Dagestan in May 2012, Terroristic Attacks and Special Operations: Logic of Escalation of the Confrontation

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May 30, 2012, 6:20:23 AM5/30/12
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Dagestan in May 2012, Terroristic Attacks and Special Operations: Logic of Escalation of the Confrontation

On May 25, 2012, the Independent Press Center held a press conference, "Who breaks the peace process in Dagestan?".

This press conference was conceived long before the tragic events in Makhachkala, before the terroristic act on 3 May and special operation on 18 May. In Dagestan, abductions and enforced disappearances continued up to these events - but after the attack, the situation has deteriorated seriously. Only during the first two weeks of May in the country ten people have been abducted. According to witnesses, all of the kidnappers were dressed in camouflage and masks and carrying automatic weapons. The location of some kidnapped is known - they are held in police departments.

However, special operation held on May 18 in Makhachkala and the subsequent riots in front of the Kirovskiy district police department forced us to shift the focus of the press conference.

Dagestan today – is one of the most dangerous regions in the sphere of defending of human rights. According to Oleg Orlov, head of the Human Rights Centre program "Hot Spots" among all the republics of Northern Caucasus there is the most acute military confrontation which takes place between the underground which uses the terroristic methods of struggle and the State. The ideological basis of the underground is Islamic fundamentalism (Salafism). But only small radical wing of the Salafis has become or supports underground. There is no reason to equate the entire Salafi community and supporters of the underground.

Underground is trying to force all of society of Dagestan his idea of proper Islamic way of life. State law enforcement agencies use state terrorism in respond to terrorism. Extrajudicial executions, abductions, tortures, secret prisons, fabrication of criminal cases became commonplace in Dagestan.

"About eighteen months ago the power finally realized the futility of such a policy ", - said Orlov. Then the new republican government started a dialogue with different sectors of society, including the Salafi communities. This dialogue is not easy, unsystematic, very controversial - but it exists. It is important that the dialogue has begun between religious and social forces and leaders of the Salafi communities that are close to the power.

But every time when the peace process is developing, it is derailed from both sides - both militants and government security forces.
The fact that the militants are trying to disrupt the possibility of dialogue between different sectors of society by demonstrative, provocative attacks is obvious and understandable. A terroristic act in Makhachkala, on May 3 ( "Memorial" has made a special statement after the attack:  http://www.memo.ru/eng/news/2012/05/05/0505123.html) was used for these reasons.

Four days before the bombing, on April 29, 2012, a significant event for the Caucasus happened – in Makhachkala there was a meeting (Majalis) of leaders of Sufi and Salafi movements, whose aim was the unification of Muslims and the smoothing of the religious controversy. As it was emphasized by Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, a member of the Human Rights Centre "Memorial", the project director of the International Crisis Group for the North Caucasus, an armed conflict in Dagestan has a strong religious connotation. Previously, the state attempted to solve this problem by making a bet on one side of the conflict - the Sufis, in fact, outlawing Salafism. State support of one side of the conflict has exacerbated intra-division and intensified civil strife.

During Majalis spiritual leaders talked about it and discussed the basis for the consolidation and constructive interaction. At the end of the meeting a resolution on the need to resolve all arising disputes through discussion in the scientific debate was adopted, which was created by a joint body composed of an equal number of Islamic scholars from both sides. This meeting was preceded by an unprecedented statement made by the Mufti of Dagestan, Akhmad-haji Abdullaev, who urged Muslims to be tolerant towards each other, and the police - to maintain law and order.

In the North Caucasus today, two models to combat the armed underground are used. One is typical for Chechnya and is aimed to the destruction of any militants and signs of Wahhabism. The second is "Dagestan model", which is based on understanding that the fundamentalist Islam exists in the North Caucasus, and it is a fact. Therefore it is necessary to develop mechanisms of co-existence with the moderate Salafis, and create channels for radical Salafis to return to civilian life on the basis of the social contract.

Such a policy of "soft power" rarely pays off instantly. It is a long process, which however is only way to lay the foundation for lasting peace. But dialogue satisfy neither radicals nor security forces. Militants disrupt the peace process by using bombings and killings. The siloviks are sabotaging the work of the Commission on adaptation, violate the guarantees given by the state to surrendered people, continue to violate human rights, and in turn, it is in interest of radicals. In such circumstances any clash can lead to full-scale confrontation. Russian public should follow what is happening in Dagestan, and support forces that are ready to cooperate for peace.

Elena Denisenko, a lawyer of Human Rights Center "Memorial" in the Republic of Dagestan, was at the perimeter of the cordon in a place of special operation in Makhachkala on May 18. She said that security forces for half a day prevented the exit from a blocked house of people who were there (for more details: http://www.memo.ru/eng/news/2012/05/21/2105121.html, http://www.memo.ru/eng/news/2012/05/22/2205122.html).

People, who gathered at the perimeter of the cordon, found that in the blocked house there were women and children who wanted to go out of there. However, for a long time raid leaders did not give them such an opportunity. In the morning, three women with two small children and one man were allowed to go out of the house and they were taken to the Kirovskiy district police department. Over 12 more hours the lawyer was not allowed to the man, there the man was beaten. It is about the fully innocent man who was finally released after questioning, without charge. Refuse of police to carry out provisions of the law provoked riots outside the police station.

Svetlana Gannushkina, a member of the Human Rights Centre "Memorial", the Chairman of the Committee "Civic Assistance", told about the negotiations to free the hostages during this raid. Human rights activists, who were on the phone with the head of special operation, with the trapped people in the house and with representatives of civil authorities, faced with a sudden reluctance of security officials holding any talks with either blocked  people or the local authorities. With the mediation of Svetlana Gannushkina and intervention of Rizvan Kurbanov, the Republican chairman of the Commission for adaptation of militants, security officials have made it possible for people to get out of a blocked house. According to Svetlana Gannushkina, siloviks initially lied to people who gathered at the site of the raid that women and children were released. The leaders did not want any mediation, and did not want to coordinate their actions, even with the powers of Dagestan. The siloviks refused to negotiate with people who were blocked, who in fact have become hostages. Siloviks do not have the aim to save the lives of people - both civilians and detained militants. Beating of the men and non-admission of the lawyer to him provoked negotive reaction of the population, which led to riots outside the police station.

At the press conference Burliat Danilina, a resident of Makhachkala, the mother of the kidnapped Timur Danilin told about the abduction of her son and asked for help in the searches (about the complete disappearance of  Danilin see http://www.memo.ru/eng/news/2012/05/16/1605122.html).

 The full text of Oleg Orlov, see: http://www.memo.ru/uploads/files/772.pdf (in Russain).

 May 30, 2012

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