they behave much worse than they did before.

            There is no question that the situation in the North Caucasus is less violent than it was 10 to 15 years ago, but human rights groups like Memorial say that the Russian siloviki “instead of shifting to the use of softer methods of ‘work’ with risk groups are to the contrary returning to harsh methods of the 1990s and early 2000s” (

            They are doing so, Memorial suggests, even though such actions radicalize the local population. But if the phenomenon Suguyeva points to is widespread, they may end not only with more terrorist attacks in Russian cities but also lead to the radicalization of Russians against the powers that be across the country. 

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