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No r t h C a u c a s u s a n d
Wester n B a l kans C omp are d

Janusz Bugajski

Washington, DC
February 2014


Published in the United States by
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1. Introduction: Comparing Conflict Zones...1
2. Federal Failures5
Yugoslavias Federal Fracture6
Russias Federal Frailties9
Centralization and Amalgamation13
Moscows Republican Relations..19
3. Ethno-National Disputes23
Ethnic Politics24
Northwest Caucasus Ethnic Rivalries.26
Northeast Caucasus Ethnic Rivalries.34
Western Balkan Ethnic Contests.40
Rising Russian Nationalism.46
4. Religious Dimensions..53
Religious Radicalism in North Caucasus...54
Regional Insurgency..59
Religious Radicalism in Western Balkans.67
The Struggle for Islam..73
5. Contested States and Outside Powers81
Spreading Insurrection.82
Anti-Liberation Strategies91
Emerging Entities..96
Regional Spillovers..102
International Intervention107


6. Conclusions and Recommendations111

North Caucasus and Western Balkans Compared.112
North Caucasus Policy Recommendations..121
Appendix I: Conflict Zone Maps165
Appendix II: North Caucasus Demographics167
Author Biography...174


Throughout the 20th century, the Balkans have been depicted as
Europes powder keg. In the first two decades of the 21st century,
the North Caucasus resembles a Eurasian powder keg and the
fuses are steadily burning. While the 1984 Winter Olympics in
Sarajevo were held on the eve of the Yugoslav wars, the 2014 Winter
Olympics in Sochi have been organized in the midst of an expanding
insurgency in the North Caucasus. To discern the causes and
consequences of the escalating conflicts in the North Caucasus, this
monograph compares conditions in the region with the former
Yugoslavia in the Western Balkans. The entire Russian Federation
itself can be juxtaposed with the defunct Yugoslav federation, but
that would be the subject for a much broader study.
Proactive Western policies may be pursued to deal with the impact
of instability in the North Caucasus by examining the drivers of
conflict and extrapolating likely scenarios in the regions
development. Conditions in the North Caucasus have been
compared to Afghanistan, with reference to multi-ethnicity, tribal
loyalties, and religious radicalism. While there is merit in such
analogies, the contrasts between the two cases are more significant.
Unlike the North Caucasus, Afghanistan was not part of a wider
state structure and did not fall under the control of imperial powers,
except for brief interludes such as the Soviet occupation. It does not
possess a federal system and is unlikely to splinter into embryonic


A more valuable comparison with the North Caucasus is the former

Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY), in which several
federal units were identified with a distinct ethno-national group.
These titular nationalities formed majorities in six of the eight
federal entitiesthe republics of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia,
Macedonia and Montenegro, and the autonomous region of Kosova
(Albanian). Two entities were so mixed ethnically that no single
group predominatedthe republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the
autonomous region of Vojvodina.
Although the Russian Federation, unlike Yugoslavia (land of the
South Slavs), is titled after only one ethnicity, six of the seven North
Caucasus republics are named after specific ethno-national groups,
even though they do not always constitute majorities. In Chechnya,
Ingushetia, and North OssetiaAlania, the titular nationalities form
clear majorities. In Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia
two ethnic groups are identified as titulars. In Adygea, Russian
ethnics form a majority and the Adygeans are a minority. In the
largest republic, Dagestan, the degree of multi-ethnic complexity
disables any ethno-national predominance. Two other federal units
are considered part of the North CaucasusKrasnodar krai and
Stavropol krai, both containing ethnic Russian majorities but with
growing non-Russian populations.
Yugoslavia was a multi-republican state structure that could not
contain internally generated political and ethnic disputes once the
communist system began to fracture and ethno-nationalism
emerged as the most effective tool of political mobilization. Indeed,
all three multi-republic federations in Eastern Europe unraveled in
the early 1990s: through peaceful negotiations in Czechoslovakia,
inter-ethnic wars in Yugoslavia, and a combination of war and peace
in the Soviet Union. Russia emerged as the only ethno-federal postSoviet structure, but its survival as a single state remains precarious.


Most of the explosive elements in the Western Balkans have been

defused since the Yugoslav wars were terminated at the end of the
1990s and seven new countries emerged with a clear path toward
membership in international institutions. Although some tensions
have persisted, the potential for violence has substantially receded.
In a worst-case scenario, parts of the region can descend into a gray
zone where splutters of reformist progress are followed by periods of
economic stagnation and democratic reversal.1 These conditions
would provide fertile terrain for nationalist extremism and create
pockets of conflict that would disqualify some states from European
Union membership. Such exclusion would in turn exacerbate local
disputes and place increasing strain on international actors,
including Washington.
The North Caucasus republics are currently part of the Russian
Federation. However, since the end of the Second Russo-Chechen
War in February 2000 when Moscow terminated Chechnyas
independence, security in the region remains fragile. Insurgent
campaigns and repressive government policies, in combination with
local conflicts over territory, statehood, political representation, and
religious authority, could escalate into large-scale, multi-republic
insurrections and even a regional war. With the federal and
republican security forces unable to contain the resulting
conflagration, the Russian Federation may begin to fracture. One
major consequence would be the creation of new state entities
whose existence would be contested by Moscow and whose
emergence could generate instability in the South Caucasus and
other nearby regions.
The policy debate over the North Caucasus has been limited because
the regions republics are viewed as a problem for Moscow to resolve
with minimal involvement by the West. However, this volatile
region increasingly resembles the Western Balkans in the 1990s

before and during the collapse of Yugoslaviaa conflict zone with
which Western policymakers are familiar. In comparing and
contrasting conditions in the North Caucasus with the Western
Balkans, this monograph investigates the following factors:

Russias federal structure and relations between the center and

the republics;
Ethno-national factors and inter-republican discords;
Islamic radicalism and regional insurgency;
International involvement in both conflict zones;
Impact of North Caucasus conflicts on the South Caucasus and
Western interests;
Recommendations for U.S. policy toward the North Caucasus.

The first Yugoslavia was established by agreements between Serbian,
Croatian, and Slovenian national leaders at the close of World War
One and following the collapse of the Ottoman and Habsburg
empires. The multi-national Yugoslav communist party led by
Marshall Josip Broz Tito established the second Yugoslavia in the
wake of World War Two after leading a war of resistance against
German occupation. The centralized communist system was
gradually loosened and under the 1974 constitution the leaders of
Yugoslavias six republics gained a measure of political autonomy.
In contrast with the Yugoslav experience, the nations of the North
Caucasus were forcibly conquered by Russia in the 19th century.
Under both Tsarist and Soviet rule, aspirations for independence
were violently subdued and local populations subjected to
genocide*, mass repression, and deportation. Unlike the original
Yugoslav program, the Russian and Soviet projects were imposed on
the subject peoples, and local elites were co-opted to ensure
Moscows control.
Officials in Moscow have periodically warned about the danger of
state implosion or the potential Yugoslavization of Russia, with
the emergence of several independent countries. Henry Hale and
Rein Taagepera point out that in former communist states only
those with federal structures (USSR, Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia)
*Please note: The Jamestown Foundation does not take a position on what
historical events do or do not constitute a genocide. As an organization, Jamestown
believes that ultimate judgment over how to define and classify these sorrowful and
notorious events of the past is best left to historians.

that invested their regional governments with ethnic content
collapsed. By contrast, ethnically diverse and even communally
divided countries survived, such as Romania with a unitary
administrative structure.2 Ethno-federal structures reinforced ethnic
identities and enabled regional leaders to play the national card in
pursuit of independence.
It is instructive to examine the similarities and contrasts between the
federal structures of former Socialist Yugoslavia and the current
Russian Federation in order to ascertain the latters vulnerability to
state fracture. In Socialist Yugoslavia, leaders of the Serbian
Republic and the Yugoslav military attempted to recentralize and
preserve the federation, culminating in widespread resistance and
ultimate collapse. Moscows attempts to enhance central control and
eliminate local autonomy in the North Caucasus resemble
Belgrades approach in the late 1980s. Such policies can exacerbate
conflict between the federal authorities, the leaders of the North
Caucasus republics, and the regions populations, and amplify calls
for outright secession.

Yugoslavias Federal Fracture

The Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) afforded a
measure of administrative autonomy to each republic, although a
single communist party was dominant. However, the extent of
political decentralization proved insufficient for ambitious national
elites in several republics whose political programs increasingly
focused on ethno-nationalism and independence.3 The ascent of
Slobodan Milosevic to power in the Serbian republic in the late
1980s reversed the decentralization process pursued since the mid1970s. After his rise to the leadership of the League of Communists
of Serbia in 1986, Milosevic recognized that the communist and
Yugoslav causes had lost their public utility. Instead, Milosevic fixed

his attention on reviving Serbian nationalism, recentralizing the
federation, and manipulating national grievances to consolidate his
In 19881989, Milosevic annulled the autonomy of Serbias two
autonomous regions (Kosova and Vojvodina) and emplaced a
political loyalist to head the republic of Montenegro. This reinforced
Serbias influence, as it gained control over four of the eight federal
subjects. A new Serbian constitution enacted on September 28, 1990,
further undermined the federal structure by underscoring that
Serbia was unified and unalienable, while buttressing the powers
of the Serbian presidency. Milosevic also attempted to strengthen
direct controls over all federal institutions and conducted a
sweeping purge of the armed forces.
The ethnification of Yugoslav politics and growing Serbian
nationalism contributed to a nationalist resurgence in other
republics. With Slovenia and Croatia declaring their independence
in June 1991, it was no longer feasible to hold the federation
together. Milosevic calculated that a smaller Serb-dominated
Yugoslavia could be crafted from the remaining territories. The
optimal goal was to keep Bosnia-Herzegovina, Macedonia, and
Montenegro inside the federation in addition to partitioned areas of
Croatia. When Bosniak Muslim and Bosnian Croat leaders declared
Bosnias independence in February 1992 and the Macedonian
government followed suit, Milosevic enabled a war of territorial
partition in Bosnia, similar to the one in Croatia in 1991.
The emergence of five new states in 19911992 engendered a variety
of nationalist impulses. They ranged from the relatively benign proindependence nationalism of Slovenia and the defensive nationalism
of Macedonia, to the xenophobic ethno-nationalism in BosniaHerzegovina exhibited by Serb and Croat militias backed by their
nationalist patrons in Serbia and Croatia. Their policies led to forced

expulsions and the mass murder of rival ethnic groups in order to
create ethnically exclusive territories controlled by authoritarian
politicians posing as national saviors.
Bosnia-Herzegovina found itself in a similar position as the
Yugoslav federation once Slovenia and Croatia withdrew from the
federal government. It was afflicted by polarization between leaders
of the three component nationsMuslim, Serb, and Croat. Serb
leaders asserted that they would not accept minority status in an
independent Bosnia-Herzegovina. Croat leaders charged that Serb
activists in league with the Milosevic regime were preparing a crisis
similar to the one engineered in Croatia.
Serbian moves toward secession were accompanied by a propaganda
barrage emanating from Belgrade, alleging that Muslims were intent
on transforming Bosnia into a militant Islamic state, in which Serbs
would be subject to persecution and genocide. Bosniak leaders
strenuously denied these charges and declared their support for a
secular, multi-ethnic, and democratic country. Indeed, on the eve of
armed hostilities there was no perceptible threat from either the
Muslim or Croat side to the safety of Serbian residents. In April
1992, the political impasse was transformed into an armed conflict
launched by Bosnia's Serb leaders. Militarily, Sarajevo was incapable
of either neutralizing the Serb forces or protecting Muslim residents.
The bulk of the Yugoslav army stationed in Bosnia-Herzegovina was
transformed into a new Bosnian Serb army commanded by a former
Yugoslav army general, Ratko Mladic.
With overwhelming firepower and material support from Belgrade,
Serbian troops overran nearly two-thirds of Bosnian territory.
Muslim forces were caught unprepared and suffered severe
casualties across the republic. Serbian ethnic cleansing operations
were comprehensively applied to terrorize Muslim communities and
create pure contiguous Serbian territories across western, northern,

and eastern Bosnia-Herzegovina. As the war escalated, Bosnian
Croat leaders formed their own army and government structures
and expelled Muslim residents from territories where they claimed
exclusive control.
A separate Serb Republic was declared inside Bosnia, intended to
link up with Serb-captured territories in Croatia and to merge with
the rump Yugoslavia, consisting of the republics of Serbia and
Montenegro. Croatian nationalists claimed about one-fifth of
Bosnia, particularly those municipalities in western Herzegovina
where Croats formed majorities. The NATO intervention in the
summer of 1995 enabled Zagreb to regain the Serb separatist
territories in Croatia, while the Dayton accords signed in November
1995 and accompanied by a NATO ground force ended the
hostilities in Bosnia and created a two-entity confederation under
international supervision: a Muslim-Croat federation and a Serb
The final cracks in the Yugoslav federal experiment surfaced in
1999. The attempted expulsion of the Albanian majority from
Kosova by Serbian forces precipitated a NATO intervention, the
separation of Kosova from Serbia, and the creation of the new state
of Kosova in February 2008. In addition, the republic of
Montenegro restored its independence and statehood in June 2006
following a public referendum. With the rump Yugoslavia dissolved,
Serbia itself became a separate state but with a truncated territory
and new international borders.

Russias Federal Frailties

The fragility of the Russian Federation has deeper historical roots
than those of ex-Yugoslavia, and the Russian nation-state has
shallower traditions than those of Serbiathe dominant player in

the closing stages of Yugoslavia. The Russian state became an
empire before the Russian people became a nation.4 The transition
from empire to nation-state remains incomplete and the Kremlins
attempts to construct an all-Russian identity are widely rejected as
a form of Russification and Moscow-centrism. Russians continue to
grapple with their own identity, with the structure and parameters
of the state, and their relations with non-Russian ethnicities. The
latter form almost 20% of Russias population of 142,946,800,
according to the 2010 census.
Although Russia may not fracture primarily because of the growing
turmoil in the North Caucasus, the region is important for Russia as
a precedent and potential trigger for disintegration. 5 Moscows
policy of coercive centralization is not a successful recipe for
maintaining a single state structure in an ethnically and religiously
complex territory.6 Reliance on local elites engaged in corruption
and repression in the midst of economic stagnation simply
encourages regional insurrection. Conversely, the granting of
greater local autonomy in conditions of economic distress could also
energize forces seeking full sovereignty from Russia.
Several Russian analysts and former intelligence officers have
warned about the countrys prospective partition due to the absence
of a unifying ideology and the rise of Russian nationalism. Viktor
Suvorov, a military intelligence officer who defected to Great
Britain, believes that the Russian Federation will disintegrate during
the next two decades and that Putin will be the last President.7
Among the causes listed by Suvorov are the growing gulf between
the Russian people and the Kremlin, ethnic conflicts, regional
competition, and military demoralization. In an indication of
creeping separation, despite a shortage of military recruits Moscow
only drafts a small number of indigenous Chechens, Ingush and
Dagestanis into the Russian army.8 The government is fearful of
conflicts with Slavic soldiers and calculates that after gaining

military experience the North Caucasians could join the insurgents.
As a consequence, mono-ethnic Russian units will increasingly be
viewed in the North Caucasus as representatives of an occupying
Ivan Starikov, economics professor at Moscows Presidential
Academy of Economics and State Service, enumerates five reasons
for an impending federal collapse.9 These include: the erosion of
central authority, over-reliance on raw materials for economic
growth, collapse of the countrys scientific and technical base, lack of
investment in infrastructure, and spreading sentiments in many
regions that they are merely Moscows colonies.
The breakup of the Soviet Union led to changes in the legal status of
autonomous regions in the North Caucasus.10 According to two
Soviet laws passed in April 1990, the distinctions between Union
Republics (UR) and Autonomous Republics (AR) were removed so
that in principle the latter could also secede in the same way that
Russia was able to separate from the USSR. 11 Although many
republics within the Russian Federation adopted a declaration of
sovereignty in 19901992, Moscow had a different conception of
sovereignty. It claimed that the degree of state sovereignty of the
Russian Federation was not equivalent to the sovereignty of
republics that were part of that federation. However, the wording in
most republican constitutions presumed that the federal center and
the autonomies possessed equal rights.
For instance, Article 1 of the constitution of Adygea declared it a
sovereign state within Russia, but Article 53 specified that Adygea
reserved the right to nullify its commitments to the Federation
Treaty if the latter was violated by the central government.12 This
indicated the possible secession of Adygea on the basis of a decision
by one of the parties to the treaty. Article 1 of the constitution of
Dagestan asserted the priority of republican laws over federal ones,

and Article 70 stated: the Republic of Dagestan reserves the right to
alter its state legal status on the basis of the will of the Dagestani
Article 62 of the constitution of North OssetiaAlania asserted that
if the Russian Federation fails to fulfill the commitments that it has
taken upon itself in accordance with the Constitution of the Russian
Federation and the Federation Treaty in relation to the Republic of
North Ossetia-Alania, then North OssetiaAlania reserves the right
to exercise appropriate authority independently. Article 7 of the
constitution of Ingushetia declared the priority of republican laws
over federal ones. Article 1 of Chechnyas constitution declared the
creation of an independent state.13
Andrey Zakharov, a prominent Russian specialist on federal
systems, contends that Russian federalism is a sleeping institution
that could re-awaken, similarly to Soviet federalism in the 1980s,
and lead to the secession of one or more federal units.14 Many of the
federal entities possess a legal basis for full sovereignty and
secession. According to Olga Tynyanova at the International Law
Institute of the Russian Federation Ministry of Justice, despite
measures to centralize the state under Putins administration, the
federation still preserves the legislative base of regional and ethnopolitical disintegration in the border areas.15
Only three of Russias 83 federal units recognize in their
constitutions that their territories are inalienable parts of the
Russian Federation. According to Tynyanova, the institutional and
legislative guarantees for the countrys territorial integrity are quite
unreliable. If an unforeseen political weakening of the federal center
occurs, there is a high likelihood that the countrys federative
structure will be shattered.
The 1992 Russian Federation Treaty gave all ethnic republics the

attributes of statehood, including constitutions, parliaments,
supreme courts, presidents, and official languages.16 This quasiconfederal arrangement probably prevented the initial breakup of
the federation, but was eroded under Vladimir Putins presidency
because the Kremlin feared that it would strengthen moves toward
secession. In May 2000, in one of his first decrees, newly elected
Putin launched major administrative reforms to strengthen the
power vertical and increase Moscows controls over the republics.
This was accomplished by establishing a system of seven federal
districts (okruga) and the appointment of presidential
plenipotentiaries (polpredy) to oversee the seven districts.
The North Caucasus was initially assigned to the Southern Federal
District (SFD), which included all seven republicsAdygea,
Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North OssetiaAlania, KabardinoBalkaria, and Karachay-Cherkessiatogether with Stavropol krai
and Krasnodar krai, and with its administrative center in Rostovon-Don. In February 2010, President Dmitry Medvedev announced
the creation of the North Caucasus Federal District (NCFD) with
Alexander Khloponin as the Presidents plenipotentiary based in
Piatigorsk, Stavropol krai. It included six republicsDagestan,
Chechnya, Ingushetia, North OssetiaAlania, Kabardino-Balkaria,
and Karachay-Cherkessiatogether with Stavropol krai. The new
district split the North Caucasus on an east-west axis to try and
insulate the western regions from the insurgency.

