2005-02-26

Keine Ruhe im Nordkaukasus

--- Auf dem Treffen Bushs mit Putin waren sich beide zumindest in einem Punkt einig: Der Tschetschenien-Konflikt f�llt unter das Kapitel Terror und hartes Vorgehen ist daher n�tig. Der sich auch an religi�sen Grenzen festmachende Kleinkrieg im Kaukasus, der seine j�ngste dramatische Eskalation im Geiseldrama in Beslan fand, kocht aber weiter vor sich hin und nimmt an Kraft weiter zu, berichtet die LA Times: Chechen rebel leader Shamil Basayev has long declared his intention to ignite war in the northern Caucasus and establish an Islamic state across the steep mountains and verdant plains that stretch between the Black and Caspian seas. Increasingly, his army appears to be made up not only of Chechens, but recruits from the republics surrounding it � along with fighters from other Muslim lands. Few of these places are well-known. But if the recent incidents are pinpointed on a map, they trace a line of instability across the entire north Caucasus region � in some ways, Russia's nightmare scenario. "It is becoming clearer and clearer that the Chechnya conflict is no longer an isolated one, confined to the borders of Chechnya, and it could even be said that the conflict has already lost its original ethnic and geographical localization," said Nikolai Silayev, a Caucasus analyst with the Moscow State Institute for International Relations. "The conflict is metastasizing." Police in Dagestan, the mountainous republic that shares a 335-mile border with Chechnya, are mindful that they are a crucial line of defense. Russia's southern perimeter, the mutinous edge of the empire through much of modern history, is deeply vulnerable. "We're walking on the edge of a razor here," Col. Abdul Musayev, a spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Interior police forces in Dagestan, confided recently. "We are the southern foundation, we are the bottom of Russia. If the disintegration of Russia happens, it will start in Dagestan." Yet the kind of large-scale, military-style response displayed in Makhachkala has repercussions of its own. Critics of the Kremlin's policy in the Caucasus say Russia's focus on shootouts and abducting suspected collaborators, as well as the ongoing misery of civilians across the region, ensures the continual creation of new militants. In Makhachkala, an estimated 60 residents whose homes were destroyed spent three weeks in a seedy downtown hotel with no heat, no food deliveries and no change of clothes. Only after they protested in the streets this month did officials repair the heat and begin delivering small aid packages. "There is literally nothing left of our house. No walls, nothing. As of today, we have nothing," said Tigran Magomedov, 33. "We were put up in these absolutely cold rooms. People waited and waited, and finally, they ran out of patience." His sister, Berliant Magomedova, 35, said citizens did not support the insurgents but were fed up with the police. "Who can say the situation is getting better?" she asked. "The cops get killed by the dozen on a regular basis. If they had been doing their jobs, they wouldn't have allowed those terrorists to enter our house." ... "It is a war going on, I can tell you that," the 28-year-old literature teacher said. "It is dangerous to live here. We're afraid all the time. You send your kids to school, and you wonder, are they going to come back? You go to the market, and you're afraid, because you don't know which market they're going to use as a target next.