Posts Tagged ‘Russia’

Volga Tatars (Tatarstan and the historical reg...

Volga Tatars (Tatarstan and the historical region of Idel-Ural; Ryazan Oblast, Tambov Oblast, Astrakhan Oblast Kazakistan and Central Asia) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An anti-terrorist operation in a residential district of Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, has just been completed. Three terrorists have been killed as a result. Unfortunately, two FSB officers have also been killed in the sting, but no civilians have been harmed. It is also reported that the body of one of the dead criminals had a device resembling a “suicide bomber’s belt.” Explosives experts are currently examining the device.

According to the Investigative Committee, the special operation in Tatarstan became possible after the whereabouts of the suspects in a prior terrorist act became known. The terrotists killed in Kazan were behind the attempt to kill the mufti of the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Tatarstan, and the killing of his deputy. When the republican FSB special forces attempted to detain the suspects, the terrorists resisted and detonated an explosive device, presumably a grenade. As a result the authorities have made the decision to launch an assault on the terrorsits’ apartment, located on the first floor of a building in Khimikov street in Kazan. All of the terrorists were destroyed.

We have already written that the terrorist underground is rapidly spreading through the Volga regions. We also wrote that the government is not always able to promptly and accurately respond to rather obvious signals of this movement. However, today’s special operation has demonstrated that intelligence services are carrying out investigative work ahead of the curve, because the “suicide bomber’s belt” found on the body of one of the terrorists was obviously assembled with ill intent.

We should note that very recently the Tatar mujahideen have posted a new message on the web, where the so-called forest brothers were urging their compatriots to join the armed jihad:

“Al-hamdu-Llyah, we, the Mujahideen, have taken this path to fight against the enemies of Islam. And these hypocrites who call themselves “traditional muslims” are the worst of creatures. They lay slander on Allah with their mouths, they are trying to distort the words of Allah,” the statement says. “And there is no such religion as “traditional Islam“, “moderate Islam” or “secular Islam.” It’s not even a sect or a derivative religious movement, it is pure deception and lies. The enemies of Islam have introduced heresy into the religion of Allah, and called it “traditional” to lead others astray from the true path of Allah … And those who do not follow them are labeled Wahhabis, and the Kafirs legitimize their persecution and murder …

They urge to obey the Kafirs, to obey their laws, to serve in their army … to celebrate holidays of the so-called Christians. They call Kafirs their leaders and call for obeisance to them …

When we learned that Faizov survived, we were a little upset. However, Al-hamdu-Llyah,  Allah has revealed to us how he eliminates his enemies. And we have seen how the key Kafir Putin arrives in Kazan and gives a medal to his faithful dog, who was ready to kneel and kiss the hands of his master.”

Around the same time Al Jazeera aired the message of a popular Islamic scholar Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who criticized Russia for its support of Syria:

“Brothers, Moscow these days has turned into an enemy of Islam and Muslims. It has evolved into the biggest enemy of Islam and Muslims, because it is opposed to the Syrian people. Arab and Islamic world must stand united against Russia. We should boycott Russia – our enemy number one.”

All these facts fit neatly into the theory of internationalization of radical Islam and the opening of a new war front against Russia.

 

UPDATE: According to the FSB, the destroyed terrorists have been identified. Among them were members of the Mingaliev gang, along with their leader, Rais Mingaliev, who was on the federal and international wanted lists. It is suspected that the gang is behind many of the assassinations of spiritual leaders in Tatarstan. Mingaliev has previously called himself on video the Emir of the Mujahideen of Tatarstan, and took responsibility for the attacks. The police have later said that the terrorist apartment has been on watch for a long time. While trying to arrest the terrorists, one of them detonated an explosive device, injuring two officers of the FSB (one later died). The others were detained as a result of the assault. According to the FSB the terrorists were preparing a series of attacks against civilians during the upcoming holiday of Eid al-Adha.

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Terror in Syria, Dagestan, Lybia and its reflections in Russia

Another live bomb exploded yesterday in Dagestan, killing a religious leader and six other people. Meanwhile, the Derbent region saw fatal shootings by a contract soldier, who killed several of his colleagues before being gunned down. These murders fit perfectly in a series of provocations aimed at destabilizing the situation not only in the Caucasus, but throughout the whole country.

Two tragedies

Yesterday in the Chirkey village of the Buinaksk district a suicide bomber came seeking audience with a religious figure, Said Afandi. To jump the queue, she said she was pregnant. Said Afandi was busy talking to a blind man and his 12-year-old son, but ordered the guards to let the woman pass. The murderer was not stopped by the presence of the child and activated her explosive device, which was stuffed with chopped nails. As a result, 7 people were killed, including Said Afandi. The bomber was identified only by her decapitated head.