Centralization and Amalgamation

Moscow augmented its control over the federal structure by directly
appointing local governors or executive heads in all 83 federal units,
redrafting local constitutions to make them compatible with the
Federal Constitution, and providing the federal security forces with
a more pronounced role in local affairs. 17 The Kremlin has

periodically changed republican leaders, depending on their success
in combating the insurgency. In October 2004, Putin abolished all
direct elections of presidents of republics and heads of oblasts and
krais. The leaders of Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, and North
OssetiaAlania were replaced in 20052006 by Kremlin
appointees.18 Such a strategy achieved little in combating insurgent
networks since the installed leaders lacked local legitimacy.
In 2005, the influence of Russias regions in the State Duma
(parliament) was reduced when single-mandate seats were
abolished. Members were now elected from party lists by
proportional representation and the electoral threshold for parties
was raised from 5% to 7% of the vote. There are no regional parties
in the North Caucasus, and since 2008, Putins United Russia party
has gained a majority in all regional assemblies and almost all
republican heads are party members.19 Funding for regions most
heavily reliant on federal subsidies is partly based on how strongly
they support United Russia during elections.20 Moscows policies
have corrupted republican leaders, eliminated their electoral
accountability, increased calls for local autonomy, and raised
resentments among the Russian majority elsewhere in the
Federation against providing economic assistance to the North
Kremlin subsidies to the North Caucasus are among the highest in
the country. In 2012, they ranged from 85% of the republican
budget in Ingushetia to 56% in North OssetiaAlania. 21 Large
subsidies may have pacified sections of the elite but have done little
to alleviate chronic maladies such as economic stagnation, rampant
corruption, infrastructural decay, environmental degradation and
organized crime. They also ensure that regional governments have
limited fiscal autonomy.
During Putins tenure, direct central controls and the emplacement

of regional administrators has undermined nascent moves toward
genuine federalism, reduced elite accountability, increased official
corruption, heightened public alienation from Moscow, and
exacerbated radical opposition to the republican administrations.
Moscows control and subsidization failed to improve economic
conditions or to provide greater public security but contributed to
creating greater material disparities between a small elite and a mass
of impoverished residents. At a session of the Government
Commission for the Development of the North Caucasus Federal
District on August 19, 2013, Prime Minister Medvedev admitted
that the regions problems were increasingly acute.22 The idea of
stimulating economic development through tourism tied to the
Sochi Olympics had failed, as resources were wasted and corruption
Moscows appointees have heightened separatist sentiments, as was
the case in May 2002 with the manipulated election of Ingushetias
governor Murat Zyazikov. During Zyazikovs term in office, an
opposition Peoples Assembly composed of emissaries from nearly
two dozen clans called for Ingushetias secession from Russia if
Zyazikov was not replaced. President Medvedev dismissed Zyazikov
on October 30, 2008, and Colonel Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was
approved by the Ingush legislature.23
On April 2, 2013, President Putin signed into law amendments that
allow regional parliaments to choose the form of elections for
governors, either through a direct vote or a ballot in parliament.24
These amendments restrict the ability of citizens to elect local
leaders. In most cases, the Russian President proposes a candidate
and the republican parliament confirms his nominee.25 The Kremlin
seeks loyalists throughout the region, while citizens are unable to
hold republican authorities accountable or to participate in political
life. These conditions differ from Yugoslavia on the eve of its
collapse, where a spectrum of political parties mushroomed before

the first democratic elections in each republic during 1990. Neither
the federal nor the Serbian government possessed sufficient political
or economic instruments to control the process in Slovenia, Croatia,
Bosnia-Herzegovina or Macedonia.
The Kremlin wanted to finalize its North Caucasus appointments
before the Sochi Olympics in February 2014 and create an
impression of stability. On September 9, 2013, the head of
Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, was elected by the republics
parliament. The North Ossetian parliament approved a bill to
abolish the election of the republics head by popular vote. The
governor of Kabardino-Balkaria, Arsen Kanokov, was replaced on
December 6, 2013, by a Russian security officer, General Yuri
Kokov, as the security situation steadily deteriorated in the
republic.26 Kanokov also aroused Kremlin displeasure by failing to
quell the Circassian national resurgence and by financing the
immigration of about 1,000 Syrian Circassians. 27 However,
Circassian activists were also critical of Kanokov for his
unwillingness to defend broader Circassian interests.28
The Kremlin can remove republican heads that are not considered
sufficiently effective in combating insurgents or curbing public
unrest. For example, at the end of January 2013, Moscow removed
the President of Dagestan, Magomedsalam Magomedov, and
appointed Ramazan Abdulatipov in his place. On September 9,
2013, Abdulatipov received 86 of 88 votes in Dagestans parliament
in indirect elections for the republics President. Abdulatipov has
appointed people who are personally loyal to him, but this is
unsettling Dagestans complex ethnic balancing because previous
leaders conducted negotiations with diverse local elites.
The centralized Chechen model imposed by Moscow after the 1999
2000 war is unlikely to work in Dagestan because of the republics
ethnic diversity. The Kremlins administrative recentralization

undermines the complex structure of inter-ethnic balancing that has
kept the republic relatively stable.29 As elites look toward Moscow
for legitimation rather than to their constituencies, factionalism and
corruption accelerate. The Kremlin aims to counter Dagestans
national fragmentation by eliminating ethnic electoral districts,
appointing a chief executive, and building a hierarchical power
structure around a small group of officials. However, such changes
subvert the system of group compromises that maintained cohesion.
Moscows meddling benefits the larger ethnic groups and
disenfranchises numerous smaller ethnicities, whose leaders grow
more militant in response.30
Following the June 1, 2013 arrest of the mayor of Makhachkala, Said
Amirov, by an elite Federal Security Service (FSB) commando unit,
experts predicted a dangerous power vacuum in the republic.31
Amirovs chief rival, President Abdulatipov, evidently convinced
Russias leadership that Amirov was the main source of Dagestans
problems. Although Moscow can remove even the most influential
people and emplace more pliant leaders, it cannot conduct any
meaningful reforms.32 Direct rule from Moscow does not ensure
stability, but will generate ungovernability as the people installed
will have limited influence, thereby stimulating radical alternatives.
One overarching danger for Russias survival is the proposal to
transform the country into a unitary nation-state defined by the
Russian ethnos. This would place the Russian Federation more
firmly on a Yugoslav trajectory toward disintegration. Milosevics
attempts at recentralization under greater Serbian influence
accelerated demands for a looser confederal structure or outright
secession among other republics. Centralization also did not save
the USSR from collapse, and any moves toward Russias unitarism
are likely to provoke separatism in several republics and other
federal entities.

Centralizing trends and Russification efforts are evident in
proposals for regional amalgamation to reduce the number of
federal units. Kremlin officials have recommended eliminating
several non-Russian republics and decreasing the number of federal
subjects from 83 to 25, organized on a territorial rather than ethnotitular basis. Although such schemes are intended to increase central
control and undercut regional autonomy, they may exacerbate
resentment, instability and conflict between Moscow and the
regions.33 Milosevic conducted similar moves when consolidating
Serbias predominance in the eight-unit Yugoslav Federation by
eliminating the autonomy of Kosova and Vojvodina and reducing
Montenegros sovereignty.
Paradoxically, Putins push to enlarge some of Russias regions
through amalgamation, perhaps by merging several entities within
the seven federal districts created in 2000, could make Russias
collapse even more plausible.34 Reducing the number of federal units
may enable local leaders to cooperate more closely in opposition to
Moscow. Investing the new macro-regions with real economic and
political content will raise perceptions that they are economically
viable as independent states. Regional enlargement can promote the
development of distinct macro-regional identities as the basis for
Residents in the ethno-titular republics are increasingly conscious of
their constitutional status and agitated when local officials
appointed by Moscow ignore them.35 Such sentiments will grow in
response to proposals that non-Russian republics be disbanded and
amalgamated into larger and predominantly ethnic Russian entities.
The prime example of merger plans in the North Caucasus revolves
around Adygea, which Moscow has planned to incorporate in
predominantly Russian Krasnodar krai. In response, Adygean and
Circassian communities from across the region warned that any

push to nullify Adygeas status would spark a movement to unify
many of the historic Circassian territories.36
Adygeas President, Hazret Medzhidovich Sovman, opposed the
idea of combining Adygea and Krasnodar krai, which would further
marginalize the Circassian language and culture. Facing open revolt
in Adygea, in October 2006 Moscow postponed the merger proposal
and instead replaced the republics President Hazret Sovman with
Aslan Tkhakushinov, who initiated a more gradual transfer of
control over Adygeas institutions to the Krasnodar authorities.
Various official proposals have been circulating in reorganizing
Russias mega-regions, including plans to combine Dagestan,
Ingushetia, and Chechnya in a single Northeast Caucasus Federal
District, and fusing Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and
North OssetiaAlania in the NCFD.37 The latter proposal may have
the unintended consequence of mobilizing Circassian nationalism
across republican borders. Some local analysts believe that Putins
plan for regional amalgamation is also behind Chechen leader
Ramzan Kadyrovs territorial claims on portions of Ingushetia.
Magomed Mutsolgov, an Ingush legal rights activist, asserts that the
territorial conflicts between Chechens and Ingush have re-emerged
because of intrigues in Moscow to divide and rule the region and
reward Kadyrov for his loyalty.38

Moscows Republican Relations

In ex-Yugoslavia, relations between Belgrade and several republican
capitals deteriorated sharply during the late 1980s and early 1990s,
as the struggle between centralization and decentralization
intensified and raised aspirations for outright secession. Resentment
in the northern republics of Slovenia and Croatia, which provided
substantial economic assistance to the poorer southern republics,
accelerated calls for separation and independence. In the North

Caucasus, Moscow has largely contained direct political opposition
to the central authorities by providing substantial financial
resources to republican leaders in order to maintain their loyalty
and dampen any movement toward independence. In 2012, Moscow
approved a new State Program for the North Caucasus, allocating
2.5 trillion rubles ($80.9 billion) in spending on the region over the
coming thirteen years.39 The center was subsidizing the republics
with about 75% of their budgets.40 However, federal subsidies were
not effectively used to tackle chronic underdevelopment.
Russias State Program for economic development has echoes of the
federal program pursued by the Ante Markovic government in
Yugoslavia (19891991), which was supposed to stimulate economic
growth on the eve of disintegration. Presidential envoy Khloponin
elaborated Moscows proposals in December 2012.41 The main goal
was to establish centers of economic growth and industrial tourist
zones by coordinating state and business strategies in the region.
Despite these pledges, analysts expect minimal impact as any
allocated money will be squandered or line the pockets of corrupt
politicians. Preparations for the Sochi Winter Olympics
demonstrated that the underlying objective of Kremlin policy in the
North Caucasus is not focused on economic development. Moscow
established an extra-constitutional zone around Sochi that
stripped local residents of any legal protections, while the extensive
corruption involved in Olympic construction projects will ensure
few durable economic benefits to the broader region.42
A number of political, social, and economic factors create an
explosive concoction. The corruption and arbitrariness of ruling
elites in the North Caucasus alienate the public and drive more
people toward Islamic radicalism.43 There are no democratic outlets
for dissent and opposition as non-governmental organizations are
virtually absent. Unlike Yugoslavia before its extinction, there are no
officially registered parties that can campaign for either reform or

secession. Unfavorable economic conditions contribute to
exacerbating social turmoil and youth estrangement. The entire
region exhibits high unemployment, low incomes, widespread
poverty, an extensive black market, and the withering of physical
infrastructure. The average unemployment rate is estimated at over
20%, with some republics registering the highest levels in the
Russian Federation. Unemployment has reached 48.9% in
Ingushetia and 27.2% in Chechnya.44
The addition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, annexed by Russian
forces from Georgia in August 2008 and fully dependent on Moscow
economically and militarily, will further deplete state resources. It
will contribute to instability inside Russia irrespective of whether
the federation formally absorbs the two regions. As long as its
energy earnings were high, Moscow was confident that it could
extinguish unrest in the North Caucasus through financial
assistance to local authorities. However, as the federal governments
ability to fund the regions diminishes, its room for maneuver
shrinks. Moscows sponsorship of local elites is a tactical ploy and
not a viable long-term strategy, especially if economic conditions
stagnate or pressures to reduce Russias subsidization intensify. The
likely cutbacks in federal funding to the regions after the enormous
outlay for the Sochi Olympics will also contribute to destabilization.
An additional vexing question is the absence of any ethnically
Russian republics in the Federation, which constrains the emergence
of a Russian nation-state. To resolve this problem there are two
main options: either the elimination of all national republics or the
creation of Russian national republics by combining regions where
the Russian population predominates, such as Central and North
Russia, the Volga region, and the Urals. The first option would
spark inter-ethnic and territorial disputes and raise demands for
secession among the larger nationalities. The latter alternative could

also precipitate federal fracturing, as each Russian republic would be
less restrained in moving toward sovereignty.
In the North Caucasus, the benefits of remaining in the federation
may be increasingly outweighed by the costs. The systematic
brutality of state security forces against civilians has fueled
vendettas, encouraged recruitment for insurgency movements, and
reduced the legitimacy of republican governments. The Kremlin
could decide to employ greater force against armed rebels and other
liberation movements and thereby provoke a broader insurgency, or
it may manipulate inter-ethnic grievances, thus further
undermining the legitimacy of republican leaders. Alternatively,
local leaders fearing a loss of power and resources once the Kremlin
scales back its subsidies could exploit ethnic or religious identities
and even support territorial autonomy or outright separatism to
their advantage. This would place them in direct confrontation with
the Kremlin, as was the case between republican capitals and the
federal center in Belgrade before the Yugoslav wars erupted in 1991.


Both the Western Balkans and the North Caucasus contain a
multitude of nationalities in which ethnic, administrative, and state
boundaries do not always coincide. Such conditions can be volatile
where statehood has been denied for sizeable ethnic groups or where
there is competition over land, resources, and political office. Ethnonationalism in the North Caucasus is generating local conflicts,
deepening alienation from Moscow, and fostering the emergence of
a separate regional identity that increasingly estranges the area from
Russia. 45 Disputes within and between several republics also
compound historical grievances, on which Moscow can capitalize.
However, attempts at pacification will prove progressively costly
and unworkable, as political opposition, inter-communal conflicts,
and armed insurgency escalate.
In the Western Balkans significant progress has been registered
since the wars in the 1990s, especially in constructing democratic
institutions and settling border disputes. Some countries have also
joined both NATO and the EU. Nonetheless, if economic conditions
stagnate or entry into the EU is indefinitely delayed, public
alienation and resentment could deepen and ethno-nationalism
would gain new adherents. Such sentiments can be turned against
ethnic and religious minorities or toward broader causes, such as
border revisions and territorial acquisitions that fuel conflicts with
nearby states and with international institutions.



Ethnic Politics
The notion of historically constant inter-ethnic conflicts in the
North Caucasus and the Western Balkans must be treated with
caution. Even where disputes existed between members of ethnic
groups, they rarely escalated into organized inter-communal
violence in the former Yugoslav zone prior to the 20th century. In the
North Caucasus, it was primarily the intrusion of outside powers,
particularly Russia, which fostered conflicts. This was evident in the
post-Soviet land disputes between North OssetiaAlania and
Ingushetia, a legacy of Soviet nationalities policy and administrative
In the post-communist setting, ethno-nationalists came to the
forefront demanding that ethnic boundaries correspond with
political units. Some exhibited a pronounced ethno-centric bias,
asserting the primacy of their ethnic groups culture, history and
language. By focusing on ethnic protection, ultra-nationalist
leaders exclude various categories of non-members as
untrustworthy aliens. Xenophobic nationalists operate on the
assumption that a perceived domestic or foreign threat helps to
unite a nation. This can lead to discrimination against minorities
and provoke hostility toward neighboring states.
Where wrenching economic reforms fail to bring tangible benefits
to sizable sectors of the population, ethno-nationalists gain political
opportunities. The perception of internal or external threat can also
act as a catalyst for the emergence of authoritarian regimes
espousing national unity and displaying intolerance toward
authoritarianism by fostering an intolerant political climate on the
pretext of defending endangered national interests. The proponents
of a civic society, based on a balance between individual and

minority group rights, on unrestricted political competition, an
open mass media, and the rule of law, may thereby face an uphill
struggle against a pervasive current of nationalist threat.
Even where nationalists do not hold political office, they can play a
destabilizing role by provoking conflicts with minorities and
berating the government for allegedly neglecting the countrys
national interests. The long-term impact of nationalist movements
is contingent upon a number of factors, including the extent of
competition, cross-party consensus, economic stabilization, transethnic citizenship, and legalized minority rights.
Yugoslavia proved a valuable case study of how the growth of
nationalism among one nationality can trigger an escalation of
competition between leaders of two or more ethnic groups.
Nationalism is declared to be an act of self-defense against
discrimination, repression, expulsion, or physical annihilation. Such
fears encourage nationalist leaders to seek an ethnically
homogeneous state, where the dominant ethnicity is constitutionally
defined as the sole state-creating nation.
In ex-Yugoslavia, the Serbs were the largest state-forming nation.
Yugoslav ruler Marshal Tito endeavored to curtail Serbian political
hegemony by devolving significant powers to the republics and
autonomous regions and promoting ethnic quotas favoring nonSerbs. Milosevic sought to reverse these policies by inserting loyalist
Serbs to the leadership of the republican communist structures and
the governments of several federal units. Ethnic favoritism sparked a
countervailing policy of nationalism in the northern republics of
Slovenia and Croatia and led to the elimination of Serb influence
from these emerging states.


Milosevic and other republican leaders manipulated ethnonationalism to mobilize the population in the cause of purportedly
endangered national interests. This maneuver resulted in the
dissolution of federal authority and the declaration of independence
by several republics. It culminated in outright war, as the Serbian
government launched an armed campaign to either maintain
Yugoslav unity or establish a larger Serbian state that would include
territories in neighboring republics possessing sizeable Serbian
populations. Republican governments armed themselves to prevent
such scenarios and proclaimed independent states. The expulsion
and slaughter of other ethnic groups were justified as a form of
protection and pre-emptive action to create ethnically homogenous
and territorially integrated states. Although the North Caucasus has
not reached this level of inter-ethnic conflict, the ingredients for
such confrontations exist, given the long-standing rivalries over
territories and resources and the presence of a neo-imperial power
that can exacerbate these disputes.

Northwest Caucasus Ethnic Rivalries

Traditionally, the ethnicities in the northwest Caucasus were
organized according to principles of kinship loyalty, territorial
autonomy, and resistance to outside conquerors, including various
incarnations of Russia. The Tsarist regime perpetrated mass
slaughters and expulsions in the 19th century to subdue and
incorporate the region within the Russian empire. The Soviet regime
fragmented the region into controllable units in order to eliminate
any opportunity for a North Caucasus alliance. It fostered ethnic,
linguistic and religious divisions by establishing several autonomous
republics whose sovereignty was limited by the centralized
communist system. Moscow claimed that without Soviet rule, the
region would dissolve into conflict. In reality, Soviet policy
contributed to subsequent inter-ethnic disputes through its border

delineations, national deportations, and suppression of indigenous
The North Caucasus possesses a three-tiered identity: ethnic,
religious, and a regional consciousness that, alongside Islam,
transcends ethnicity. Similarly to Yugoslavism in the Western
Balkans, a Russian state (Rossianie) identity is weak and fading. An
integral component of North Caucasus regional solidarity is
opposition to Moscows rule, drawing on memories of resistance
against Russian colonization. 47 The motives of contemporary
insurgents should not be reduced solely to religious radicalism, as
ethnic nationalism does not disappear during periods of intense
turmoil but can resurface with a vengeance.48 Ethno-nationalists are
more numerous than Islamic radicals, but because they generally do
not resort to violence they may be less visible.49 Moscow seeks to
downplay the question of national separatism, contending that
regional unrest is the result of Islamic militancy and international
subversion.50 As Walter Richmond points out, militant Salafism has
been co-opted by radicals whose primary goals are nationalist,
tribal, separatist, and unrelated to the central tenets of Islam.51
Moscow has manipulated inter-ethnic rivalries in a classic strategy
of divide and rule.52 It seeks to deflect dissatisfaction with the
center toward local inter-ethnic relations and thereby undercut
moves toward republican autonomy. The Soviet regime split some
nationalities among several republics to undermine the impetus for
independence, and balanced ethnic political representation in each
republic to prevent the dominance of any one group. The repressive
Soviet state combated all manifestations of national independence,
but the Russian Federation does not possess the capabilities for
engaging in mass repression to ensure absolute political control.
Nationality disputes in the North Caucasus indicate that ethnic
factors are on the rise. 53 Moscow can manipulate inter-ethnic

frictions to pose as a benevolent mediator or as an essential presence
to prevent outright war. It may also play the role of Milosevics
Serbia in the Yugoslav federation by pushing for border changes
among the republics or territorial mergers with neighboring Russian
regions on the pretext of defending ethnic-Russian or indigenous
populations that demonstrate loyalty to Moscow.
In the northwest Caucasus, the Soviet goal was to divide the
Circassian and Turkic peoples and lock them into a perpetual
conflict with each other over land and resources. Tsarist and Soviet
rulers also colonized these republics with Slavic settlers, particularly
Cossacks.54 As the Circassians predominated in the north of both
Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, while the Turkic
Karachays and Balkars formed majorities in the mountainous south,
it would have been practical to create two ethnically homogeneous
entities: Karachay-Balkaria and Kabardino-Cherkessia. However,
both republics became even more mixed following the return of
Balkars and Karachays from forcible deportation after World War
Two. As a result, some territories remain disputed, mainly areas
formerly inhabited exclusively by Balkars. In attempts to divide the
republics, territorial competition could kindle open conflicts.
With the collapse of the USSR, ethno-centric movements
mushroomed. Several inter-ethnic disputes escalated as economic
conditions stagnated, law enforcement broke down, and new elites
emerged to challenge for political office.55 The notion of ethnic selfdetermination became dominant during the early 1990s. It was
based on the premise that certain ethnic groups, whether because
they were indigenous, had been repressed, or suffered deportations,
possessed priority in the ownership of land and assets. Such
assertions spilled over into territorial claims or demands for
financial compensation. In addition, because administrative borders
did not coincide with ethnic boundaries, portions of some ethnic
groups were non-titular minorities in republics where they had no

