Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Militant Underground in North Caucasus Becoming More Active, Russian Military Experts Say

Paul Goble

            Staunton, June 25 – After six months of relative quiescence, two violent clashes between armed civilians and the siloviki in the North Caucasus suggest the militant underground there is becoming more active. But one Daghestani observer says that in his republic, the siloviki may have orchestrated things to suggest that the militants are more threatening than they are.

            In Grozny yesterday, an armed man attacked a police post near the residence of Ramzan Kadyrov, just two days after police in Daghestan exchanged fire with the driver and passengers of a car they were seeking to stop. ISIS has claimed they were its militants, but no one has provided evidence of that (

                Three Russian military experts – Serge Goncharov of the Alpha Veterans Association, Aleksander Perendzhiyev, a military-political analyst, and retired FSB general Gennady Gudkov – agree but say that these two events do suggest that the militants in the region are becoming more active for one or another reason. 

            Goncharov says the two incidents are not connected but do indicate “the activation of militants in the North Caucasus, a position the other two agree with, suggesting that it may reflect the return of militants from Syria and Iraq, fights among clans, or the deteriorating socio-economic situation in the region at large.

            A more intriguing observation comes from Magomed Magomedov, a political observer with Makhachkala’s Chernovik online newspaper.  He says that he “does not exclude that the arrest of Chernovik editor Abudlmumin Gadzhiyev, protests about that and succeeding incidents are links in one chain.”

            “First, the siloviki accuse a journalist of terrorism, then occur spontaneous mass actions in his defense. Afteer that, numerous reports in Telegram channels of the siloviki that in the near future the activization of militant bands is possible, and at the end, shootings in two Caucasus republics.” 

If so – and available evidence doesn’t allow one to confirm or deny such suspicions --then, Magomedov says, “the force structures, having announced a serious activation of militants may justify Gadzhiyev’s detention in the eyes of the public.”  Were the siloviki to say there are no militants, their case against Gadzhiyev would look even more implausible than it does.

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