The murder shocked the republic. Said Afandi had unquestioned authority and thousands of students. In the religious environment he was known as an opponent of radical Islam who made every effort to stabilize the situation in the republic. Afandi’s funeral in the village Chirkey was attended by tens of thousands of people, and Dagestan was officially in mourning.

Magomedsalam Magomedov, Head of Dagestan, comments:

“The killing of Sheikh Said Afandi al-Chirkey is yet another inhuman and cynical crime against outstanding personalities, religious figures of our society, which even today remain as role models for all of Dagestan’s people. It is these people that ideologists of terrorism are mortally afraid of.”

The Criminal Investigations Committee considers the murder to be connected with Afandi’s religious activity as the main motive.

But Dagestan was jolted by another tragic even on the same day. Contractor soldier Ramzan Aliyev of the local border police, shot two of his colleagues while on daily duty. He then proceeded to the barracks, where he killed five other privates and wounded four Special Rapid Response team members. He was killed by return fire. According to one theory, the killer could have been recruited by Wahhabimilitants.

Versions and consequences

All experts who comment the murder of Said Afandi indicate that, as an opponent of radicalism, he tried to establish dialogue between the traditionalists (to whom he belonged) and the Salafis. And to the surprise of many in this field he had achieved some success. Recently, with his assistance an agreement was reached between the Muslim Spiritual Board and the Ahl Sunnah Muslim organization, which consists of legal Salafis who do not approve of terror. Naturally, Afandi’s death dealt a serious blow to this agreement, as well as all future attempts to reconcile religious movements of the Caucasus.

Many experts, as well as the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation suggest that the terrorist Doku Umarov  is behind the murder as someone who is interested in maintaining  the terrorist threat in the Caucasus. It is also possible that the Arab monarchies had a hand in this tragedy. Afandi made no secret of his opposition to Wahhabism, the official religion of Saudi Arabia.

Be it as it may, the murder led to severe aggravation of the situation in Dagestan. Given that  Afandi had a very large number of followers, riots seem likely. So much so that even Magomedsalam Magomedov ordered the creation of self-defense units to patrol the streets.

“In every city, in every district we will organize self-defense units, squads of young people who are ready, under the direction and with guidance from the internal affairs authorities, to work to ensure public security, to punish these criminals and terrorists. This is an order to all heads of cities and regions,” – said Magomedov.

Some parallels

To those who are closely following these events it should probably be apparent that a wide spread offensive is unfolding before our very eyes, on the basis of spiritual life of the country. Its purpose is to fragment the fabric of society, impose mutual hatred and sow fear. Looking closely one can easily see that the same methods are used in the Caucusus and other regions of Russia. True, the Caucasus “Pussies” do not dance in mosques but rather blow them up, but such dances would be suicide in local conditions anyway. And in any case, they achieve the same result (incite hatred and fear) and are similarly rewarded (some obtain world fame, others – eternal life in heaven).

Another thought cannot leave out mind: the parellels with Syria are more than just coincidence. On the day of the terrorist attacks in Dagestan a double bombing took place in the suburbs of Damascus, killing dozens of people. One of the explosions thundered during a funeral ceremony, just like last weekend in Ingushetia. We are aware of strengthening ties between the Middle East and the Caucasus terrorist groups. For example, according to our latest information, Syria-based Islamists have announced partial transfer of their activity from Syria to the Caucasus, in particular to fight for the “liberation” of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Kazan, the capital of Tatarstan, is far from tranquility. Recent high-profile murders did not lead to a show of force spanking of the radicals by the authorities, which led them to increase in their activity. There is information about an upcoming series of mass demonstrations of Tatarstan nationalists and Islamists.

All of this suggests that these events are interconnected, and are a part of a wider onsluaght on the country. And, also as expected, this activity is increasing the closer we get to the anticipated “marches of millions” in the fall.

We are hearing increasing criticism of the authorities who allowed this situation to arise. It is difficult to argue with such critics, however, many readers do not understand that no authority, no one power can control everything at once. We need to take into account the fact that Russia is not being rocked by a single psychopath, but rather by networks with extensive financial and informational control. So the main question at the moment is not “how they have allowed this?” but rather “what will they do next?” We will follow and comment on these developments with utmost care.