national rights. The smaller ethnicities complained about
discrimination and persecution, the larger ones monopolized power
and resources, while others were excluded altogether from the
political and economic spoils.56 A plethora of territorial, ethnonational, and political disputes pepper the North Caucasus. It is
valuable to consider the most significant cases, as they could spark
The Circassians are divided between three republics (Adygea,
Karachay-Cherkessia and Kabardino-Balkaria) and two districts (the
Mozdok district in North OssetiaAlania and the Shapsug district in
Krasnodar krai). The revived Circassian national movement
includes Adygean, Kabardin, Abaza and Cherkess populations
demanding greater self-determination. Activists in Russia and
abroad are seeking to reinstate Circassia on the map of the
Caucasus, and have called on all Circassians to declare a single
identity and press for the reunification of three Circassianpopulated republics: Adygea, Kabardino-Balkaria, and KarachayCherkessia. This would entail the breakup of the latter two republics
and the formation of a new autonomous unit as the first step toward
Circassian independence.
The International Circassian Association (ICA) was established in
the early 1990s, to unite Circassians from Kabardino-Balkaria,
Karachay-Cherkessia, Adygea and the diaspora. It sought to more
clearly define Circassian identity for purposes of national
unification, and tried to achieve its goals through negotiations with
Moscow. Circassian nationalism was almost totally detached from
Islamic influence, and during the 1990s Chechen attempts failed to
enlist activists in the war against Russia. However, as Moscow
rejected Circassian proposals for the repatriation of the diaspora and
the creation of a single Circassian republic, young activists became
more militant. In particular, the obstruction of Circassian
immigrants seeking to flee the civil war in Syria has contributed to

radicalizing Circassian groups in the North Caucasus.
On May 21, 2013, Circassians worldwide marked the 149th
anniversary of the end of the Russo-Caucasus War, which involved
the genocide and mass expulsions of the indigenous populations.
Kabardino-Balkaria held several events on the anniversary,
including a rally in the capital Nalchik.57 The leadership of the
republic was also present, underscoring the political importance of
the event. On October 31, 2013, the Kabardino-Balkarian
parliament approved an appeal to the federal government to assist in
repatriating over 150,000 Syrian Circassians to the North
Caucasus.58 Republican governments are seeking ways to support
their ethnic kindred and inadvertently laying the conditions for
future conflicts with Moscow. Circassians throughout the northwest
Caucasus are outraged over the holding of the February 2014 Winter
Olympic Games in Sochi, the center of the region where genocide
was committed by the Russian government. 59 They seek an
acknowledgement of the 1860s genocide and claim that Olympic
construction has led to the destruction of numerous historical
landmarks, including the mass graves of Circassians slaughtered by
Tsarist troops. Kremlin refusal to recognize the genocide and its
exploitation of the Olympics to obliterate the memory of the
indigenous inhabitants will further alienate Circassians from
Karachay-Cherkessia has a population of 477,859, with four
indigenous groups and a large Russian minority.60 The Karachay, a
Turkic-speaking people closely related to the Balkars in neighboring
Kabardino-Balkaria, comprise a plurality of 194,324 people, or 41%
of the total population. Ethnic Russians come second, numbering
150,025 people, comprising 31.6%. The Cherkess (Circassian)
population is 56,466, or almost 12% of the population. The Abaza,
who are closely related to Circassians and the Abkhaz, make up
7.8%, or 36,919 people, and the Nogays, another Turkic-speaking

group, number 3.3% or 15,654 inhabitants.
Circassians in Karachay-Cherkessia complain that since the
majority population is Karachay and Russian, they are deprived of
fair representation and equal access to resources. 61 They also
demand state support for their culture and language. Karachays and
Circassians are in conflict over representation in the republican
government. Clashes took place during the first presidential
elections in May 1999. Karachays oppose any increase in the
number of Circassians settling in the republic and challenging their
political and economic positions. The Karachay national movement,
Jamagat, was one of the first to organize and lobby for the division
of Karachay-Cherkessia. Its claims were based on the status of the
Karachay as the larger titular group and the restoration of preWorld War Two autonomy.
Circassian organizations warn that discriminatory policies by
Karachay elites may lead to destabilization. In November 2004,
protesters stormed a government building in Karachay-Cherkessias
capital Cherkessk and occupied the office of President Mustafa
Batdyev demanding his resignation. In August 2012, Karachay
police officials clashed with a group of Circassian youths marching
through the capital.62 Conflicts over ethnic self-determination focus
on demands that the five major ethnic groups be recognized as
having the status of constituent peoples of the republic. While the
Karachay, Cherkess, and Cossack movements assert that they once
possessed their own territorial autonomy and were simply restoring
it, the Abaza and Nogay movements seek the formation of national
districts. The struggle between the republics main political forces
center on the administrative structure and whether to pursue
federalization or division along ethnic principles.
To counter Circassian demands, Karachay officials have employed
divide and rule tactics by supporting other minority claims for

distinct ethnic districts. In 2006, an Abaza district was established
near Cherkessk, although it contains only five villages with a
population of 17,000 people, less than half of the entire Abaza
population residing in the republic. In 2007 A Nogay district was
also formed in the northern part of Karachay-Cherkessia, made up
of about 16,000 people and five rural settlements. These enclaves are
perceived as ethnic fortresses. The Nogay also have disputes with
neighboring groups and some activists seek their own autonomous
region across several republican borders. Rivalries persist over
Dagestani territories in the Nogay steppe, with Chechens over the
Shchelkov district, and with Cossacks in Stavropol krai.
The main Terek Cossack demand is recognition as an indigenous
ethnic group, which would entail enhanced access to government
jobs and resolution of their land disputes. Cossack leaders believe
they have a special historical role safeguarding Russian national
interests in the Caucasus by preventing separatism. 63 However,
Cossack spokesmen complain that many young people are leaving
the region due to a lack of economic opportunities and inadequate
state support.
Kabardino-Balkaria has a population of 859,939, with three
ethnicities predominating. Kabardins make up 57.2% of the total,
with 490,453 people. Russians form 22.5%, with 193,155 inhabitants.
Balkars constitute 12.7% of the population, with 108,577 people.
The rest of the population includes Ossetians, Turks, Armenians
and Chechens. The structure of Kabardino-Balkaria has passed
through various permutations. As a result, similarly to other North
Caucasus republics, it is widely regarded as an artificial territorial
construct.64 After 1957, when Balkars were allowed to return from
forced exile, it was territorially reconfigured with the separation of
the Nogay steppe and its distribution among Dagestan, ChechnyaIngushetia and Stavropol krai. The loss of this important economic

region sparked dissatisfaction among Kabardins and Balkars and
laid the foundations for territorial disputes with neighbors.
In 1943, Balkars and Karachays were exiled en masse to Central Asia
by the Soviet regime. They were officially rehabilitated after 1957
and allowed to return to their homeland. Because of these dramatic
population movements, the boundaries between ethnic groups
remained in flux and there is little consensus on their permanence.65
Ethnic disputes are again surfacing in Kabardino-Balkaria, once
considered the most stable republic in the region. Balkar resentment
is visible over the predominant role of the Kabardins in political,
economic, and social institutions. This compounds their grievances
over insufficient compensation for prior deportations, when much
of their traditional land was awarded to Kabardins and other
groups. 66 Kabardins argue that Balkars seek to gain as much
mountain property as possible in order to create their own ethnic
territory and secede from Kabardino-Balkaria. During the 1990s, as
Russian out-migration increased the Kabardin majority, Kabardin
activists sought greater autonomy from Russia, while Balkars feared
the changing demographics.
Some nationalists have called for the unification of Balkar and
Karachay territories in Kabardino-Balkaria and KarachayCherkessia to form a single republic within the Russian Federation.
Others have called for the full independence of these merged
territories and separation from Russia. Balkar nationalists express
fears about the rise of Circassian nationalism and demands for an
independent Circassia. Redrawing borders between republics
continues to be debated in the region. A united Circassia and a
united Karachay-Balkaria could be created in place of the patchwork
of republics with mixed ethnicities. However, because of numerous
ethnically diverse areas, voluntary separation would be a difficult
demographic challenge and necessitate extensive population


In Kabardino-Balkaria, two other issues can provoke conflict: the

question of land ownership and the transfer of rural areas to urban

control, which would attract a higher level of rent and taxation.67
Balkars resent the unwillingness of the government to review land
ownership, and fear that rural communities and traditional village
councils could be destroyed and placed under urban control. A
major Balkar grievance concerns the redrawing of the
administrative map, in which several predominantly Balkar villages
were joined to the capital Nalchik, which has a Russian and
Kabardin majority. Merging these territories with a city greatly
increased property taxes.
Adygea has a population of 439,996. Russians predominate with a
63.6% majority of 270,714 inhabitants. Adygean Circassians
(separated as two nationalities in the official census) form the
second largest ethnicity, numbering 109,699 people, or 25.8% of the
population. The republic is structured as an enclave within
Krasnodar krai and is separated from Karachay-Cherkessia and
Kabardino-Balkaria by virtue of being incorporated into the
Southern Federal District instead of the North Caucasus Federal
District. The key ethno-political confrontation is the opposition of
Adygeans to the planned incorporation of Adygea within Krasnodar
krai and the transfer of various powers to the Krasnodar
government. The Kremlin is seeking to reduce the authority of the
Adygean administration and neutralize one Circassian pressure
point in the region.68 As an alternative to incorporation, some
Adygean activists have proposed territorial exchanges with
Krasnodar krai that could create a corridor linking the republic to
other Circassian lands.

Northeast Caucasus Ethnic Rivalries

One of the most persistent disputes in the northeast Caucasus is the

Ossetian-Ingush conflict over Prigorodny district in North Ossetia
Alania. The area was annexed by North Ossetia after the Soviet
deportation of the Ingush in February 1944, and the dispute was
reignited after their return in the late 1950s. The Ingush were the
third largest ethnic group in North Ossetia, numbering 35,300 (5.2%
of the population), when violence erupted in October 1992. About
30,000 people, practically the whole Ingush population of
Prigorodny district and the capital Vladikavkaz, fled North Ossetia
during the conflict. Ossetian units expelled Ingush residents,
assisted by the Russian military. Over 300 people from both sides
were killed or remain unaccounted for.
North OssetiaAlania has a population of 712,980, in which
Ossetians form a 65.1% majority (459,688 people); Russians come
second with 20.8% (147,090), while the Ingush number only 4%
(28,336 people). The Prigorodny conflict has not been resolved,
since most Ingush refugees cannot return home. Although the
district is part of North Ossetia, the April 1991 Federal Law on the
Rehabilitation of the Repressed Peoples remains in force and the
Ingush retain hopes for a change of status for the district.
As Moscow strengthened Ossetian influence by recognizing the
independence of South Ossetia, a territory in Georgia captured by
Russian forces in August 2008, Ossetian leaders may become even
less amenable to reconciliation with the Ingush over Prigorodny
district. 69 North Ossetian nationalists have campaigned for
unification with South Ossetia within the Russian Federation. In
July 2013, the President of South Ossetia, Leonid Tibilov, expressed
his support for unification.70 For the time being, Moscow is unlikely
to agree because this could spark new territorial disputes, as
Ossetians are not the only nation divided by a border.
Ingushetia has a population of 412,529, in which the Ingush form a
94.1% majority, with 385,537 inhabitants, and the Chechens a

minority of 4.6%, with 18,765 people. Chechnyas population of
1,268,989 has a Chechen majority of 95.3%, or 1,206,551 people,
with small minorities of Russians, Kumyks, and others. Since the
division of Chechnya-Ingushetia in 1991, a dispute has simmered
over villages in the Sunzha district of Ingushetia, which is claimed
by both capitals. The border between the two republics was never
formally established after Moscow transferred the demarcation
process to the republican governments.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has unsettled the region by
vowing to reintegrate Chechnya and Ingushetia. On April 18, 2013,
Chechen and Ingush police clashed following an incursion by 300
Chechen law enforcement agents into Sunzha.71 The Chechen side
claimed that the police were simply chasing militants. In February
2013, Grozny began to implement legislation claiming de jure
control over disputed villages. The armed incursion indicated that
Kadyrov was prepared to act on long-standing land claims. The
territorial dispute is producing a nationalist backlash among the
Ingush and enabling governor Yunus Yevkurov to claim he is
defending the nations interests.
Some Russian experts believe Moscow is pushing Chechnya and
Ingushetia toward amalgamation, a move that is highly unpopular
in Ingushetia. Ingush leaders warn that if Grozny starts redrawing
its border with Ingushetia, the latter will demand the return of
Prigorodny district and the right riverbank of Vladikavkaz in North
OssetiaAlania. Equally worrisome, republican leaders have formed
police units consisting of recruits from the titular nationalities.
Hence, the campaign against militants may escalate into an interethnic struggle between republic-level forces. This policy of
ethnification, designed to help republics integrate young people
and combat terrorism, has spread to other republics, with the
danger that the Chechen-Ingush standoff could be a harbinger of
another destabilizing trend across the region.


Dagestan contains the most complex patchwork of ethnic groups in

the North Caucasus. With a population of 2,910,249, no ethnicity
has a majority. Among the largest are Avars with 29.4% (850,011),
Dargins with 17% (490,384), Kumyks with 14.9% (431,736), Lezgins
with 13.3% (385,240), Laks with 5.6% (161,276), Tabasarans with
4.1% (118,848), Russians with 3.6% (104,020), Chechens with 3.2%
(93,658), and Nogays with 1.4% (14,407). Other indigenous peoples
include Rutuls, Aguls, Tsakhurs and Azerbaijanis.
Dagestan has the potential for instability due to numerous factors,
including rivalry between the two leading ethnicities, Avars and
Dargins; resentment among other nationalities against the perceived
dominance of Avars and Dargins; rifts between mountain peoples
and lowland nationalities, particularly between Avars and Kumyks;
and the grievances of nations divided by state borders.72 Under the
Soviet and post-Soviet systems, Dagestan was officially jointly
owned by 14 ethnicities. The destabilization of Dagestan could
lead to campaigns for national autonomy among several ethnic
groups. Renewed fears of fragmentation along ethnic lines arose in
response to the transition to a presidential system in early 2006, and
the disbanding of the fourteen-member State Council, in which each
of the eleven titular ethnic groups, together with Russians, Azeris
and Chechens, were represented. The new federal law, enabling
Putin to nominate all regional governors, raised the prospect of
ethnic favoritism by the Kremlin.73
Given the number of nationalities and overlapping settlement
patterns, an orderly territorial division of Dagestan is improbable,
but an attempt by any one group could provoke a chain reaction of
conflictive claims.74 Among the aggrieved parties is the Kumyk
organization Tenglik, which seeks local autonomy; more radical
members want a separate Kumyk republic within the Russian
Federation. Tenglik has campaigned to turn Dagestan into a

federation with full territorial autonomy for each nationality in its
historical homeland. Avars and other groups oppose this initiative,
as they believe demographic size is more relevant than historical
Dargin militants have demanded a separate homeland inside
Dagestan. In response, the Dagestani government has affirmed that
internal borders are permanent. 75 Rivalries between Avars and
Dargins over leadership positions have also led to growing political
marginalization among other ethnic groups. The Nogay remain
opposed to any encroachment on their land by people from the
mountain regions. Their grievances have revived calls for autonomy.
Birlik, the Nogay national movement, supports the creation of a
Nogay autonomous region combining northern Dagestan with coethnics in Chechnya and Stavropol krai.
Dagestans Chechens are demanding that the Dagestani authorities
resettle them in the towns where they lived before their deportation
to Central Asia in February 1944, after which Laks and Avars were
resettled in their homes. 76 Conflicts are possible during the
restoration of the Chechen Aukhovsky district, planned after Lak
resettlement is complete.77 Chechens and Avars live parallel lives:
believers visit separate mosques and youths are ethnically polarized.
Chechens feel discriminated against and unprotected by the police.
Avars dominate local security services and state institutions and
want to preserve the status quo. They fear that if the district
becomes Chechen, it will be their turn to suffer discrimination.
Several conflicts are brewing in an area where Chechens have
territorial claims, especially with Kumyks, Laks, Avars and Cossacks.
Avars suspect Chechens of irredentism and interpret calls by some
activists for a united Chechen-Dagestani state as disguised attempts
to annex the Aukhovsky district. Meanwhile, Kumyk villages have
protested against Lak resettlement and creation of the Novolaksky

district on what they consider their ancestral lands. 78 Kumyks
historically inhabited most of Dagestans lowlands. After the mass
migration of other groups from the mountains to the plains and
their own forcible relocation to the lands of deported Chechens,
Kumyks became dispersed minorities on territories they viewed as
their homeland.
Dagestans Khasavyurt district bordering Chechnya is rife with
territorial disputes between Chechens, Kumyks, Laks, Avars and
Andys.79 Land disputes are a major problem, including Kumyk
resentment over land encroachments by Avars, Dargins and Laks.
Kumyk leaders are also dissatisfied with the distribution of top
government positions among other ethnic groups. Kumyk
complaints to officials in Moscow have been ignored and their anger
was compounded by the murder of a Kumyk leader, Yusup Ajiev, on
April 19, 2013. There is a danger that young people will turn to
militancy if Kumyk grievances are not officially addressed
The problems of divided cross-border peoples also remain
unresolved in Dagestan. Some ethnicities, including Lezgins, Tats,
and Tsakhurs, straddle the border region with Azerbaijan. More
than a third of the regions Lezgin population lives in Azerbaijan as
well as the majority of Tsakhurs and Tats. Lezgins view themselves
as politically marginalized and separated from ethnically kindred
groups such as Aguls, Rutuls and Tabasarans, which reduces their
political influence. Lezgins have developed a separatist movement in
Dagestan and some activists have advocated the political unification
of Lezgins in Dagestan and Azerbaijan. One wing of Sadwal, the
Lezgin national movement, seeks to establish a united Lezginistan as
an autonomous republic within the Russian Federation separate
from Dagestan.80
Official proposals to divide Dagestan into four distinct
administrative districts may be designed to facilitate closer central

control. Instead, it could inflame inter-ethnic tensions and separatist
trends. The ethnic composition of each district will differ from the
republic as a whole and increase the influence of some ethnicities
while weakening others.81 The dominance of specific groups could
bolster autonomist sentiments. Persistent ethnic rivalries in
Dagestan are compounded by the emergence of armed rebellion and
escalating confrontations between powerful interest groups.82 Such
conflicts place Moscow in an unenviable position of favoring one
side in a dispute and alienating rivals, attempting mediation, or
avoiding involvement and thus undercutting its influence. The
outbreak and escalation of inter-communal clashes in Dagestan will
not benefit Moscow, as this will make the region increasingly
ungovernable and could lead to the republics disintegration.

Western Balkan Ethnic Contests

During the 1990s, ethnic nationalism was the key device used by
republican leaders to mobilize the population for separate statehood
and in some cases the partition of neighboring republics. Milosevics
Greater Serbia ambitions were intended to incorporate sectors of
Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina with sizeable Serbian populations.
Croatian President Franjo Tudjman applied a similar Greater
Croatia program in areas of Bosnia-Herzegovina containing Croat
majorities. Under the cover of war, operations were conducted to
clear the contested regions of other ethnic groups, whether through
expulsion or mass murder, and to create ethnically homogenous
states. Although ethno-nationalism no longer confronts a fraying
federal structure in the Western Balkans, it continues to pose
challenges to regional cooperation and democratic consolidation in
contested states such as Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosova and


Nationalists thrive where government institutions are not viewed as
fully legitimate, especially where state building is incomplete.84 In
addition, it cannot be assumed that younger generations with no
experience of war will avoid xenophobia and conflict. Ethnic
separation in education, employment, residence and marriage in
Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosova and Macedonia can foster animosity.
In the midst of economic stagnation this can generate feelings of
injustice and leave people susceptible to nationalist appeals.85
Bosnia-Herzegovina remains divided along ethno-national lines,
with citizens polarized around their respective identities. 86 The
dysfunctionality of the Bosnian state, coupled with Serbian support
for autonomy or even secession and Croatian dissatisfaction with
minority status, are spurring Bosniak nationalism as a defense
against rival political and territorial claims. Bosnias institutional
gridlock and economic stagnation have resulted in disillusionment
with multi-ethnicity or tri-ethnicity, which blocks decision-making
at various administrative levels. Meanwhile, nationalist leaders
perceive the civic option, or the principle of citizenship not based on
ethnic identity, as harmful to the group interests of all three major
collectivities that they claim to represent.
One of the primary goals of the November 1995 Dayton accords was
to give the three nations a stake in a single country through a
protective veto over decision-making. However, the agreement was
not designed to build an integrated state in which the central
government in Sarajevo possessed decisive authority. Instead, it
created a complex administrative structure, in which ethnic
balancing predominated and layers of governmental bureaucracy
contributed to gross inefficiency. This system has obstructed
decision-making, especially as ethno-national demands prevail over
civic-state interests.


