Sunday, May 20, 2018

North Caucasus Violence Continues Shift from Ethnic to Islamist – But with Enormous Ethnic Consequences

Paul Goble

            Staunton, May 20 – Yesterday’s attack on an Orthodox church in the capital of Chechnya reflects a continuation of the trend away from ethnically based violence to that motivated by Islamist groups, the result of Moscow’s downplaying of ethnicity in contrast to earlier efforts to use ethnicity to undermine Islam and of efforts by Islamic groups to fill the vacuum.

            But such religiously-based attacks have enormous ethnic consequences, given that religion in most cases follows ethnic lines, leading ever more ethnic Russians to leave the North Caucasus republics and investing the nationality of the peoples there with greater religious content. (See
            The Grozny attack in which four militants and congregation members and two policemen died, Kavkaz-Uzel reports today, “recalls the attack in Kizlyar and thus becomes the second case of an attack on Orthodox in the North Caucasus since the beginning of the year.  In the earlier attack in Daghestan, five people died (

                ISIS took responsibility for the earlier attack but it has not yet done so in the current one, although suggestions by Ramzan Kadyrov and others that the attack was directed from abroad suggest that in the view of the authorities at least, ISIS bears responsibility for the current act of violence as well.

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