 

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Recent reports of members of the Russian opposition flirting with nationalists and radical Islamists tend to confuse our readers. What game is this? Trivially indiscriminate associations, or a carefully calculated move to bring together different factions in an attempt to overthrow the “regime”? Perhaps an act of desperation? Let us consider Syria as an example where the merger of opposition and Islamists is rapidly taking place.

It is no longer a secret that Al Qaeda and other radical Islamic gangs are fighting against Assad. It is also no secret that the “freedom fighters” are not a homogenous group but rather a patchwork mob made up of groups supporting different interests. The most renown is the so-called “Free Syrian Army” (FSA), which, while being sponsored by the West, is forced to act under the guise of fighting for democracy and protection of human rights in order to maintain this image in the eyes of Western voters.

But the trouble is, the worse things are for the FSA, the stronger the pressure from Assad’s forces, the more of its members stop their democratic masquerade and join ranks with the Islamists. And there are good reasons for this. Firstly, the radicals’ ideals are much clearer to the rebels than alien European slogans. Secondly, Islamists enjoy strong financial support from Wahhabi sponsors around the world. Thirdly, it is widely known that Islamist militants get regular troop support from Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and other countries. Incidentally, this largely explains the confusion with military victories of the government forces. Every other day we receive reports of the Syrian Army freeing yet another area of ​​Aleppo from militant forces, only to have it re-taken by a new rebel regiment within a matter of days. The stream of people looking to join ranks with the radicals does not dry out, which certainly enhances their credibility within the FSA. In other words, the West, which has been unable to help the rebels win the war over the last one and a half years, is rapidly losing out to Islamist assurances of their firm intent to build a Wahhabi emirate in Syria.

Today one of the Syrian insurgent groups known as Al-Kaakaa broke away from the FSA and its slogans of democracy to join the Dzhabhat en-Nusra Islamist group, giving a bayat (oath of allegiance) to its Emir.

Dzhabhat en-Nusra is a Syrian Wahhabi organization known for its bold terrorist attacks and other ruthless crimes. One of its most recent public actions was the execution of 13 government soldiers, which the group had taken prisoner earlier. The militants thusly commented their grisly deed:

“Indeed, this act of vengeance is not to be separated from the one before it, and we wish for its continuation, so that we would kill and shed their blood (just as they have shed our blood), and that they and their patrons know that, Allah permitting, they will face agonizing death, a terrible end (in this life), and a terrible fate on Judgment Day!”

We would like to remind readers that just a little earlier one of the insurgent Aleppo commanders warned the US:

“We do not want al-Qaeda here, but if no one will help us, we will join them. We want them [the Western countries] to give us weapons for protection, or to carry out a military intervention. We are angry. Syrian people still like European countries, but if they continue in the same spirit, they will know only hate.”

By the way, the aforementioned Syrian Dzhabhat en-Nusra enjoys great prestige and honors from the Russian Wahhabis, which have sharply intensified their activity in the republics of the North Caucasus and the Volga region.

Rumors continue to circulate that Russian citizens participate in the war against Assad. Thus recently Rustam Gelayev, son of the Chechen militant Ruslan Gelayev, who was destroyed by Russian border police in 2004, was killed in Syria. On the other hand, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied Chechen involvement in the Syrian conflict, calling “Gelayev, Basayev and others” men without a homeland.

But lets turn back to the Russian “democratic opposition.” Note that its leaders made some demonstrative steps towards the Tatarstan separatists after passing of the new law on Foreign Agents, tougher penalties for rallies, and public allegations of links with the U.S. State Department. We doubt such actions by the opposition aim to intimidate their overseas sponsors, rather it looks like they are trying to blackmail the Russian government by threatening to merge in ecstasy with the separatists and the Wahhabis. On the other hand, perhaps they are just looking for some new faces to join their “march of millions.”

What is the bigger threat for Assad – chemical weapons or eggplant grenades? Is there an end to the Egyptian revolution? Why is Russia losing the fight against Wahhabism? All this and more in tomorrow’s edition of the Weekly Review.

August 23rd is the birthday anniversary of the prominent Russian politician Nikolai Muravyov-Amursky. This man, whose image is displayed on the five thousand rouble note, is known for his substantial contribution to the development of East Siberia and the Russian Far East. Today, some 150 years since, we have little idea how to properly dispose of his heritage. In the meantime, our Chinese neighbors are more than happy to take advantage of the region’s enormous resources for the benefit of their growing economy. Will we be able to use Siberia in a way that, 150 years from now, will make our descendants proud and grateful?