The assumption among EU leaders that the scaling down of
international supervision and the magnetic attraction of EU
integration would convince Bosnias political leaders to pursue the
rigorous reforms necessary for accession is proving illusory.
Nationalist parties are more focused on preserving their
particularistic interests than in constructing an integral state that
would qualify for EU entry. This was evident after the October 3,
2010 general elections when Serbian and Croatian national parties
impeded the formation of a new state-level government until
December 2011. Attempts at constitutional reform to prevent entity
and ethnic blocking of state legislation and ensure smoother
government operations have been consistently obstructed through
entity voting.
Ethno-politics has stymied the development of state citizenship,
programmatic pluralism, individual rights, and a competitive
democracy. Ethno-nationalist parties, treated by international actors
as the sole representatives of ethnic collectivities, are primarily based
on patronage and clientelist networks. Their leaders are adamant
that the civic principle cannot be applied in Bosnia, but only a
system of inter-group balancing. There is no single Bosnian political
elite that transcends national divisions and no common panBosnian identity has developed since the war. 87 The younger
generation has no tradition of multi-ethnic Yugoslavism and there is
minimal interaction between ethno-national groups. The
educational systems are separated and there is no daily interaction
between citizens in the two entities. This leaves young people
susceptible to indoctrination and political manipulation.
President Milorad Dodik of the Serb Republic (SR) asserts that the
Bosnian state is not functioning and the SR must develop its
sovereignty. He opposes the state government on the grounds that it
is abrogating powers that belong to the two Bosnian entities and is
engaged in a policy of centralization and Bosniak Muslim

domination. Dodik claims to be reclaiming the autonomy of the
Serb entity, but could push for full-scale separation if internal
conditions deteriorate. Bosnia-Herzegovina remains vulnerable to
further political disturbances, with a potential for renewed interethnic violence.88
The prospective secession of the SR could also ignite demands for
the separation of the Sandzak from Serbia, as Muslims in this region
identify with Bosniaks. SR secession will also stimulate demands for
the partition of northern Kosova containing a Serb majority and the
separation of the Presevo valley from Serbia where Albanians form a
majority. Such scenarios may also encourage governments to stage
crackdowns to prevent separatism, while nationalist militants may
arm themselves on the pretext of defending national integrity and
ensuring state survival.
The Albanian question remains one of the unresolved state-building
puzzles in the Western Balkans and continues to preoccupy
international agencies. Similarly to the Circassians in the North
Caucasus, sizeable Albanian and Serb populations are dispersed
between several states. Pan-Albanian movements have benefited
from little public support and Albanian leaders have steered clear of
irredentism.89 Nonetheless, nationalist sentiments could capture the
public imagination if a confluence of factors crystalizes, including
prolonged economic distress, frustration with mainstream political
parties, Albanias indefinite exclusion from the EU, Kosovas
stagnation, clashes between Albanians and Slavs in Macedonia, and
U.S. regional disengagement.
The idea of a Greater Albania, or an Ethnic Albania, has been
promulgated by some intellectuals but with little political traction.
No Albanian leader in Kosova or Macedonia has been willing to
surrender his authority to a center in Tirana and become a regional
administrator. Albania itself has not been a magnet of attraction,

either economically or politically, for those Albanians who emerged
from a wealthier Yugoslavia. Additionally, the international
environment was not conducive to Albanian expansionism,
especially as American and European restraints on Tirana
guaranteed that Albanias leaders did not play the irredentist card
even at the height of the war over Kosova in 1999.
Nonetheless, pan-Albanianism can become more appealing in both
Albania and Kosova. Kosova has witnessed the electoral emergence
of the Movement for Self-Determination (MSD), with a program
that combines anti-corruption, national sovereignty and panAlbanianism. Persistent public dissatisfaction may steer toward
ethno-nationalism if Kosova is blocked from entering the major
international institutions. MSD has proposed a referendum on
Kosovas unification with Albania and views such a merger as
creating a stronger state.90
An additional problem is the division of Kosova, in which four
northern municipalities with Serbian majorities do not recognize
the countrys independence. An EU-brokered agreement between
Belgrade and Prishtina in April 2013 was declared a breakthrough in
normalizing relations, whereby an Association of Serbian
Municipalities was established which supposedly recognized the
legitimacy of the Kosova state. The government in Prishtina claimed
that the plan would bring the northern municipalities under the
control of central institutions. However, political opponents view
the arrangement as the thin end of a wedge toward Serbian
autonomy similar to the Bosnian model. Meanwhile, Serb minority
leaders assert that the denial of genuine self-determination will
either lead to local unrest or a Serbian exodus.
Following the Albanian insurgency in northwestern Macedonia
during the summer of 2001, the Ohrid Framework Agreement was
brokered between Albanian guerrillas and the Macedonia

government under U.S. and EU supervision. Much of the agreement
has been implemented, including cultural autonomy, proportional
Albanian representation in state institutions, and use of the
Albanian language in municipalities where Albanians form 20% or
more of the population. Nonetheless, several factors have
undermined Albanian commitments to the Macedonian state. These
include the rise of Slavic Macedonian nationalism inflamed by the
name dispute with Greece, state capture by the ruling VMRO
(Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization) party since
August 2006, the growing prominence of the Macedonian Orthodox
Church, a decline in the independence of the media and the
judiciary, the limited number of Albanians in senior government
positions and public enterprises, and setbacks in administrative
decentralization and Albanian language use.
The rights given to Albanians under the Ohrid accords have also led
to discontent among the Slavic Macedonian majority, who feel a loss
of privileged status in the state sector amidst charges that merit has
been sacrificed for ethnic quotas. This has heightened resentment
against Albanians and opposition to power sharing. Such frictions
can be politically manipulated to fuel inter-ethnic disputes. Violent
clashes between Macedonians and Albanians have erupted on
occasion and contribute to dividing the two communities. Opinion
polls indicate that two thirds of residents in Albanian-majority
districts in western Macedonia support the creation of a common
Albanian state with Albania and Kosova, and more than half think it
will soon materialize. 91 Although no active mobilization for
separatism is underway, this could change if Macedonias coalition
government with Albanian representatives collapses.92
The national renaissance campaign and costly urban renewal
program (Skopje 2014) pursued by the administration are focused
on asserting Macedonian identity and developing an ancient
heritage that largely neglects Albanians and other minorities. The

attempt to depict the current Slavic-speaking Macedonians as direct
descendants of ancient Macedonians has magnified conflicts with
Greece and alienated the Albanian population. If state-sponsored
nation-building is pursued at the cost of Macedonias international
integration, it will delegitimize the state among Albanians and
increase demands for federalization.
The prospect for inter-state wars in the Western Balkans or
insurgencies sponsored by rival governments appears remote.
Nonetheless, armed conflicts generated by vigilante militias or
armed civilians are possible in parts of the region. BosniaHerzegovina, Kosova and Macedonia remain as candidates for
instability if inter-ethnic discords escalate in a deteriorating
economic climate. This partially mirrors conditions in the North
Caucasus, where a combination of economic pressure, government
illegitimacy and social anger is even more likely to find outlets in
inter-ethnic confrontations.

Rising Russian Nationalism

One of the gravest threats to the survival of the Russian Federation
is the growth of Russian ethno-nationalism and the ethnic
polarization that this engenders. The manipulation of Serbian
nationalism in the former Yugoslavia demonstrated how political
mobilization for the allegedly violated rights of one ethnic group
alienates other nationalities and provokes competing nationalisms.
The slogan Russia for the Russians has become more
commonplace in recent years. If taken to its logical conclusion it will
fracture the country, as Russias attempt to become a nation-state
will set the stage for ethnic divisions and territorial partition.
In an effort to increase its public support, the Kremlin has pandered
to ethno-nationalist sentiments as a solution to the countrys

mounting problems. The more prominent political role of the
Russian Orthodox Church also contributes to nationalist and
religious polarization. Frequent attacks by Russian mobs on
Caucasian and Central Asian residents in Moscow and other large
cities are alienating these populations from Slavic inhabitants and
stoking radicalization in the North Caucasus. This could also further
impoverish the region, as workers may no longer feel safe in seeking
employment in Russias major cities.
According to analysts in Moscow, Russian public opinion is rapidly
shifting toward aggressive intolerance. 93 The Levada Center
estimates that the number of people who favor a mono-ethnic state
has doubled in recent years. An increasing number of Russians favor
a mono-ethnic state, including 43.4% of Muscovites. Thirty percent
of all Russians and 48.9% of Muscovites feel antipathy toward
people from the Caucasus, while 80.6% of Muscovites want migrants
deported. Despite being Russian citizens, natives of the North
Caucasus are the most despised ethnic group. Russias acquisition of
Abkhazia and South Ossetia will intensify Russian dissatisfaction
that two more problem areas have been added to the North
Caucasus, which already absorbs a disproportionate share of the
federal budget.
Russian nationalists have posited plans to transform the federation
into a national state through the creation of an ethnic Russian
Republic and the dissolution of non-Russian republics.94 However,
nationalists face a contradictory predicament. Although they do not
want Moscow to financially support the North Caucasus, their
imperialist sentiments prevent them from backing outright
secession.95 The most specific programs for federal restructuring
have come from Russian National Unity (RNU) and Pamyat
(Memory), calling for the formation of a purely Russian republic
and unification with ethnic Russian regions in neighboring
countries. Pro-Kremlin nationalist groups, such as Velikaya Rossiya

(Great Russia), also seek the creation of a unitary Russian state
and the reunification of ethnic Russian lands in nearby states. The
National Democratic Party (NDP) demands equal rights between
predominantly ethnic Russian regions and non-Russian republics,
although some members prefer to split the Federation into
independent states.
The starkest example of Slavic separatism concerns the Cossack
population, which has rediscovered its identity since the demise of
the Soviet Union. An increasing number of Cossacks believe they
form a nation oppressed by Moscow that deserves territorial selfdetermination. 96 Three of the most important of the thirteen
Cossack voiskas or hosts, the Don, Kuban, and Terek, have their
roots in the North Caucasus. During 19921996, Cossack
organizations proclaimed several Cossack republics, including
Batalpasha, Zelenchuk-Urup, and a Don Republic in the territory of
Rostov oblast. Some Terek Cossacks also declared secession from
Dagestan and claimed territories in Chechnya. Paradoxically, the
Kremlin has assisted the upsurge in Cossack separatism through its
use of Cossack units to help control the North Caucasus, but it
opposes their territorial autonomy. Any viable Cossack republic
would have to be hacked out of several non-Russian regions and
would provoke intense local resistance.
Russian nationalists target natives of the North Caucasus and the
stereotype of the Islamic radical and terrorist is commonplace
throughout Russia. This is reminiscent of the Albanian and Bosniak
Muslim stereotypes propagated by the Milosevic regime, which
provided justifications for the mass murders and expulsions
perpetrated during the 19911999 wars. However, Moscow cannot
employ similar policies in the North Caucasus on the pretext of
defending ethnic Russian and Christian interests from an alleged
mortal danger. The ethnic Russian component in the North
Caucasus has been steadily declining since the collapse of the Soviet

Union and Russians form shrinking minorities in all seven
republics. Between 1989 and 2002, the percentage of ethnic Russians
in the overall population decreased from 26% to under 15%, or from
1.36 million in 1989 to about 940,000 in 2002. The indigenous
populations grew from 66% to 80%, or from 3.5 to 5.3 million. The
exodus of Russians is accelerating and some estimate that the
Russian component will fall to under 2% during the next decade.
Ethnic Russians constitute under a third of the population of the
entire North Caucasus Federal District (NCFD), although this also
includes Stavropol krai where Russians form a substantial
majority.97 The 2010 census showed that Russians formed only 3.6%
of Dagestans population, down from 9.2% in the 1989 census. In
Chechnya, Russians comprised nearly 25% of the population in
1989, but their share fell to less than 2% by 2010. In Ingushetia,
Russians decreased from 13.2% to under 1% in 2010. In North
OssetiaAlania, the decline was from 30% to 20.6%. In KabardinoBalkaria, Russians decreased from 32% to 21.5%. In KarachayCherkessia, the fall was from 42.4%, when Russians were the largest
ethnic group, to 31.4%. Even in Adygea, which has traditionally had
a Russian majority, the share of Russians diminished from 68% in
1989 to 63.6% in 2010.
Stavropol krai is the largest territory in the NCFD, with a
population of 2.8 million. Nearly two-thirds of the ethnic Russians
who live in the NCFD, about 2.3 million people, reside in Stavropol
krai and comprise almost 81% of the population.98 Around 150,000
North Caucasians also live in the territory. The Russian population
has been stagnant over the past decade and its share of the total has
dropped by 2%.
The growth of the Muslim population in Stavropol krai has spurred
Islamophobia and Caucasiaphobia among ethnic Russians and
reinforced hostility between the two communities.99 Violent clashes

have occurred between Russian ultra-nationalist skinheads and
Chechen residents, while Russian nationalists have staged rallies
against the presence of indigenous North Caucasians. According to
local analysts, Stavropol krai is rapidly becoming Russias Kosova
as a result of massive in-migration of North Caucasians and outmigration and low birth rates among Russians.100 In the southern
and eastern regions of the krai adjacent to the North Caucasus
republics, non-Russians exceed 50% of the population. This is
especially evident in areas near Dagestan, inhabited by Dargins and
Avars. Neftekumsky district has a long border with Dagestan, while
Kurskoy district borders Dagestan, Chechnya, North OssetiaAlania
and Kabardino-Balkaria. Chechens tend to reside in Kurskoy
district, while Avars live in Levokumsky district. The ratio of nonRussians to ethnic Russians in Kurskoy district is already 50/50.
Local Russians oppose Moscows policy of incorporating Stavropol
krai in the NCFD and a growing number doubt whether
maintaining control over the North Caucasus is worth the price. For
the Kremlin, the inclusion of Stavropol in the NCFD fosters the
impression that it fully governs the region. However, there is a
public campaign in Stavropol for secession from the NCFD. 101
Observers predict that soon after the Sochi Olympics, the district
will be reorganized, whether by incorporating Krasnodar, Rostov,
and other nearby ethnic Russian regions, or by separating the
eastern part of the North Caucasus, including Chechnya, Dagestan
and Ingushetia, from the rest of the North Caucasus.
Russian protesters in Stavropol have demanded the introduction of
a special migration regime with stringent controls along the krais
administrative border to insulate the region from the North
Caucasus. In a provocative initiative announced in August 2013, the
nationalist Russian Peoples Assembly prepared to declare Stavropol
krai an ethnic Russian republic.102 Its leaders contend that Russians
must follow the example of the North Caucasians by organizing on

an ethnic basis. It would be difficult for Moscow to simultaneously
resist Russian separatism and contain secessionist insurgencies
throughout the North Caucasus. Attempts to create an ethnic
Russian republic would have immense implications for the entire
federation by provoking resistance among numerous subject
nations, enfeebling the centralized political structure, and hastening
Russias disintegration.


4 . R E L I G I O U S D I M E N SI O N S
In appraising the role of Islam in regional insurgencies, it is valuable
to compare the drivers of religious radicalism and the position of
traditional religious leaders. The Western Balkans has three major
religious affiliations closely tied to national identity: Sunni Muslim,
Catholic Christian and Orthodox Christian. However, ethnonationalism and independent statehood rather than religious
doctrine were the two key mobilizing devices during the Yugoslav
wars. In the case of Albanian national movements, multiconfessionalism has prevailed and religion played a marginal role in
any conflicts. Cross-ethnic religious affiliation among Muslims was
not a factor in the wars of national liberation from Yugoslavia.
Radical Islamists failed to gain a foothold in the region either
through significant public support or involvement in national
The population of the North Caucasus has a predominantly Islamic
affiliation. However, Islam in the region is not homogenous and
only transcends ethnic distinctiveness during popular struggles with
outside powers. Nonetheless, radical Islamism has increasingly filled
the political vacuum created by an authoritarian Russia, in which
government, law enforcement and the judiciary are not accountable
to the citizenry. The repressive policies of the Russian state and the
republican governments fuel the growth of religious militancy.
Additionally, the struggle for authority within the Islamic
Community has raised the stature of Islamists, who do not recognize
ethnic divisions but seek to create a pan-Caucasus Islamic state by
conducting revolutionary and revivalist transformations of local


Religious Radicalism in North Caucasus

Religious radicalism has developed into a more potent force in the
North Caucasus than in the Western Balkans. Salafist proselytizing
has had an impact, although its precise causes and consequences
have been disputed and its adherents remain in a small minority.103
Salafist movements first penetrated the region in the late 1980s, with
Dagestan as their base. They spread to Chechnya following the
defeat of Russian troops by Chechen independence forces in 1996,
and to other parts of the North Caucasus in the wake of the Second
Russo-Chechen War in 19992000. Islamism proved a more
effective method for mobilizing support for the Chechens than any
secular ideology. Chechen leaders became convinced that in order to
secure independence, the struggle with Russia needed to spread to
other republics.
Since the early 1990s, a growing number of young Muslims in the
North Caucasus created alternative faith-based and close-knit local
jamaats (communities).104 They rejected the traditional syncretic
Islam that had fused with ethnic and kinship-based rituals and
beliefs. They were radical in propagating political, religious, and
social reform, but were generally non-violent. However, the official
branding of all New Muslims outside the purview of the official
religious authorities as dangerous subversives, with whom no
compromise was possible, contributed to the escalation of conflict
and the growing appeal of violent jihadism.
Muslim extremism has been on the rise for both practical and
ideological reasons.105 Ethno-national radicalism is a divisive factor
in the region that facilitates the Kremlins control. Religion provides
a unifying bond across ethnic boundaries, and enables insurgents to
recruit outside their communities and campaign for the creation of

a broad regional structure styled as a future Muslim Caliphate. As
pressures from the Russian government intensify, Islamist
mobilization grows in importance among diverse ethnic groups.106
Although religious separatism has largely supplanted overt national
separatism among insurgents, the longer-term ethnic factors will
become more prominent as conditions in the region deteriorate and
competition for power and resources escalates.
Islamists are often drawn from the intelligentsia and middle class.
Unemployed and socially frustrated youths are also susceptible to
religious propaganda with a concrete cause. Jihadism and Salafism
provide a mobilizing ideology and worldview, especially for young
people who have suffered at the hands of Russias security forces.
Salafist ideology has an appeal because of its egalitarianism and
disregard for social hierarchies. 107 Salafis criticize the poorly
informed Muslim leadership and have filled an ideological, social
and political vacuum. 108 They convince converts that they are
following the original tenets of Islam and the teachings of the Koran,
and do not recognize any of the Islamic schools that interpret
Prophet Mohammads words. Salafism offers a sense of solidarity
and community, a means for achieving specific goals, and a recipe
for creating a social order to replace failed state institutions. As a
result, its social and economic appeal is growing faster than its
theological precepts, although estimating the number of Salafis is
Moscow has tried to combat this phenomenon by branding all
Salafis as terrorists. It has also orchestrated periodic crackdowns and
arrests of devout Muslims who are not involved in armed militancy,
thus further alienating Islamic believers from the state.
Amendments to Russias laws On Extremism and On Combating
Terrorism give the FSB, the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MVD), the
Justice Ministry, and the General Prosecutors Office broad leeway
in arresting and torturing suspects. Indeed, Moscow contributed to

Islamic radicalization by assassinating secular Chechen resistance
leaders, including Chechnyas President Aslan Maskhadov in March
2005 and his successor Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev in June 2006.
Although ideological links exist with the international jihadist
movement, the North Caucasus insurgency is a region-wide revolt
that stems from internal grievances.110 Insurrections in isolated and
mountainous areas historically represented the core of resistance
where Islam and customary law intertwined against Russian
colonialism. Ascribing the revolt to the global jihad exaggerates
the degree of unity and coordination between differing insurgencies.
According to Sagramoso, North Caucasus jihadists have not adopted
an explicitly anti-Western platform and have conducted few
terrorist acts against civilians or Western targets. They have mostly
attacked local officials and Russian security targets.111
A complex mix of political repression, economic deprivation,
personal frustration, and family vendettas fosters Islamist
insurrection. 112 There are numerous reasons for joining the
insurgency, given the absence of a secular alternative to the existing
system, in which legitimate political opposition is outlawed. 113
Rebellion entails a degree of risk and is seen as prestigious among
young people. The decline in agriculture has increased the migration
of young people into cities, which in turn creates social pressures.
Traditional authority has broken down, with lessened respect for
elders, while militant groups provide freedom from family ties and a
chance to join a new community. Islamist movements have
developed a subculture with its own symbols and language that
connects with the global Islamic heritage, exploits modern popular
culture, and appeals to youths. As wealth is concentrated in the
hands of a few dozen powerful families, corruption and exclusion
have also fueled armed resistance. Discontent stems from injustice,
corruption, and the inability to obtain work on merit. According to

unofficial data, 70% to 80% of young people under 30 are
unemployed in the region.
Republican governments have tried to outlaw a broadly misdefined
Wahhabism, but their efforts have incited revolt. In the fall of
1999, the Kabardino-Balkarian authorities began a crackdown on
suspected Islamists, reflecting Moscows harder position on
religious militancy. Local Wahhabis were depicted as criminals and
terrorists trained by Chechen rebels and paid by Western
intelligence.114 Dagestans adoption of an anti-Wahhabism law in
2008 also criminalized many devout young Muslims who were not
jihadists. As a consequence, militants had little difficulty recruiting
youths traumatized by police abuse.115
The custom of blood feud as a form of traditional justice in kinshipbased societies has also ensured a constant inflow of new recruits to
the expanding resistance movement. 116 In traditional areas, the
blood feud requires revenge for either verbal humiliation or physical
attack. If any alleged or actual insurgent falls victim to police abuse,
members of the victims kinship network may demand vengeance.
Individuals seeking revenge join militant groups to enhance their
capabilities, and their actions are not always determined by
The traditional jamaats are territorial structures in autocephalous
Muslim societies, usually formed along ethnic lines and combining
several villages. They include collaboration in such activities as
territorial defense, agricultural work, and religious ritual in the Sufi
tradition.118 Jamaats are governed cooperatively by councils of elders
drawn from the segmented kinship networks, which are particularly
evident in Dagestan. They were revived when the Soviet Union
collapsed, as previously repressed Sufism became a mainstream
social force. However, the new official stature of Sufism created a

vacuum in organized opposition to the government that was often
filled by Salafism.119
Jamaats can be organized to achieve both peaceful and militaristic
goals, while not all militants are members of jamaats. Many of the
original Salafist jamaats were religious organizations embracing
strict Islamic principles but rejecting violence. In the early 2000s, a
ban was introduced against a loosely defined Wahhabism
throughout the North Caucasus, accompanied by a campaign of
repression against suspected insurgents. Salafis were pushed
underground and became increasingly radicalized and linked with
the Chechen rebellion while engaging in self-defense against state
Several newly formed jamaats broke with their Sufi predecessors,
championed a Salafist interpretation of Islam, opposed the
traditional Islamic religious authorities, and resisted Russian
colonialism.121 Most militant jamaats are organized as self-help
networks providing social and economic support to members. Some
groups are believed to be involved in the drug trade and other illicit
activities that help raise finances. Although the insurgents are
predominantly radical Salafis, the majority of Islamists do not
violently oppose the Russian state. However, they are highly critical
of the corrupt and ostentatious lifestyles of republican officials and
the injustices perpetrated by the government, and condemn
traditional religious leaders as collaborators. Salafis are viewed as
strict in their beliefs but living according to their principles. By
contrast, Sufi clergy are perceived as being prone to worldly
temptations. In Dagestan and Ingushetia, young people often do not
trust the official Muslim clergy because they do not live according to
the values they preach.122
At the republican level, Salafist jamaats may have several thousand
members, led by an elected emir and governing institutions

including a high council, a court, and educational networks. They
adhere to sharia, believed to be a set of divine laws, which prescribe
the content of social and political interaction. However, unlike
mainstream Sunnis, militants do not believe that either the
traditional social structures or the existing state can enforce sharia
and they seek to establish a new political order.
The more radical jaamats often form the backbone of the Salafistinspired insurgency and operate across ethnic lines. Their ultimate
goal is the creation of an Islamic state in the North Caucasus
founded on sharia law that would merge with the global umma
(Islamic community). The Salafist state-building strategy includes
establishing a judicial system based on sharia courts, enforcement of
sharia law, and tax collection to fund judicial functions and guerrilla
activities. 123 Judicial power is exercised by the Supreme Shariat
Court under the leadership of a qadi, an Islamic judge, appointed by
the emir and approved by the Majlis-ul-Shura or Supreme
Council.124 They also engage in publishing and distributing religious
literature, education, and funding young men to study in Arab

Regional Insurgency
Although young people are generally more religious than the older
generation, only a small portion actively support violent jihad.
Additionally, not all followers of non-traditional Islam are violent
jihadists, while many violent jihadists are not followers of nontraditional Islam but join the insurgency for non-ideological
reasons. The presence of armed jihadists can polarize a population
and in response some villagers have armed themselves in case of
conflict. Russian officials and security forces rarely distinguish
between peaceful and military jamaats, and their repression of the
former stimulates the emergence of the latter. An additional

headache for Moscow is the growing presence among insurgents of
ethnic Russian converts to Islam. Such individuals can more easily
infiltrate into Russian regions to engage in sabotage and terrorist
The North Caucasus insurrection has a primary Chechen origin.
Chechen resistance to Russian rule was divided between traditional
nationalists seeking to establish an independent secular state and
religious militants promoting a larger entity incorporating all the
republics. The Kremlin endeavored to demonize all Chechen
insurgents by denouncing them as terrorists with links to alQaeda.126 Indeed, all guerrillas are portrayed by Moscow as part of
the global jihad and not as indigenous people struggling for
independence. Additionally, official propaganda claims that
Chechen insurgents engage in terrorist activities around the world,
thus reinforcing their negative image as a universal threat.127
The Chechen national insurrection was increasingly Islamicized
after the mid-1990s largely because of the radicalizing experience of
military conflict with Russia.128 Religion was used for purposes of
mobilization and inspiration, with reference to the anti-Muscovite
religious wars of previous centuries. Religious radicalism was also
injected into the conflict through the presence of foreign jihadists,
often Arabs who arrived during the Chechen wars in the 1990s as
mujahideen volunteers. As in wartime Bosnia-Herzegovina, Arab
Salafis sought to merge with the native population by marrying local
women and spawning families. A few became respected military
leaders during the First Chechen War (19941996). One notable
example was the Saudi veteran of the Afghan-Soviet war, emir AlKhattab, who formed his own radical militia unit and served as the
chief link with international jihadists. However, there were no
organizational linkages between al-Qaeda and Chechen

Moscow claimed that one third of Chechen combatants were
mercenaries from the Middle East. In reality, foreign financing and
mujahideen volunteers had limited influence on the Chechen
resistance. The total number of Arab Islamist militants was
estimated at under 300.130 Their influence increased somewhat after
the First Russo-Chechen War when the notion of establishing an
Islamic state gained greater support. Unlike in Bosnia and Kosova,
whose statehood was widely accepted and where Western military
assistance terminated the destructive anti-civilian wars, Chechnya
became disillusioned by the lack of Western support. Without any
prospects for close ties with the West, in 1996 Chechnya was
declared an Islamic state.131
Shamil Basayev, the emir of the insurgent Liberation Army of the
Northern Caucasus, sought to unite Chechnya and Dagestan into a
single Islamic state imitating the Imamate of Imam Shamil that
resisted Tsarist Russia in the 19th century. In July 1999, a conflict
involving local Salafis erupted in several villages in the Tsumada
raiion in western Dagestan. Chechen guerrillas entered these villages
in September 1999 to defend a semi-autonomous Salafist enclave
and declared an Islamic Republic of Dagestan. Russian forces
eventually captured the villages and the Kremlin used the episode as
a pretext for launching the Second Chechen War. The Salafist
initiative was opposed by the majority of Dagestani Muslims who
feared a potential Chechen takeover of parts of their territory.
After Moscows re-invasion of Chechnya, the role of foreign and
local jihadists subsided. Chechnyas new leaders installed by
Moscow were staunch Sufis and blamed Salafis for the countrys
problems in order to undercut Salafist influences. Divisions between
local and foreign fighters have been underreported in the state
media. A similar situation prevailed in Bosnia-Herzegovina where
attempts to impose sharia law by foreign mujahideen were resisted
by Bosniak Muslims. In the North Caucasus, adat (customary law)

is irreconcilable with sharia, especially with regard to the institution
of the blood feud. For Salafis, jihad is a universal struggle to impose
a pure Islamic order. In contrast, the North Caucasus tradition of
ghazavat (holy war) served as an instrument of social mobilization
against external occupiers. Islam was primarily a valuable source of
joint identity that united numerous communities against a foreign
During the Russo-Chechen wars, Chechnyas key military leaders
such as Basayev established close ties with religious militants and
favored the creation of an Islamic state. However, their principal
aim was to liberate Chechnya from Russian rule. Strategists
calculated that in order to be successful the conflict had to be
expanded into other republics.133 With the death of Maskhadov in
March 2005 and the appointment of sheikh Abdul-Khalim Sadulaev
as president of the ousted Chechen government, the insurgency
acquired an increasingly Islamist dimension.134
Measures were taken to establish a more unified rebel structure and
all combat jamaats were organized into Caucasus Fronts, while their
leaders declared allegiance to Sadulaev as their Supreme Emir.
However, this integration occurred only at a higher strategic level, as
each jamaat continued to function largely independently. In June
2006, Russian special forces killed Sadulaev and the leadership of the
Chechen resistance passed to veteran rebel Dokka Umarov. Initially,
he was a secular figure who placed a greater emphasis on Chechen
liberation than on a regional jihad. However, he became
increasingly Islamicized and on November 21, 2007, declared a
region-wide Caucasus Emirate (CE)Imarat Kavkazto replace
the secular insurgent structures.135
It is disingenuous to claim that the Chechen war against Russia was
simply hijacked by religious radicals.136 In reality, Chechens have
been engaged in religious wars against Moscow since the 1780s or

have used religious symbolism to engender solidarity against
Russian invaders. The jihad declared by Umarov referred directly to
the tradition of Shamils multi-ethnic Imamate that resisted Tsarist
conquest in the 19th century. 137 Islam remains an integral and
unifying part of Chechen identity, even for the most secularized
nationalists.138 In November 1991, Johar Dudaev took an oath as
Chechen President on the Koran, the republic was termed Islamic,
and the struggle for independence was called jihad. Despite this use
of Islam to enhance national solidarity, until the first war with
Russia, the Chechen authorities remained committed to secularism.
The insurgent movement lacked political coherence after the death
of its military commander, Basaev, in July 2006. Although Umarov
cast himself as the Supreme Emir, the CE is a decentralized network
with limited cohesion and coordination. Local combat jamaats are
loosely tied together and subordinate to territorial sectors, which are
in turn nominally subordinate to the CEs fronts or provinces
designated as vilayats.139 The six vilayats include the territories of
Nokhchicho (Chechnya), Galgaine (Ingushetia), Iriston (North
Ossetia), Dagestan, the United Vilayat of Kabardia, Balkaria and
Karachay (Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia, and Adygea),
and the Nogay Steppe (Krasnodar krai and Stavropol krai). An emir
who has taken the Islamic loyalty oath or bayat to the CE chief
heads each vilayat.140 In May 2009, Iriston and Galgaine were joined
Local guerrilla cells act autonomously in small-scale missions, but
may combine under greater central coordination for larger
operations. Russian officials estimate the number of active fighters
to be between 400 and 1,500, while some calculate that the figure is
several times higher, with up to 15,000 insurgent auxiliaries
providing logistical support.141 The CEs capacity has expanded since
its inception. By the time of its five-year anniversary in October
2012, various units had carried out approximately 2,300 attacks.

Among the more active units is the Shariat jamaat in Dagestan.
The main concentration of Salafis is reported in several highland
villages in the Buinaksk district where people believe that
introducing sharia would end crime and disorder. 142 Salafist
strongholds have attracted young militants from various parts of the
republic. These parallel structures, which are not necessarily tied to
the insurgency, avoid any contact with officialdom and are no-go
zones for the police.143
In Dagestan, government policies have contributed to insurgent
recruitment. The authorities forced many peaceful Salafis into the
underground movement after a brutal campaign in 2007.144 The
rebels were later amnestied, but rejoined the insurgents in the fall of
2010 following targeted killings of Salafi leaders by local security
forces. The murder of jamaat leaders has failed to extinguish the
insurrection because they are easily replaced. In April 2013,
government forces conducted a large-scale counter-terrorism
operation in Gimry, a Dagestani village with historical significance
from the 19th century Russo-Caucasus War. Two famous imams and
natives of Gimry, Gazimagomed and Shamil, led the struggle against
Tsarist forces. Even though most residents of the village may not
support the insurgents they are also unwilling to surrender one of
their own people to the authorities.
The Ingush jamaat is based around a small guerrilla unit that has
been involved in raids on local officials and police forces. Official
killings of suspected insurgents invariably trigger blood feuds
between police and rebels. Since the 2010 capture of its leader, Emir
Magas, the Ingush insurgency has experienced a major overhaul of
its structure and leadership.145 Unlike Dagestan, where the jamaats
operate as independent groups, the Ingush jamaats were more
dependent on specific individuals, thus accounting for their limited
operations since 2010. However, there are indications that the
insurgency is being revived.


In Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, armed clashes

between Muslim rebels and government forces began in 2003. One
of the most dramatic operations by Islamist militants took place in
Nalchik, the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, on October 13, 2005.
About 150 insurgents attacked police stations, government offices,
and the FSB headquarters. The shoot-out culminated in the death of
35 security personnel, together with 92 rebels and 12 civilians,
including both Kabardins and Balkars. Official pressure on the
peaceful Muslim population as part of the struggle against
Wahhabism has inflamed youth revolt against Russian authorities.
Government policies also weaken the moderate organizations, as
restrictions are placed on Islamic activities and mosques are closed
down. Many young people thereby view radicalism as the sole
The emergence of the United Islamic Combat jamaat "Yarmuk" in
Kabardino-Balkaria in 2005 marked the expansion of the insurgency
among Circassians, Balkars and Karachays.147 Initially, its members
included people who had fought alongside Basaev and the jamaat
stressed its multi-ethnic composition. The jamaats activities were at
their peak during the leadership of Emir Seifullah (Anzor
Astemirov), who was killed on March 24, 2010. Astemirov became a
key leader in the CE when he was named the sharia judge and the
main ideologue who favored transforming the Chechen
independence movement into a panNorth Caucasus jihadist
network. 148 During 2013, the militant structure in KabardinoBalkaria experienced resurgence, as clashes with security forces
intensified before the parliamentary and gubernatorial elections in
September 2013.149
Some analysts view Umarov as a Chechen separatist and a follower
of traditional Sufism who sees jihad as a useful tool for insurgent
solidarity. 150 However, his declaration of an Islamic Emirate

covering the North Caucasus meant the abolition of the Chechen
Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI). As a result, some secular Chechen
leaders believed that it was an FSB plot to eradicate Chechen
independence. Observers also debate the degree of control that
Chechen militants exert over the spreading insurgency, particularly
in the western part of the North Caucasus.
Even in relatively peaceful North OssetiaAlania, there are signs of
growing religious militancy. In July 2013, Interior Minister Artur
Akhmetkhanov criticized the Muslim community for allowing
radicalism to spread in the republic. North Ossetia has a
predominantly Christian population of approximately 80%. CE
leaders do not recognize the separate status of the republic and
consider it a part of Ingushetia. Such a position has alienated North
Ossetian Muslims from their Ingush co-religionists. 151 Tensions
between Muslims and Orthodox Christians have also been reported
in several locations.
The murder of North Ossetias deputy mufti, Ibragim Dudarov, by
unknown assailants on December 27, 2012, contributed to
undermining stability. 152 Dudarovs assassination was the first
killing of a high-ranking Muslim cleric in the republic, although
such murders are commonplace elsewhere. Nearly two-dozen
imams were killed throughout the region between 2008 and 2012,
mostly in Dagestan. There are several possible interpretations about
Dudarovs murder. Some observers pointed the finger at Islamic
militants. However, unlike in other republics, there are no visible
conflicts between radical Muslims and official clerics in North
Ossetia. As Dudarov was responsible for educational projects of the
Spiritual Board of Muslims, he may have been perceived as
spreading Islam in North Ossetia and killed by Russian radicals or
the security services. The murder will compound radicalization
among Muslim youth.

According to Russias interior ministry, North Caucasus militants
obtain funds mostly through robberies, extortion from local
businesses, and donations from sympathizers, while foreign
financing remains secondary.153 However, Moscow is concerned that
North Caucasus mercenaries fighting with Sunni rebels in Syria who
return to Russia will have gained first-hand fighting experience that
they can apply at home. Several hundred jihadists from Russia are
among some 1,000 foreign fighters in the Army of the Emigre
Jihadists and Helpers (JMA). The JMAs emir is reportedly an ethnic
Chechen called Abu Umar al-Shishani, a major player among Syrias
jihadi rebels.154 The Syrian civil war will provide guerrillas with
resources, contacts, and foreign recruits in the insurrection against
Russia.155 They could also prove less loyal to the leadership of the CE
and establish their own insurgent groups.156

Religious Radicalism in Western Balkans

Religious radicalism is not a significant factor in the Western
Balkans, as the Muslim population is largely moderate, heterodox,
secular, and divided by ethnicity, language and doctrine. National
interests prevail over Islamic religious solidarity. Additionally, after
the breakup of Yugoslavia, the administrative boundaries of
religious institutions no longer coincided with state borders. For
instance, the mufti of the Sandzak region in Serbia is attached to the
Islamic Community of Bosnia-Herzegovina, while Albanian
Muslims in the Presevo valley of southern Serbia do not recognize
the authority of the mufti in Belgrade.157
Nationalist leaders exploited religious differences between Muslims
and Christians during Yugoslavias disintegration to prove that
coexistence within the same state was impossible. Nationalist
radicals sought to inflame religious sentiments as a component of
allegedly distinct historical identities in order to permanently divide

national communities and create ethnically pure states. For
instance, Serbian nationalists employed Christian Orthodox
religious symbolism and historical grievances against centuries of
Ottoman occupation to justify attacks on Muslim communities and
promulgate ethnic divisions. In some instances, Croatian Catholic
and Muslim Bosniak militants also engaged in such tactics against
rival ethnicities.
In order to discredit their political opponents, Serbian and Croatian
nationalists claim that Bosniaks are adopting militant Salafism.158 A
Salafi presence in the Western Balkans is not unique, as such groups
are active in every European country.159 But by alleging that Salafist
influence is expanding, leaders of the Serb entity in Bosnia pose as
defenders of endangered Serbian Christians. In reality, Islamism is
not a mainstream phenomenon, as the overwhelming majority of
Bosniak Muslims belong to the moderate Hanafi school of Sunni
Islam.160 Their secular attitudes have sparked disputes with foreign
Islamic radicals seeking to proselytize their puritanical beliefs.161
Nevertheless, an estranged minority may become susceptible to
ultra-conservative influences.
A Bosniak national identity has deepened since the 19921995 war
and is focused on maintaining the integrity of the Bosnian state.
Islam has served as a tool for consolidating ethnic unity rather than
being the final destination of identity politics.162 The notion of an
Islamic Bosniak state does not attract young people. It is estimated
that less than 10% of the Bosniak population favor the creation of a
Muslim Bosniak republic. Bosniak nationalism and Islamist
influence are more likely to expand if the country were to splinter.
Serbian and Croatian separatism could intensify the struggle within
the Islamic Community over the future of a smaller Bosniak state. A
partitioned Bosnia would heighten the grievances felt by the chief
victims of the war, convince a growing number of Bosniaks that they
had been betrayed by the Western powers, and open the terrain to

radical religious influences.
The Salafist movement in Bosnia-Herzegovina was imported during
the 19921995 war when mujahideen fighters from different parts of
the world volunteered to defend the Bosniaks. Their maximum
number was estimated at about 4,000 by the close of hostilities and
they generally lived in isolated rural communities. After the signing
of the Dayton accords in November 1995, about 1,300 remained in
the country and acquired Bosnian citizenship. Many of the Salafis
subsequently lost their citizenship under pressure from the
government and only 200 were left by 2010, most of them married
to local Bosniak women. There is no evidence that any sizeable
portion of the Muslim population has been influenced by the
Islamism of foreign fighters.163 Indeed, attempts to impose stricter
interpretations of Islam upon local Muslims provoked clashes
between Salafis and moderate Bosniaks who opposed the adoption
of sharia law.164
Salafist streams exist outside the control of the official Bosnian
Islamic Community and some of their members may be susceptible
to jihadist ideology either through contacts with a radical minority
among the diaspora or with non-Bosniak Salafis. Bosnias
intelligence services estimate there are about 3,000 followers of
Salafism in the country, mostly living in isolated communities.165
The Organization of Active Islamic Youth (OAIY), a radical Salafist
grouping with its headquarters in Zenica, was legally registered in
1995 and claims to have over 2,000 members, but this is probably an
exaggeration.166 The terrorist Mevlid Jasarevic who fired shots at the
U.S. embassy in Sarajevo on October 28, 2011, adhered to the radical
Takfir ideology advocating intolerance toward non-Muslims and
defying secular laws.167 Ismet Dahic, former head of the police in
Sarajevo, claimed it was possible that Serbian police agencies
recruited Jasarevic and sent him to Sarajevo to discredit the Bosnian