Dubious benefit

Some of the corporate media portray worst case scenarios of the Far East being inevitably run over by hordes of hungry Chinese, who lack the space to sustain continued population growth. Frankly, with equal probability we can expect a hungry alien invasion. And yet, it is foolish to deny the danger of Chinese expansion into Russian soil – it’s just that it will happen according to a completely different scenario.

This scenario is laid out in great detail in the co-operation program between the regions of the Far East and Eastern Siberia, Russia and Northeast China over the period 2009-2018, approved in 2009 by the leaders of Russia and China. After its publication the document caused quite a stir. The fact that it secured the position of Russia’s eastern regions as China’s raw materials appendage caused considerable outrage. Under the program, the Chinese are going to build numerous production facilities in their north-eastern provinces, which will use Russian raw materials. This means that the Russian territory will contain only mining and transportation resources, while the Chinese side will be home to processing and manufacturing of finished products. And even then, the Russian companies will be created using Chinese capital. It’s a great win for China, which will allow it to solve the problem of large-scale revival of its north-western provinces with the help of Russian natural resources. But what’s in it for us?

It was planned that Russia will develop a program that will help maximize profits from such cooperation with China. Not only from the sale of resources, but also from the powerful impulse that was bound to arise as a result of massive growth in cross-border trade. However, as time passed, the media’s hue and cry over the content of the program subsided, yet no coherent strategy for the Far East and Eastern Siberia is in sight.

New resource pipeline

In 2012 the problem resurfaced at the highest level. Sergei Shoigu (Moscow region Governor) proposed to create a state corporation for the development of Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. The structure was to have unprecedented powers of distribution of rights for exploitation of natural resources. The government supported this idea, but it was never implemented. Instead, it created the Ministry of Development of the Far East. But once again, without any single view as to the region’s strategy of development.

Obviously China plays a huge role in this process, which means that development of such a strategy should focus on the basis of building a relationship with her. According to some experts, China’s interest in gaining access to Russian resources far exceeds Russia’s willingness to sell them. Siberia’s vast timber, metals, energy and hydrocarbon resources are essential for the maintenance of China’s economic growth. Hence, it would seem that Russia as a competent seller should take advantage of this huge demand and bargain for the best of terms. Alas, this isn’t happening. Instead of adapting a prudent approach to the wealth of her East, Russia is planning to build another resource pipeline.

Key problems: transport and manpower

Among the major challenges facing the region are its lack of a developed transport infrastructure and outflow of workforce. In addition to its resources the Far East has strong potential to become a major transport corridor. Development of railways and roads in conjunction with the Vanino and Nakhodka ports, amongst others, can help create a powerful regional logistics hub, a kind of land-based Panama Canal.

No less acute is the problem of attracting workers. The situation is such that able young people continue to leave the region in an effort to move closer to the country’s center, or to China. This applies to professionals in all areas – from construction workers to scientists.

By the way, the conventional wisdom that the Far East is flooded with cheap Chinese labor, is not true.

Sergei Mazunin, chairman of the Khabarovsk regional branch of Opora Russia party as quoted by the Kommersant daily as saying that “Chinese citizens today often ask for salaries higher than their Russian counterparts. But the productivity of our workers is much lower. For example, logging companies confirm that a single brigade of Chinese workers outperforms three brigades of locals.”

In sum, development of the Far East requires extensive construction, but where will the manpower come from? There is no answer to this question still.

Summit as a chance to break the deadlock

Nevertheless, we would prefer to abstain from hopeless criticism of Far Eastern policy. Much attention is paid to the upcoming APEC summit in September 2012. For the first time it will be held in Russia on Russky island (yes, that’s the actual name), which was used as as a pretense for some large scale construction in the region, such as a bridge across the Golden Horn Bay, a bridge to Russky island and the Far Eastern Federal University.

It is assumed that during the summit Russia should be able to attract foreign investment in development projects in the region. Or at least the general idea:

According to President Putin, “The forthcoming summit is a significant political and economic event for the entire. Certainly, its success will allow Russia to strengthen its international position and help establish additional contacts with our partners in the region. But it is, above all, a good opportunity to focus resources on solutions to the many problems of our largest metropolis in the Far East, to make life more comfortable for its citizens, to position Vladivostok as the “Pacific Gate,” and Russia – as a promising center of international cooperation.”

But as usual, most skeptics do not expect any breakthroughs to write home about. Russia is a newcomer in the Asia-Pacific region, home to such economic sharks as China, the US, Japan and South Korea. So far, all of our attention was drawn to the West, but times change, and the East is increasingly attracting more and more attention. No doubt 150 years from now our descendants will glorify either our wisdom and prudence, or the Chinese.