Sandzak is one of the poorest regions of Serbia, with high

unemployment that fosters social and political discontent among
the Muslim majority of 64.83% (154,814 people). Serbian security
services allege that Islamic fundamentalism is growing in the region,
with the establishment of militant organizations run by Salafis.168
Muslim leaders have protested against Belgrades attempt to
stigmatize the region as a stronghold of extremism. They challenge
portrayals of Sandzak radicalization as scaremongering that could
further damage inter-ethnic relations. Political leaders point out that
manifestations of religiosity do not equal Islamic militancy, but such
assertions by the state media undermine inter-religious tolerance.
Critics believe that Serbian officials deliberately try to divide the
Muslim community and to radicalize certain activists in order to
justify crackdowns and anti-Bosniak propaganda. Similarly to the
North Caucasus, the perception of an Islamist terrorist threat is
useful for the security services.
While the vast majority of Sandzak Muslims are moderates, militant
streams have gained some resonance among a segment of alienated
youths. Militants reportedly formed a jihadist group styled as
Kelimetul-Haqq (Words of Truth). 169 In March 2007, police
discovered a training camp for terrorists in Zabren village, thirty
kilometers from Novi Pazar, the largest city in Sandzak.170 They
arrested a group of young men, who were accused of illegal
possession of arms and planning acts of terrorism. On October 29,
2011, Serbian police detained seventeen people on suspicion of links
to the Islamist extremist who opened fire on the U.S. embassy in
Sarajevo.171 Among those arrested, twelve were from three towns in
Sandzak with large Islamic communities.
The main recruitment center for Balkan Salafis is considered to be
Vienna. Islamic aid agencies operating in Austria have channeled
funds to individuals associated with the Salafist movement. In

contrast, the major foreign Muslim influences in Bosnia emanate
from Turkey and other moderate Islamic states. Ankara has
increased its economic and cultural influences among Islamic
populations in the Balkans and contributes to undercutting Salafist
In denigrating Kosovas aspirations toward independence, Belgrade
has manipulated Islamic terrorist stereotypes that carry resonance in
the West. Moscow adopted the same approach toward Chechnya.
Despite Belgrades assertions, the Kosova Liberation Army (KLA)
was a nationalist insurgent grouping lacking any jihadist
dimension.173 Even those who viewed it as a terrorist formation did
not consider it Islamist. Although some Salafist groups have been
active in Kosova through charity work and the restoration of
mosques, their ideology has limited political impact.174 Nonetheless,
religious conservatism may gain influence among some segments of
the population.175 Observers cite efforts by the religious Justice Party
to amend the constitution, which declares Kosova a secular state, to
allow hijab in public schools, and to construct a large mosque in
Prishtina to absorb the growing numbers of worshippers.
As in the North Caucasus, a rural-urban division is also evident in
religious practice in the Western Balkans. The neglect of rural
Albanian communities in Kosova may leave the door open to
Islamist militants.176 Secular Western aid agencies have not been as
active in rural Kosova as Saudi-based humanitarian groups,
operating under the umbrella of the Saudi Joint Committee for the
Relief of Kosovo and Chechnya (SJCRKC). Saudi-sponsored bodies
promote an intolerant form of Islam that could foster the creation of
militant territorial enclaves. Kosovar analysts attribute rising piety
among poorer sectors of society to the impact of Muslim charities.
Several Muslim NGOs have rebuilt mosques destroyed during the
1999 war, provide financial help to orphans, and conduct health and
educational projects. Salafis also seek to finance their activities by

controlling the most profitable mosques and recruiting new
members through religious gatherings and lectures.
A Salafist political movement, Bashkohu (Join), registered as a
political party in Kosova in 2013.177 The movement has organized
protests in Prishtina in support of building a grand new mosque and
against schools that prevent girls with hijabs from attending classes.
The partys official leader is Arsim Krasniqi, and one of its founders,
Fuad Ramiqi, was believed to have links with Middle East radicals.
However, most experts believe that the impact of Bashkohu on
political life will be minimal.
A resurgence of Islamic identity has been evident in Macedonia,
partly as a means of protection against the close links between the
ruling party and the Macedonian Orthodox Church. Any favoritism
shown to the Orthodox Church in Macedonias nation-building
project serves to strengthen Islamic identity among Slavic, Turkic
and Albanian Muslims. However, this does not translate into a rapid
growth in religious radicalism. There are reportedly 3,000 Salafis in
Macedonia, mostly among Albanian and Bosniak Muslims. 178
Foreign and local Islamists gain inroads through humanitarian and
educational work among the poorest sectors of society. Their
activities are financed by donations from Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria
and Iran. Religious extremists recruit marginalized young people,
the unemployed and those without proper education, provide social
networks and a sense of solidarity, and emphasize religious identity
above ethnicity.
Official corruption and organized criminality also enable terrorist
cells to infiltrate the Balkans. The terrorist attack on Israeli tourists
in Burgas, Bulgaria on July 18, 2012 focused attention on a region
that some observers view as a potential hub of anti-Western
terrorism. Although militant Islamist influence is a marginal
phenomenon, the extreme acts of individuals can upset inter72

communal relations. Isolated terrorist incidents can misrepresent
the Balkans as a major recruiting ground for jihadists. Some local
Salafis have reportedly participated in the civil war in Syria on the
side of the rebels.179 They usually join the al-Nusra Front, a Sunni
group affiliated with al-Qaeda in Iraq. In the case of Kosova, such
recruitment is evidently carried out in two mosques, in Prishtina
and Mitrovica. Some observers have criticized the Kosovar
government for remaining silent about the mobilization of young
Kosovars for the Syrian war. This could have a negative impact on
Kosova itself once these fighters return home with military
experience, radicalized beliefs and militant foreign contacts.

The Struggle for Islam

There is a struggle for Islamic authority in the North Caucasus and
the Western Balkans. The former has experienced a more extensive
religious revival and a decline in secularism. However, distinctions
need to be made between an Islamic renaissance, characterized by
the building of Muslim institutes and competition for leadership of
Muslim Spiritual Boards, and the growth of Salafist ideology that
feeds armed militancy.180 Moscow has operated on the erroneous
assumption that Islam functions like the Orthodox Church, with a
hierarchy of authority through which believers can be controlled. In
reality, local imams and independent scholars have carried more
weight than any official authority and new streams of Islam compete
for public influence.181
North Caucasus Muslims adhere to the moderate Hanafi and Shafi
schools of jurisprudence of Sunni Islam. A majority in the eastern
republics practice Sufism, a mystical and highly ritualized form of
Islam. However, Sufism is not necessarily a unifying force in the
region, as Sufis in Chechnya and Dagestan are divided into two rival

Khalidiyya, which prevails in Dagestan, and the Qadiriyya-Kunta
Hajji, widespread in Chechnya and Ingushetia. Furthermore, these
two tariqas are subdivided into several virds (branches) and since
most virds are mono-ethnic, tariqa and vird membership is
intertwined with ethnic identity. Additionally, the Sufis have
advocated opposite policies in different republics: in Chechnya the
Qadiriyya supported the struggle against Russia, in Dagestan the
Naqshbandiyya favored remaining inside Russia.
Since the 11th century, Dagestan has been the center of Islamic
scholarship for the North Caucasus and supplied spiritual leadership
for the entire area. Resistance to Russian rule was conducted under
the banner of Islam and the leadership of the Sufi brotherhood. By
the end of the Soviet period, the majority of the indigenous people
identified as Muslims but avoided contact with the functionaries of
official Islam who were viewed as KGB agents.182 Traditional Islam
in Dagestan is prone to division along ethnic lines and some groups
have not recognized the new muftis who were predominately Avar.
Control over Islamic institutions merged with the republics internal
power struggles, in which ethnicity played a central role.183
A combination of dire economic conditions, government
ineffectiveness, and the inadequacy of the muftiate, provides fertile
soil for various forms of non-official Islam. The new Muslims
often address key social problems, are critical of traditional social
stratification, and seek to replace it with an inclusive Islamic
identity.184 Competition over Islam is not evident simply between
moderates and radicals, but among different forms of Islam,
including the traditional Islam characteristic of rural areas, which
amalgamates local customs (adat) and Sufi rituals, and modern
forms of reformist Islam in urban areas.185 The Islamic revival is
often a contradictory process, involving modernistic adaptations of
Islam together with utopian streams of salvationist Salafism. A
renovationist urban wave is seeking to dilute ethnicity and other

factors that fragment Islam. However, ideological pressures from
militant jamaats in combination with government persecution have
divided the renovationists and pushed some of their followers
toward armed militancy.
According to recent sociological surveys, the majority of young
Dagestanis is fundamentalist and wants sharia law established.186
70% of people in the fundamentalist religious underground are
young people, 58% believe that sharia laws must take precedence
over those of the state, and 30% are prepared to engage in open
protest against the government if it violates Islamic norms.
Nonetheless, because of overwhelming Sufi influence, 74.4% of
Muslims of all ages oppose Salafism and only 3.1% of young people
are prepared to join the militant Islamist underground.
Salafism has gained support by transcending ethnic and clan
divisions and rejecting the religious hierarchy. However, its strict
social and religious requirements and intolerance of national
traditions have proved unacceptable to most of the population.
Despite such sentiments, the periodic arrest of Salafi imams together
with the destruction of newspapers, books, videos of sermons,
prayer houses, and mosques, strengthens the radicals and
contributes to overcoming their internal divisions.
In order to bring about the Islamic revolution, insurgents have
assassinated state officials, attacked the security forces, bombed
civilian targets, and engaged in an economic war to destroy
Russias strategic assets. They have also increasingly targeted the
official Islamic clergy, accusing them of being religious apostates
and allies of Moscow. The appearance in Dagestan of political Islam,
particularly Salafism, compelled the Sufi clergy and the excommissars to join forces against it.187 Republican governments
throughout the North Caucasus have manipulated the alleged threat
of Wahhabism to raise their own profile as the defenders of

threatened national interests. One destabilizing trend visible in
Russia is the nationalization of religion, in which religious affiliation
becomes the most important component of ethno-national
identity.188 This phenomenon is especially threatening if it divides
Muslims from Christians and contributes to Russias ruptures. A
parallel divisive tendency is the politicization of religion, whereby
Russias Orthodox Church is assuming a more pronounced political
role and espousing Russian nationalist and imperialist doctrines.
According to Russian specialist Yana Amelina, a common Islamist
front links the North Caucasus with the Middle Volga and an
eclectic Islamist ideology has emerged combining Arab and local
views across the North Caucasus.189 Arab culture is not displacing
indigenous culture but supplementing it and making it more
difficult for Moscow to combat. Much of Russias Islamic clergy
feels threatened by manifestations of political Islam and cooperates
closely with the state apparatus in combating Islamist groups. The
officially sponsored Islamic authorities see Moscow as the main
source of funding and protection from radicals. Islamists, in turn,
condemn these bodies for subservience to the state and assisting in
the repression of Muslims. 190 Islamic clergy approved by the
government are major targets for insurgent attacks, as they are
labeled as apostates. Such assaults can lead to increasing
polarization between Sufis and Salafis even across ethnic lines.
Moderate leaders supporting a Muslim renaissance have been
targeted by republican authorities fearing a loss of power, as well as
by jihadists who view them as a source of competition for public
influence. For instance, in August 1998, Said-Magomed Abubakov,
the head mufti of Dagestan who transformed the Spiritual Board of
Muslims into an independent political player, was assassinated in
the center of the capital Makhachkala. Some analysts suspect that
the killing was arranged by Russian security forces to provoke
conflicts between moderate Sufis and radical Salafis and to make the

moderates dependent on the state for protection. Moscow seeks to
subjugate the most significant Islamic leaders and organizations and
to sever their international connections. There are plans to relocate
the Coordinating Center for Muslims of the North Caucasus from
Moscow to Mineralnyi Vody in Stavropol krai, and to re-establish
the unified office of a head mufti under Kremlin control.
Ingush authorities have tried to silence Khamzat Chumakov, a
widely respected cleric who has repeatedly criticized human rights
abuses and corruption within Ingushetias leadership.191 Chumakov
has acquired cult status in the region because of his sermons
denouncing bloodshed and Islamic extremism and exhorting
citizens to remain faithful to Ingush national values. He has been
pressured to step down as imam because the republics leader
Yevkurov is resentful of Chumakovs popularity among young
people who are jobless and alienated from the government.
In clear indications of a struggle over Islamic authority that also has
ethnic components, on August 3, 2013, the Sufi sheikh Ilyas-haji
Ilyasov was murdered in Dagestan. He became the third popular
cleric to be killed in recent years.192 Sheikh Said-Efendi Chirkeiski,
an ethnic Avar and one of the most prominent figures in the Sufi
hierarchy, was killed in August 2012. Sirazhutdin Khurikski, the
most influential Sufi sheikh in southern Dagestan, was murdered in
October 2011. While Chirkeiski had close ties to the authorities,
Khurikski, an ethnic Tabasaran, opposed the government. Ilyasov
was an influential Kumyk, popular for criticizing the administration
and the Spiritual Board of Dagestan. Various interests may have
benefited from his death. The Dagestani authorities and the
Spiritual Board no longer face an authoritative person who
challenges Avar domination at the expense of Kumyk interests.
Ilyasovs death also benefitted the Salafis, since he published
polemical articles against Salafist attacks on Sufism. Ilyasovs
murder damaged Kumyk interests. The slain cleric represented

Kumyk claims in multiple land disputes with ethnic groups that are
resettling in the Kumyk lowlands, and he sympathized with Tenglik,
the Kumyk national movement. The ongoing confrontation between
Dagestans authorities and Kumyk groups demanding autonomy
may have motivated his murder.
In the Western Balkans, Muslims are even more divided than in the
North Caucasus, as there is no overarching collective identity
bridging different ethnicities, languages, and historical origins.193
Muslim leaders in ex-Yugoslavia generally supported the
independence of republics based primarily on ethno-national
principles (Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosova), much like the Catholic
(Croatia, Slovenia) and Orthodox (Serbia, Macedonia) religious
hierarchies. In contrast, the officially approved Muslim clergy in the
North Caucasus does not overtly favor republican independence or
the creation of a regionwide Islamic state.
The overwhelming majority of Balkan Muslims adhere to
mainstream Sunni Islam of the Hanafi school of jurisprudence and
view Salafism and other fundamentalist streams as retrograde.194
Nonetheless, in several states, the struggle for religious influence
and control over official Islamic institutions has intensified in recent
years.195 Various actors challenge the monopoly of official Islam,
including neo-Sufi movements, revivalists, modernists and different
strains of Salafism. A radical Salafist minority has attempted to gain
control over the official Islamic communities in BosniaHerzegovina, Sandzak, Macedonia, Albania and Kosova, but with
limited success.196
The Islamic Community (IC) in Bosnia-Herzegovina is the
administrative authority for Bosnian Muslims, but its exclusivity is
challenged by the presence of other Islamic networks, including
Salafis. 197 The control of mosques yields the strongest influence,
especially in rural areas, where the mosque is the key community

institution. Some mosques and other institutions act independently
from the IC, especially where imams have been educated at Islamic
universities in the Muslim world. The IC has welcomed Saudi
funding that contributed to the rebuilding of several hundred
mosques. However, this aid came at a price, with the growth of
Salafist groups heavily influenced by Saudi Arabian networks.198
Religious literature donated by the Saudi government tends to
reflect Salafist views, while mosques and cultural centers usually
employ Salafist-leaning local staff and preachers.
Since the mid-1990s, thousands of young secular Albanians have
travelled to Arab countries on educational scholarships, with many
embracing religious outlooks. Others have come into contact with
radical Islamists while working in Western Europe. They
subsequently assume control of selected mosques, madrasas, and
other Islamic institutions, and aspire to leading positions in the
Albanian Muslim Community (AMC).199 They harbor a stronger
sense of Islamic identity than older Albanian Muslims, who are less
versed in Koranic studies. Salafi missionaries have made inroads
among Albanias Muslims in two main areas: training imams and
distributing religious literature. Traditional organizations do not
possess the financial resources to provide Islamic education or
address the glaring material needs of their constituents. The Muslim
Forum of Albania has been the most visible Islamist challenger to
the mainstream Islamic community.200
A growing concern in Albania and Kosova is the attempt by
Islamists to create divisions on religious grounds in a nation that has
been multi-denominational for centuries. In Macedonia they have
also tried to generate Albanian nationalism and antagonism toward
the government. Islamists seek to convert other Muslims, as well
as non-Muslims, by providing funds, travel, education, and
employment under the sponsorship of foreign Islamic bodies.
However, it is misleading to label every form of foreign assistance to

local Muslim communities as Islamist proselytizing, since charity
work and encouraging a religious revival do not necessarily equate
with intolerant radicalism.
Similarly to the North Caucasus, moderate imams in the Balkans are
viewed by Salafist zealots as corrupt and guilty of espousing an
adulterated version of Islam. As a consequence, tensions have been
visible between radical and moderate imams in Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Serbia and Montenegro. 201 However, not all Salafist imams are
committed to political activism or destabilizing the state. Many are
deeply religious individuals with little or no involvement in politics.
Defining all Salafis as militants and terrorists may create a sense of
paranoia, drive them underground, and ultimately prove counterproductive by weakening the moderate majority and bolstering the



The Russian Federation will not disintegrate solely because of
escalating conflicts in the North Caucasus. However, developments
in this volatile zone can provide a catalyst for state fracture.
Relations between the federal center and many of the countrys
regions are deteriorating. Russia contains 21 ethnic republics and
several dozen regions whose schisms with Moscow are widening as a
result of unresolved political demands and economic grievances.
Regionalism is increasingly challenging the territorial integrity of
the federation while Russias economic growth model, based on raw
material exports, is nearing exhaustion. During 2013, Moscow
slashed its economic growth forecasts and any future drop in oil
prices would contribute to intensifying pressures on the federal
budget and the Kremlins capabilities to hold the country together.
Allowing for the secession of restive North Caucasus republics could
enable Russia to focus on its pressing economic challenges, but this
can also inspire other separatist movements.
Denis Sokolov, head of Moscows Center for Socio-Economic
Research of Regions, has described developments in the North
Caucasus as the continuation of the disintegration of the USSR,
where regional resistance is an anticolonial movement. 203
However, unlike the post-Soviet states, any countries that emerge
from the Russian Federation are likely to remain contested states,
lacking acceptance into international institutions or recognition as
independent entities. They will also confront internal conflicts and

may generate external disputes with neighbors.
Although EU membership is not the panacea for resolving all
remaining disputes in the Western Balkans, the credible and timely
prospect of accession into the Union helps to keep democratic
reforms on track as conditions for entry. Without such reforms
some of the progress achieved since the end of the Yugoslav Wars
(19911999) can unravel. The EU itself is in the grips of prolonged
economic and institutional uncertainty. While the Unions
limitations as a hard power have been evident in its disjointed
foreign policies and restricted military capabilities, its model of
integration may also fade as an instrument of attraction if it closes
its doors to further enlargement. Such a prospect could rekindle
ethnic and national animosities in parts of the Western Balkans.

Spreading Insurrection
The genesis of armed insurrection against contemporary Russian
rule dates back to the closing years of the Soviet Union and the
crushing of Chechen independence. On April 26, 1990, Soviet
President Mikhail Gorbachev signed a law that, in effect, made
Autonomous Republics (AR) equal with Union Republics (UR). The
legislation stated that in the event that URs seceded from the Soviet
Union, the ARs had the right to secede from the URs and remain in
the USSR.204 However, as the Soviet Union collapsed, the only choice
for the ARs was between remaining within the newly formed states
or forming separate entities. By default, Chechnya and all other
North Caucasus republics obtained equal status with Russia and
could opt for independence. Nationalist politician Dzhokhar
Dudaev was elected Chechen President in October 1991, and an
independent Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) was proclaimed
on November 2, 1991. Ingushetia split from Chechnya and was
declared a republic in June 1992 but remained part of the Russian


Russias President Boris Yeltsin asserted that he would use all means
to reverse Chechnyas secession and launched the First RussoChechen War in December 1994. 205 Russian forces captured the
capital Grozny following an intensive bombing campaign, in which
approximately 25,000 civilians perished. Although vastly
outnumbered, Chechen forces defeated the Russian military and
retook Grozny during August 1996. On August 25, 1996, a peace
agreement between Russia and Chechnya was concluded in
Khasavyurt and a formal treaty was signed in Moscow on May 12,
1997. The accords declared Chechnya to be a sovereign entity and a
subject of international law. In effect, Russia recognized Chechnya
as a sovereign state even though the implementation of all attributes
of statehood was deferred for five years.
Under Dudaevs successor, Aslan Maskhadov, a quasi-independent
Chechnya that had been decimated by the Russian military
onslaught was internationally isolated and economically blockaded
by Moscow. This contributed to aggravating institutional
weaknesses, lawlessness and economic decline.206 The ambitions of
competing military field commanders and a fragmented leadership
were not conducive for establishing a centralized state structure.
Salafist radicals also created their own military units and expanded
their influence. Maskhadov, who was elected President in January
1997, was increasingly unable to control internal security or the
incursions of armed Salafist units into Dagestan, which provided a
useful pretext for another Russian military intervention.
The newly appointed Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin
violated treaty obligations with Grozny by launching the Second
Russo-Chechen War in October 1999.207 Moscow managed to divide
the Chechen resistance by forging links with selected field
commanders and co-opting them into a new government. Russian

forces captured Grozny in February 2000 and terminated Chechen
independence, driving the government and parliament into exile.
While many secular Chechen officials were isolated abroad, local
religious radicals increased their influence. In the summer of 2002,
an emergency meeting of the remnants of the ChRI government and
armed forces was convened. A cross-ethnic and religious-based
focus was adopted, with the goal of expanding the insurgency across
the North Caucasus.
On October 5, 2003, Imam Akhmad Kadyrov was installed as
Chechnyas President by the Russian government. When he was
murdered by insurgents in April 2004, his son Ramzan Kadyrov was
appointed by the Kremlin as his successor. 208 Meanwhile,
Chechnyas legitimate President, Aslan Maskhadov (in March 2005),
and his successor, Abdul-Hamil Sadulayev (in June 2006), were
killed by Russian security services, after which Dokka Umarov
assumed the ChRI presidency. In October 2007, Umarov announced
the termination of the Ichkerian Republic and the creation of the
Caucasus Emirate (CE).209 His ambition to spread the insurgency
throughout the region was calculated to overstretch Russias security
Moscow and Grozny struck an alliance with traditional Sufi clergy
and the tariqas (Sufi brotherhoods) in a common struggle against
Salafism.210 Kadyrov used Sufi Islam to prove his credentials as a
Chechen patriot and to pursue an Islamic conservative revival. He
has presided over a Sufi form of Islam by meshing political, religious
and social life. Although Moscow has tried to pose as the defender of
traditional Sufi Islam against radicals inspired by foreign ideologies,
in effect Chechnya is becoming a distinct territory that no longer
observes the principles of Russias secular system. 211 This may
challenge the unity of the Russian state, especially if Kadyrov seeks
to export the Chechen model to other Muslim regions.


Kadyrov has recruited former rebels in his militia, the kadyrovtsy,
believed to number about 4,000 fighters. However, the sympathy of
many militia members for the insurgency is widely acknowledged.
Some analysts contend that Kadyrovs authoritarian regime is
stealthily moving toward independence by co-opting separatist
guerrillas into its ranks. Alternatively, if Kadyrov were assassinated,
the current state structure, based upon the personal loyalty of the
Chechen leader to Putin, could unravel and Moscow would be faced
with tens of thousands of heavily armed Chechens.
The Russian governments announcement of victory in Chechnya in
the spring of 2009, turned out to be pyrrhic. Moscow has been losing
its grip over Kadyrov, while the insurgency spilled into the
neighboring republics of Dagestan and Ingushetia. According to
Charles King and Rajan Menon, there are persistent worries in
Moscow that he [Ramzan Kadyrov] has built his own state within a
stateoffering a model for how savvier Chechens, Circassians, and
others might one day gain the kind of de facto autonomy, perhaps
even independence, that previous generations failed to win. 212
Moreover, the huge resources that have been provided to Grozny
have generated a strong belief among some Chechen leaders in the
legitimacy of a Greater Chechnya that would incorporate Ingushetia
and Dagestan, with a strategic link to the Caspian Sea.213
Kadyrovs forces are not fully subordinated to the federal
government and it remains uncertain where their loyalties will
veer.214 Kadyrov remains the only republican head who controls the
local security services and has called for the removal of all federal
troops from Chechnya. Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya, head of the
Russian office of the International Crisis Group, believes that
Moscows Chechenization policy may represent a form of soft
exit from the Russian Federation.215 If Kadyrov concludes that the
federal government is weakening and state subsidies decline, he may
revive the option of independence. Kadyrovs authoritarian regime

could be turned into a state-building project based on a synthesis of
Chechen nationalism and traditionalist Sufi Islam.
The North Caucasus is currently the most violent conflict zone in
Europe. At least 700 people were killed and 525 wounded in 2012,
and 242 killed and 253 wounded in the first six months of 2013.216
Conditions throughout the region are deteriorating and it appears
to be on the verge of a broader war. According to Paul Goble, there
are three reasons for these developments: Islam and nationalism are
reinforcing one another; armed militants have changed their
strategy by shifting to smaller groups that are harder to locate; and
conditions in each republic are increasingly diverse and cannot be
resolved through a single policy prescription.217
Moscow confronts a gray zone along its southern borders where
its coercive instruments exacerbate public resentment. The North
Caucasus is witnessing a process of latent separation where the
population is increasingly estranged from the state.218 The social and
political fabric of Russian statehood is rupturing, while parallel
social, political and legal structures, including Islamic jamaats, are
replacing it. Regional power elites are also facing a crisis of
legitimacy, as they are progressively isolated from the population. In
this context, the conflict should be viewed primarily as an
insurrection and not a terrorist offensive. 219 Terrorism is an
operational tactic, while insurgency is a strategic-level campaign.
Terrorism is one among many instruments employed by anti-state
groups in an essentially political struggle for territorial separation
from Russia. The objective of the insurgents is to undermine
government authority, capture public support, and create an
independent political structure and a separate state.
The Yugoslav wars also involved irregular militia forces either
sponsored by republican governments seeking to break away from
the federal structure or by the government in Belgrade intent on


keeping Yugoslavia together. Proxies of the Serbian-Yugoslav
government conducted mass atrocities in pursuit of an ethnically
homogenous and enlarged Serbian state or to preserve a truncated
Yugoslavia. Some Croatian and Bosniak militias also perpetrated
atrocities against Serbian civilians to consolidate their territorial
control and ensure ethnic uniformity for the newly emerging states.
Insurgent strategies and tactics in the North Caucasus have focused
on undermining the authority of both the federal state and the
republican governments in the pursuit of secession. These have
included assassinations, ambushes, bombings, and small unit or
individual attacks, usually targeting local police, border guards,
government officials, judges and security personnel. Rebel leaders
have come to view indiscriminate terrorism as counterproductive
and mainly engage in strikes on government representatives and the
bombing of infrastructure and mass transportation to disrupt
economic activities. Economic hardship assists the guerrillas by
demonstrating that the government lacks a credible program for
Nonetheless, terrorism against civilians is not discounted, as it
attracts media attention and underscores that the government
cannot protect citizens, thus decreasing state legitimacy. The
urbanization of insurgencies in the North Caucasus also favors
terrorism, since guerrillas have a target-rich environment in cities
for undermining the government.220 Arbitrary official repression
following terrorist attacks further erodes government credibility and
fuels insurrection. Some Russian analysts have noted the growth of
nihilist or social terrorism in the region, whose primary objective
is neither ethnic nor religious but the destruction of state
institutions. Such groups may prove even more difficult to identify
and suppress.221
At the beginning of July 2013, Umarovs CE announced the

expiration of a moratorium on attacks against Russian civilians that
was declared on February 2, 2012.222 The CE would evidently focus
on disrupting the Sochi Olympics in February 2014. While militants
may find it difficult to carry out terrorist acts at the Olympic
facilities because of tight security, they can attract attention by
staging attacks elsewhere in the region or in major Russian cities
such as Volgograd. 223 Umarov is believed to be based in the
Achkhoi-Martan district of Chechnya and the adjacent Sunzha
district of Ingushetia, and has evaded numerous raids by Russian
special forces. Chechen guerrillas operate in several safe havens in
Ingushetia. However, Dagestan has become the epicenter of the
North Caucasus insurgency. Several hundred local and federal
security force members, public administrators, politicians, ministers
and journalists have been murdered in the republic during the past
decade. Throughout 2012, 405 people were killed and 290 injured in
armed clashes.224 In the first half of 2013, at least 153 people were
killed and 162 injured.
Dagestans anti-Wahhabism law criminalized many moderate
young Muslims and drove them toward the insurgents. Dagestani
leader Magomedsalam Magomedov, appointed in 2010, tried to take
the sting out of the insurgency by asserting his readiness for
dialogue with Salafis and by allowing militants to establish their own
political structure, the Association Ahl al-Sunna, as well as
newspapers, a TV station and mosques. 225 He adopted a more
inclusive model of counter-terrorism than in Chechnya by
permitting greater religious freedom and communication with noncombatant Salafis.226 Dagestan has the largest Salafist community in
the North Caucasus, with numerous mosques, schools, civic and
human rights organizations, and charities. Salafis form a minority of
believers, but have evolved into an active and growing community,
especially among urban youth.



Magomedov included Salafis on the republican-sponsored Spiritual
Board, while Sufi and Salafist leaders held meetings with village
jamaats to overcome their schism. Dagestans mufti Akhmad-Khaji
Abdullayev and the association of Salafist scholars led the dialogue.
Insurgent leaders were not interested in talks and charged the
Spiritual Board with seeking to fragment the Islamic population and
alienate it from the jihadists. The dialogue was terminated following
the murder of sheikh Said Afandi, the most influential Muslim cleric
in the North Caucasus, by a newly converted Islamist on August 28,
2012. The apparent objective of the assassination was to make intraconfessional dialogue impossible and cause Dagestan to implode in
Magomedovs replacement in January 2013, Ramazan Abdulatipov,
adopted a harsher approach toward Islamists in the deteriorating
security situation. He terminated the nascent dialogue between
adherents of various Islamic groupings and disbanded the
Commission for Adapting Militants.227 Abdulatipov claimed he was
prepared to permit the destruction of radicals and sponsored the
creation of druzhinniki groups, some of which engage in extrajudicial killings. He also demanded lists of Salafis to be compiled,
especially those who are likely to return from the Syrian civil war.228
Both secular and Islamist activists reject Russian control and seek
greater independence for their republics.229 Dagestan itself is sinking
rapidly into uncontrolled chaos and may fall apart along ethnic
lines. Nogay representatives campaign for a separate federal subject,
Chechens want their regions to join with Chechnya, Kumyks seek a
distinct entity, and Azeri activists claim that the Derbent region
should merge with Azerbaijan. Islamists, liberals, traditionalists, and
nationalists ultimately support Dagestans detachment from Russia.
Numerous political activists and religious leaders do not recognize
Russias jurisdiction and see no peaceful exit from the federation.
Even an official Russian 2005 report produced for Putin admitted

that Dagestan faced a possible process of fragmentation and the
emergence of several ethnic statelets and Salafist enclaves.230
In the northwest Caucasus, Russian authorities systematically
murdered or expelled the indigenous Circassians during the 1860s.
Since that time Moscow has endeavored to obliterate all traces of
Circassian origins in Krasnodar and Stavropol krais, prevented any
moves toward national self-determination, and disallowed members
of the large Circassian diaspora from visiting their ancestral
homeland.231 Such a policy radicalizes the younger generation of
Circassian activists and even antagonizes local leaders who have
been loyal to the Kremlin.
A new consensus focused on victimhood is reportedly emerging
among Circassians. On March 25, 2013, the Circassian organization
Adyge Khase (Circassian Parliament) stated that any person who
does not recognize the Circassian genocide in the 1860s is precluded
from holding positions in Circassian organizations.232 On March
1213, 2013, officials and activists from the three Circassianinhabited republics (Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia and
Adygea) together with representatives of the Circassian diaspora
agreed on a set of measures to defend their common language and
culture. 233 This represented an important breakthrough for a
community that has been politically divided. The agreements
included the adoption of laws making Circassian the only official
language alongside Balkar in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay in
Karachay-Cherkessia, and demoting Russian to the status of a
secondary language. Circassian is to become the principal
language in the media and education, while Russified names are to
be dropped and Circassian originals restored.
According to Circassian leaders, support for a separate Circassian
state is growing in the region.234 The idea is to combine Circassianinhabited territories in Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia,


Adygea and parts of Stavropol krai, with Sochi as the capital. A
dialogue has been initiated with leaders of the Karachay, Balkar and
Cossack populations, and they have been offered autonomous
regions within the aspiring Circassian state. Circassian republican
leaders may also position themselves in support of statehood if
Moscows control begins to dissipate.
While Circassians are rediscovering their shared identity, the
regional insurgency in Circassian-inhabited republics has
expanded. 235 On April 25, 2013, Kabardino-Balkarias Deputy
Interior Minister Kazbek Tatuev stated that the insurrection may
involve several thousand members and includes Circassians, Balkars
and Karachays. The Interior Ministry admitted that there has not
been a single case of a rebel surrendering to the authorities. Also
noted is a recent shift in tactics by insurgents, from indiscriminate
assaults to more focused operations against government officials,
police and official Muslim clergy.236 Targeting selected figures may
indicate improved operational capabilities, as well as more extensive
local support for armed resistance.

Anti-Liberation Strategies
The Kremlin has propagated two simplistic myths about the conflict
in the North Caucasus: that it is a battlefield of global jihad, and that
all guerrillas are members of the global terrorist movement.237 Since
the First Russo-Chechen War (19941996), Moscow has tried to
delegitimize the Chechen national liberation movement by
depicting rebels as bandits, criminals and terrorists. Putin used the
Chechen conflict to revive Russian nationalism, strengthen state
power, eliminate regional autonomy, and recentralize the
federation. The Second Russo-Chechen War (19992000) was
portrayed as a wholly anti-terrorist operation, in which Chechnya
was one battlefield in the global conflict with Islamist extremism.
Moscows objective was to garner international support and silence

Western criticisms of its anti-civilian atrocities.238 This propaganda
initiative was assisted by the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S. and the
September 2004 Beslan school massacre in North OssetiaAlania,
thus linking the entire insurgency movement with Islamist
terrorism. The Beslan atrocity may have been intended by
insurgents to provoke armed conflicts between Christian Ossetians
and Muslim Ingush, and spark a wider regional conflagration.
Putin has asserted that the main danger to Russias territorial
integrity is Islamic fundamentalism. To defeat this threat, Kremlin
strategy has combined force, repression, the installation of loyal
regional leaders, and massive economic assistance to the ruling
elite.239 However, this policy has only provided superficial stability
and increased disaffection throughout the region, as federal funding
has failed to stimulate economic development.240 Salafis and other
devout Muslims have become the perennial scapegoats for the
republics problems and easy targets for local authorities who enrich
themselves on federal funds purportedly earmarked for combating
the guerrillas.
After branding the Chechen war as an anti-terrorist campaign to
discredit the rebel leadership, Moscow turned the conflict into a civil
war among Chechens and declared victory. This policy has failed, as
Chechenization led to an excessive reliance on one local powerbroker, the Kadyrov family.241 Chechenization meant installing a
loyal leadership, who in return for eschewing separatism would be
free to engage in corruption and repression. Such an approach
enables Moscow to present any conflicts as an internal Chechen
affair and deny responsibility for war crimes.242
In attempts to imitate the Chechen model, Moscow has appointed
leaders in other republics. The head of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek
Yevkurov, and Dagestani leader Ramazan Abdulatipov have
employed Kadyrovs methods in combating the insurgency.


However, such a strategy can backfire because it alienates the
citizenry and magnifies vendettas against local governments
perceived as foreign implants. Such policies risk making these
entities ungovernable, as republican leaders lose control over ethnic
and economic interest groups, thus allowing greater scope for
religious radicals. Alternatively, in the case of Chechnya, the
ambitions of the empowered local ruler will test Groznys relations
with Moscow, especially if Kadyrov increasingly adopts Chechen
nationalism to legitimize his rule.
By depicting the separatist insurgencies throughout the North
Caucasus as terrorist conspiracies, Moscow aims to legitimize the
use of any means to combat the enemy and to downplay the extent
of opposition to federal control. Russias anti-terrorism campaign is
designed to characterize the Putin regime as the most effective
answer to the countrys problems.243 Moreover, by portraying the
war principally as a struggle against radical Islamism, Moscow
presents itself as the bastion of liberty to gain broad international
support. Kremlin propaganda is emulating that of Serbias Milosevic
toward separatist leaders in Yugoslavia in the 1990s, who were
branded as political extremists and, in the case of BosniaHerzegovina and Kosova, as Islamic fundamentalists.
Moscows counter-insurgency strategy has been heavily reliant on
killing rebels and destroying their support base, with no real effort
to address the causes of radicalism. 244 It has also engaged in
collective punishment against civilians to terrorize the population.
The Southern Federal District is one of the most militarized in the
world, with an estimated 250,000 troops and various other security
forces present.245 During 2013, the Duma prepared a bill to allow the
government to confiscate the property of relatives of individuals
accused of terrorism, and to broaden the classification of terrorist
organizations. This form of collective punishment will have the
unintended consequence of highlighting Russia as an occupying

power. It will intensify the intimidation of civilians and accelerate
the spiral of violence.
Terrorism has proved useful for Putins international diplomatic
offensive, as he has tried to transform his image from a KGB agent
into a global champion of anti-terrorism. On January 22, 2001,
Putin signed a decree placing the FSB in charge of anti-terrorist
operations. All power structures operating in the North Caucasus,
including the army, were subordinated to the new HQ. 246 To
coordinate anti-insurgency activity, in February 2006 the National
Anti-Terrorist Committee was created by presidential decree under
the head of the FSB, Nikolai Petrushev. This structure secured for
the FSB more extensive levers of control over other agencies and
substantial state funding.247 Nevertheless, the security services are
not trained or equipped to deal with individual and small-unit
terrorist threats in urban areas.
Both Belgrade and Moscow have participated in anti-separatist wars
and there are similarities in their operations, particularly in the
deployment of irregular militias. The Russian army introduced the
relatively well-paid contract soldiers (kontraktniki) alongside
military conscripts. It uses these private forces to terrorize civilians,
much like the Serbian nationalist militias and special forces
deployed by Milosevic in the wars in Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina
and Kosova. Russias Special Forces (spetsnaz) and kontraktniki have
played a leading role in sweep operations through targeted
territories, called zachistki. 248 They allow officials plausible
deniability in orchestrating operations outside the law involving
gross human rights abuses. Although these missions are allegedly
designed to check identity documents and locate members of
illegally armed formations, in practice, they have degenerated into
summary executions, torture, arson and looting. As in the former
Yugoslavia, some Russian officers became war entrepreneurs for
purposes of personal enrichment.


Growing state support is also evident for Cossack movements in the

region. Russia contains eleven federally registered Cossack
organizations officially recognized as volunteer civil servants.249 In
the fall of 2012, Putin, who is reportedly an honorary Cossack
Colonel, approved a strategy for the development of Cossack
formations until 2020. The aim is to ensure closer collaboration
between the government and Cossack units who will become a
national guard or militia. Some analysts estimate that Cossacks
comprise about 40% of the military officer corps. Their renaissance
has coincided with a rise in Russian ultra-nationalism.
The Russian army is more prone to committing war crimes than
Western armies because it has a tradition in which every war is a
total war conducted without limits (bespredel).250 This involves
torture and gratuitous acts of violence, which remain unpunished.
These indiscriminate special operations, often conducted in urban
neighborhoods against suspected insurgents, have led to a surge in
local resentment against Moscows rule. Indeed, there is a strong
correlation between the escalation of Russian abuses against
civilians and the trend toward terrorism, including suicide
bombings as acts of revenge.251
Brutal pacifications have simply increased the number of rebel
recruits. For example, a month-long counter-terrorism operation in
the Dagestani village of Gimry in AprilMay 2013, demonstrated
that government relations with the public are in disarray.252 Security
forces inflict collective punishment to try and root out local rebels
but without significant popular support. The federal and republican
governments may also encourage irregular armed groups to conduct
operations while denying any involvement. There are reports of
private militias in Dagestan engaged in the religious cleansing of
Salafis and families of suspected rebels. 253 Such developments
indicate growing ungovernability, as militia deployments will simply

sharpen local grievances. A lack of public trust in government
institutions and law enforcement will also embolden demands for
secession and independence.

Emerging Entities
The post-Yugoslav republics can be divided into two distinct
categories. First, are the successful states of Slovenia and Croatia,
which have consolidated their statehood and democratic systems
and entered both NATO and the EU, with Montenegro and most
probably Serbia poised to follow them over the coming decade.
Second, are the contested states of Bosnia-Herzegovina, Kosova, and
Macedonia, whose democratic reforms have been threatened by
ethnic disputes, while their membership in NATO and the EU
remains blocked by domestic politics and external vetos. In
addition, there are disputed sub-state regions that seek greater
autonomy if not outright independence, including the Serb Republic
in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Vojvodina in Serbia, and the Albanian
majority areas of western Macedonia and southern Serbia.
The aspiring countries that emerge in the North Caucasus from a
fracturing Russian Federation will be categorized as contested states.
They are unlikely to be admitted into international institutions or
gain significant recognition as independent entities. They would
remain as frozen states, acknowledged by a handful of countries
but ignored by the majority. They may also be encumbered with
unresolved internal ethnic and territorial conflicts or persistent
external disputes with neighbors.
The international legality of aspiring new states will also be
questioned, as multi-national bodies have not resolved the
contradictory principles of self-determination and territorial
integrity. The UN General Assembly Resolution 1514 of December
1960 states that all people subject to colonial rule have the right to


determine their political status. However, Russias veto in the UN
Security Council will prevent any quasi-sovereign ex-colonies from
obtaining UN membership. Nonetheless, the independence of any
North Caucasus state may mirror the Kosova case, where political,
demographic, humanitarian and moral factors in support of
independence supplanted international legal principles regarding
state integrity.254
It appears unlikely that the current insurgent movements will be
capable of ousting the incumbent republican governments. More
credible scenarios could witness: escalating ungovernability,
growing confrontations between Sufis and Salafis, the emergence of
secessionist enclaves, moves toward sovereignty by governments
fearful of losing their grip on power or confident enough to declare
statehood, or separation by default as the North Caucasus drifts
away from Moscows political control. Russia itself could face an
implosion because of an accumulation of internal crises. 255 A
prolonged economic downturn and drastic cuts in federal financing
may exacerbate rifts between Moscow and the North Caucasus
governments. This will weaken republican leaders, inflame internal
political rivalries, encourage local insurgencies, and ignite conflicts
between some ethnic groups and republics over unresolved
territorial disputes. 256 Any indication of political instability in
Moscow will undermine the authority of republican leaders
appointed by the Kremlin. Efforts to amalgamate certain federal
regions and disband ethnic republics in the North Caucasus, while
lacing them into a macro-republic in Russias south, could also
trigger conflicts with local leaders. 257 Moscows ineptitude in
resolving mounting economic problems will accelerate support for
independent statehood.258
Separatist aspirations are reportedly spreading among young people
across the region. Surveys and statements on Internet forums
indicate that educated individuals are becoming more supportive of

secession from Russia.259 Young people are losing trust in elders and
politicians and calculate that the chances for coexistence within
Russia for North Caucasians are almost zero. Support for separatism
is aggravated by rising Russian ethno-nationalism directed primarily
against people from the Caucasus. Anti-immigrant xenophobia is
spreading among the ethnic Russian population, especially in
Moscow and other major cities. Much of the public is convinced
that Caucasians and Central Asians are flooding into urban areas,
undermining law and order, and depriving ethnic Russians of jobs
and services. This has already led to several pogroms and intensified
ethnic tensions throughout the country.
Growing turmoil in Russia and an uncertain final status for the
North Caucasus will breed strife. As with the former Yugoslavia, two
kinds of conflicts could escalate in various parts of the North
Caucasus during advances toward republican independence. First,
an aspiring state may experience autonomist, secessionist, and even
pro-federalist claims by one or more of its component ethnic groups
asserting their right to self-determination. Second, an emerging
state may confront territorial feuds with neighboring republics,
whether based on historical precedents or assertions for defending
ethnic kindred. In some cases, the region could witness contesting
claims by two or more republics.
The emergence of a sizeable consensus on independent statehood
may be less problematic in the two ethnically homogenous republics
of Chechnya and Ingushetia. However, this could also unleash fresh
conflicts in Chechnya between nationalists and Islamists. Ingushetia
may also face territorial struggles with both North OssetiaAlania
and Chechnya over several disputed districts if the republic slips out
of Moscows political orbit. North Ossetia, with a predominantly
pro-Russian population, would likely decide to remain in the
Russian Federation and seek a merger with Georgias secessionist
region of South Ossetia, thus provoking conflicts with several


neighbors, including Georgia.
Any attempts at separation by Circassians in Adygea would be
outflanked by the Slavic majority, while the potential secession of
the ethnically complex republic of Dagestan and the tri-ethnic
republics of Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia (if the
sizeable ethnic Russian and Cossack components are included)
could mirror the experience of Bosnia-Herzegovina in the 1990s. A
unified movement favoring independence is unlikely because of
competition and distrust.260 Some ethnic groups, whether Russians,
Cossacks or an indigenous ethnicity, may seek to remain within the
Russian Federation, fearing an inferior minority status in an
independent state. They could call upon Moscow for political and
military assistance against secessionist ethnicities. This could result
in a declaration of separation from the emerging state and merger
with a neighboring republic or federal region, or the announcement
of a separate republic petitioning to remain within the Russian
In an optimal scenario, an independent Dagestan could establish a
mini federation based on its prior model of inter-ethnic balancing
between the four major ethnicities (Avars, Dargins, Kumyks and
Lezgins) that constitute 70% of the population. Alternatively, a
power-sharing arrangement may be forged between key interest
groups that can transcend ethnic distinctions. In an alternative
conflictive scenario, disputes over political representation, territorial
control and access to resources could fracture the nascent Dagestani
Similarly to several republics in ex-Yugoslavia, even if the majority
ethnicity or a multi-ethnic majority of the population agrees on
establishing an independent state, moves toward secession could
heighten ethnic tensions. Disputes could escalate over the internal
structure of the new state, the delineation of internal ethno-national

territories, and over political representation in the new
administration. The ethnic patchworks present in some republics
could encourage militants to press for population exchanges or
expulsions in order to create ethnically pure territories.
Alternatively, nationalists may favor mergers with territories
inhabited by co-ethnics in neighboring republics to establish larger
and more homogenous states. This could also involve claims to
nearby districts in Stavropol krai and Krasnodar krai containing
growing Muslim populations. Instability will be compounded by the
weakness of new state institutions, including security and law
enforcement mechanisms.
Even if Moscow cannot control the North Caucasus, many of the
regions ethnic and religious cleavages may be exacerbated and
exploited by Moscow to prevent secession or to weaken any aspiring
states. The authorities can stir inter-ethnic disputes and provoke
inter-religious conflicts, especially between Sufis and Salafis, to shift
attention away from disquiet with Moscow-appointed republican
governments. Similarly, Belgrade countered moves toward
republican independence by promoting the territorial fractures of
Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina. It provided direct support to local
militias and separatist governments within these republics who
called for Yugoslav federal military intervention. The Kremlin may
back pro-Russian autonomous units or separatists within the
emerging states, following the model it has applied since the 1990s
in Moldova (Transnistria), Georgia (Abkhazia, South Ossetia) and
Azerbaijan (Nagorno-Karabakh) in order to maintain points of
pressure against the new countries.
Efforts to establish territorially stable nation-states in the North
Caucasus could be assisted by international mediation, but Moscow
will remain adamantly opposed. The Kremlin prefers regional
instability to smooth secession in order to disqualify any emerging
countries from gaining international recognition. The process of


state formation may lead to a number of conflicts over disputed
territories and cross-border ethnicities. In a strategy of self-defense
against Moscow, attempts may be initiated to form a pan-Caucasus
confederation, based on the short-lived Independent Democratic
Republic of the Mountaineers of the Northern Caucasus (1918
1919). 261 Such initiatives would be geared toward developing a
multi-ethnic and pan-Islamic identity by appealing to common
traditions of resistance to outside dominance.262
The Caucasus Emirate could gain influence as a more legitimate
pan-Caucasus state-forming movement, especially if it discards its
Salafist ideology. However, the result of the ensuing contest between
ethnic and religious identities cannot be predicted. New
governments in aspirant states could become radicalized on the
basis of ethno-nationalism or militant Islamism. Alternatively,
relatively moderate and only nominally Islamic governments may be
established. However, they could also become embroiled in conflicts
with armed Salafist enclaves and lodge appeals to neighbors and
international organizations for assistance.
Regardless of the obstacles to secession and the potentially
conflictive consequences of forming new entities in the North
Caucasus, Moscow has established a significant precedent for
separatism and statehood in the former Soviet republics, including
Russia. On August 26, 2008, it recognized the independence of
South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the breakaway regions of Georgia, after
invading both territories in a short war with Tbilisi. In the North
Caucasus, several national groups can insist that the principle of
independence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia should also apply to
them, just as Moscow charged that the independence of the formerly
autonomous region of Kosova in Serbia established a precedent for
Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Such justifications can be used to
legitimize territorial partition not only in the North Caucasus, but

also in other border areas of the Russian Federation that either
Tsarist Russia or the Soviet Union forcibly annexed.

Regional Spillovers
Whereas the Yugoslav fracture during the 1990s had limited
spillover effects among the countrys neighbors, state fracture in the
North Caucasus will have a direct impact on Russias larger federal
structure and on several post-Soviet neighbors. Escalating
ungovernability or sustained attempts at separation from Moscow
could encourage other regions to push for statehood. In particular,
secessionist sentiments would intensify in the Middle Volga
republics of Tatarstan and Bashkortostan and among regions with a
burgeoning identity and resentful of Moscows interference in their
economic and political development, such as Kaliningrad, Siberia
and the Far East.
The South Caucasus will be directly affected by turmoil along its
northern borders. In Georgia and Azerbaijan, officials and analysts
perceive both dangers and opportunities in Russias potential loss of
control over the North Caucasus. In a favorable scenario, this could
dissipate Moscows pressure on Tbilisi and Baku and enable both
countries to pursue an unobstructed Western orientation. In the
worst-case alternative, it could unleash a spiral of instability by
spreading ethnic divisions, Islamist radicalism, and political
chaos.263 Salafist militancy can be transposed to Islamic populations
in Georgia where about 10% of the inhabitants are Muslim,
including the Ajari and Kist groups. 264 This may also provide
inroads for greater Iranian influences in the region, especially
among Shia populations in Azerbaijan experiencing growing
conflict with Salafist movements infiltrating from the North



A number of factors cause concern in Georgia and Azerbaijan. The
widening gap between the North and South Caucasus economies has
consequences for social disaffection, migration flows and the spread
of insurgency.265 It can also boost the illicit cross-border arms and
drug trade. A number of destabilizing scenarios could materialize,
whether through spillovers of armed conflicts, refugee outflows, or
Russian military attempts to use or seize territory in adjacent
Georgia and Azerbaijan. Additionally, Georgias two breakaway
regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, may be drawn into the wider
struggle for statehood. An overstretched Russian military may be
unable to defend these satellite entities or the disputed territory of
Nagorno-Karabakh. This could encourage Georgia to retake its
partitioned regions, raise opportunities for Azerbaijan to increase
pressure on Armenia to return its occupied territories, or even spark
a renewed war between the two states.
In reaction to its own imminent loss of territory in the North
Caucasus, Moscow may deliberately undermine the integrity of its
neighbors. The pretext could be to prevent Georgia and Azerbaijan
from assisting separatists inside Russia and to dissuade any Western
intervention in the region. Conversely, some of the fracturing
federal units may gravitate toward Georgia and Azerbaijan and seek
their support against Moscow. Both countries currently have only
limited influence in the North Caucasus and would need to weigh
the costs and benefits of closer involvement in conflicts that could
spill over their borders.266
The Kremlin can capitalize on various pretexts for military
intervention in the South Caucasus. During the August 2008 war
with Georgia, Putin asserted that Georgian forces had committed
genocide in South Ossetia. 267 This disinformation was used as
justification for military action cast as humanitarian intervention,
similar to NATOs engagement in Kosova in March 1999. In
recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,

Russian authorities adopted the argument that Georgia had forfeited
the right to govern these areas, much like the West dismissed
continuing Serbian rule in Kosova because of Belgrades war crimes
against Albanian inhabitants. Georgia could again be labeled by
Moscow as a terrorist enclave, accused of supporting international
jihadism and endangering Russian national security, thus giving the
Kremlin the alleged right to stage military operations on Georgian
The attainment of independence by Georgia, Azerbaijan and
Armenia, exerts an attraction for those in the North Caucasus
seeking greater sovereignty. 268 In preventing growing Georgian
influence in the North Caucasus and assisting Armenia in its
confrontation with Azerbaijan, the Kremlin may decide to further
dismember Georgia and create direct territorial corridors for
Russian forces to traverse to their military base in Gyumri, Armenia.
Alternatively, Moscow could attempt to destabilize Georgia by
staging terrorist incidents or provoking border clashes with
Georgian forces.
The Lezgins, whose homeland is divided between Dagestan and
Azerbaijan, might clamor for unification in a single state. Dagestani
Lezgins reportedly have significant influence on their ethnic kindred
in Azerbaijan and they were instrumental in establishing the
clandestine armed Sunni Islamic jamaat, which conducted
operations in Azerbaijan.269 In the northwest Caucasus, Circassian
moves toward secession from Russia will also impact on Abkhazia
and could intensify the latters resistance to Moscows control.
Georgia may also exploit the opportunity of Russias fracture to try
and recapture Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The Russian government opposes Georgias influence in the North
Caucasus, and one of its objectives during the August 2008 war was
to diminish Tbilisis attraction as a political and economic model


and preclude its membership in NATO. Under the Mikhail
Saakashvili presidency, Georgia established a visa-free regime with
citizens of neighboring North Caucasus republics and created a
television station to broadcast to the region. These and other
initiatives were condemned by Moscow as interference in Russias
internal affairs. Political developments in Tbilisi since the election of
the Georgian Dream coalition in October 2012 have left the North
Caucasus populations uncertain about the stance of the foreign
capital that had been their chief ally. However, any lessened
engagement by Tbilisi with its immediate northern neighbors may
not help Moscow. Instead, it could radicalize some in the region
who may look for support among Muslim states.
By pursuing friendly ties with the North Caucasus nations, the
Georgian government seeks to prevent their participation in armed
actions on its territory. Political, economic, cultural, and social links
between Georgia and the North Caucasus date back many centuries
before the Russian conquest of the region in the 1800s. Moscow has
consistently tried to sow discords in such relations, including
sponsoring Abkhaz and South Ossetian separatist movements since
the early 1990s and recruiting North Caucasus mercenaries to fight
against Georgia.
In the early 1990s, Circassian leaders believed that Abkhazia would
become their gateway to the outside world. Abkhaz and Circassians
are related ethno-linguistically and several hundred Circassians
fought on the Abkhaz side in the Georgian-Abkhaz war of 1992
1993. Pan-Circassian activists in the North Caucasus are embittered
that Abkhazia became a Russian proxy and its government
disregarded Circassian solidarity. 270 Meanwhile, Georgias image
among Circassians underwent a dramatic improvement in May
2011, when its parliament became the first to officially recognize the
Circassian genocide.271 Despite domestic political changes, Georgias
policies toward Circassians have remained consistent. The Tbilisi105

based Circassian Cultural Center, created at the initiative of
President Saakashvili in 2011, continues to operate. Caucasian
House, established in 1999 to conduct educational and cultural
projects, still functions, indicating that Georgias leaders see longterm value in closer relations with its northern neighbors.
In the event that Georgia moves closer to NATO, aspirations for
independence could accelerate in the North Caucasus, while the
Islamist element in the regional insurgency may diminish. 272
Georgia itself will become a more influential factor in the region if it
joins NATO and obtains firm security guarantees from its new
allies, as Moscow would be hesitant in provoking a direct
confrontation with the North Atlantic Alliance. However, Russias
impending territorial fracture will not necessarily be confined to the
Russian Federation. Much like Serbia during the 19911995
Yugoslav wars, Moscow may seek to incorporate the territories of
neighboring states containing sizeable Russian or pro-Moscow
populations in order to compensate for the loss of the North
Caucasus. Attempts to create a Greater Russia could embroil
Ukraine, Belarus, Moldova and Kazakhstan in domestic inter-ethnic
struggles, as well as in direct confrontations with Moscow. This
would present serious challenges for both NATO and the EU,
particularly for member states bordering the emerging conflict
In contrast with the Russian Federation, throughout the Yugoslav
wars in the 1990s none of the emerging states harbored any
territorial aspirations or claims to ethnic kindred outside the
borders of the Yugoslav federation. In addition, the countries
neighboring ex-Yugoslavia successfully avoided becoming
embroiled in the conflict, although several backed the U.S.-led
NATO military interventions and peacemaking missions in BosniaHerzegovina, Croatia and Kosova. Opportunities for regional
spillovers remain restricted, especially as most border questions


have been resolved and each Western Balkan state aims to qualify
for EU entry and thus needs to uphold cooperative relations with all

International Intervention
The early years of the Yugoslav wars during the 1990s were marked
by international indecision regarding intervention. Diplomatic
engagement by the EU and the U.S. proved insufficient to stem the
expanding violence, even after the expiration of the Yugoslav
federation was acknowledged and the independence of several new
states recognized. NATO only became engaged in an effective way
in the war zones when Washington decided to intervene militarily.
The U.S. administration feared that the credibility of the Alliance
was under increasing scrutiny given the mass slaughter of civilians
in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosova. NATO was eventually
successful in terminating the wars and enabling state formation.
Subsequently, the EU decided at its Thessaloniki Summit on June
21, 2003, that all the Western Balkan states would be integrated into
the Union once they met the criteria for accession.273 They were
formally placed on the membership path through Stabilization and
Association Agreements (SAA), thus contributing to democratic
consolidation and regional stability.
During the First and Second Russo-Chechen Wars, Western powers
were largely silent on Moscows mass abuses of human rights.274 In
effect, Washington sacrificed Chechnya because of its support for
the reformist Yeltsin administration. Unlike the Western Balkans
after the demise of Yugoslavia, the North Caucasus has not been a
consistent focus of international attention. Few Western journalists
are present in the zone, Western governments and international
bodies do not have representatives in the region, and the Russian
authorities jealously guard against any Western encroachment.

Moscow occasionally warns against international interference in the
region. Putins diatribe during a Russian Security Council session on
September 9, 2013, demanded a vigorous response against alleged
attempts by some states and international organizations to
undermine stability in the North Caucasus.275
In order to dissuade any involvement by outside powers, the
Kremlin has compared the North Caucasus with Afghanistan. It
asserts that the region remains primitive, insecure, and
unpredictable, and only a Russian presence can provide a measure
of stability. Russias state propaganda proclaims that the withdrawal
of federal security forces will either result in chaos and civil wars
that spill over to other regions, or the seizure of power by an antiWestern Taliban-like regime.276 Moscow equates its anti-civilian and
anti-separatist operations in the North Caucasus with U.S.
campaigns against the Taliban and al-Qaeda, and claims that Russia
and the U.S. share a common enemy of international terrorism.277
Such assertions are designed to achieve several objectives: to define
all insurrections inside Russia as terrorism; to conflate all separatist
movements with Islamist radicals; to conceal the repressive policies
of the federal government and its regional proxies; to dismiss the
significance of local grievances against Moscow; and to disregard
aspirations for independence among the North Caucasus nations.
The likelihood of military intervention by outside powers or multinational alliances in the North Caucasus remains remote. Escalating
conflicts anywhere in the Russian Federation are also unlikely to
embroil the U.S. and European countries in diplomatic mediation or
peacekeeping. Such initiatives would be seen as challenging Russias
territorial integrity and could precipitate a direct confrontation with
Moscow. It would be difficult to repeat the scenario of Western
diplomatic and military intervention in ex-Yugoslavia, particularly
as Russia would vehemently oppose any direct Western engagement.


Nonetheless, several potential developments in the North Caucasus
could precipitate more visible Western involvement, especially if
spiraling violence threatens to destabilize neighboring countries. A
spillover of armed clashes into the South Caucasus, together with
the danger of ethnic irredentism or Islamist radicalization in
Azerbaijan and Georgia, could impact more directly on Western
interests. In one negative scenario, an aspiring North Caucasus
Caliphate could become a base for international jihadists or acquire
materials or weapons of mass destruction, which currently
proliferate in Russia.278 In such an eventuality, an appeal by the
Georgian or Azerbaijani governments for direct military assistance
would prove difficult to disregard even if it placed Washington on a
potential collision course with Moscow.


The North Caucasus, Eurasias powder keg, is undergoing
intensified political instability, religious radicalization, ethnic
disputes and insurgent violence that will impact on a much broader
region. Conditions in the North Caucasus increasingly resemble exYugoslavia on the eve of its disintegration in the 1990s, and some
elements are even more flammable. The federal structure is
undergoing escalating challenges to its stability and legitimacy, and
the central government is imposing its authority primarily through
coercion, subsidization and the imposition of republican leaders.
The prospect for more extensive violence, territorial fracture, and
the emergence of aspiring states is growing.
The two conflict zones also have some notable contrasts. Islamist
religious radicalism plays a more prominent role in the North
Caucasus than it has in the Western Balkans and it infuses the
spreading insurgency. Meanwhile, centrally appointed republican
leaders uphold their loyalty to Moscow, principally because they
depend on the Kremlin for economic resources and political office.
If the survival of these governments is seriously imperiled and
federal subsidies significantly decline, republican leaders may turn
to ethno-nationalism and territorial separatism to gain local
legitimacy, as was the case in ex-Yugoslavia.
This concluding chapter specifies the core similarities and contrasts
between the North Caucasus and the Western Balkan conflict zones.

It also offers policy recommendations for Washington in
confronting North Caucasus spillovers and an increasingly unstable
Russia. The potential partition of the Russian Federation would
reverberate throughout wider Europe by challenging the security of
several neighboring states and threatening a range of Western
political, economic and energy interests.

North Caucasus and Western Balkans Compared

Federal Similarities

Although the first (royal) and second (communist) Yugoslav

states were established by agreements between Serbian, Croatian
and Slovenian leaders, the political systems in both countries
forfeited their initial legitimacy among several national groups.
Russian Tsarist and Soviet empires conquered the North
Caucasus nations, Muscovite rule was forcibly imposed on the
subject peoples, and local elites were co-opted to ensure central
control. As a result, Russian rule has benefited from limited
public legitimacy.

In both ex-Yugoslavia and the contemporary North Caucasus,

an absence of political reform and economic liberalization
delegitimizes the federal state and fails to integrate local
populations. In the former Yugoslavia, such conditions
stimulated the rise of alternative political elites at the republican
level as the ruling League of Communists disintegrated.
However, in the two autonomous regions of the Serbian
Republic (Kosova and Vojvodina), as well as in the republic of
Montenegro, Belgrade imposed its own leadership and
provoked resistance by the majority nations in Kosova and
Montenegro. In the North Caucasus, the federal center has
emplaced and bribed local leaders to implement Moscows



policies, but these republican authorities are becoming
increasingly estranged from the indigenous populations.

Enhanced central control, stagnant economies, and diminished

local political autonomy exacerbate conflict between federal
authorities, republican leaders, and local societies, radicalize the
political opposition, and raise calls for national selfdetermination.

Federal Contrasts

The fragility of the Russian Federation has deeper historical

roots than those of ex-Yugoslavia, while the Russian nationstate has a shallower heritage than that of Serbiathe dominant
player during the collapse of Yugoslavia. The Russian state
became an empire before the Russian people became a nation.
Russians continue to grapple not only with their own identity,
but also with the structure and parameters of their state and
relations with non-Russian nations.

Serbia was one of six republics and two autonomous regions in

Socialist Yugoslavia whose leaders attempted to centralize and
preserve the federation by enhancing Serbias position. The
North Caucasus consists of nominally autonomous republics
named after one or more ethnic groups, while ethnic Russians
do not possess distinct titular republics in the mono-ethnically
defined Russian Federation.

Unlike in ex-Yugoslavia, Moscow has thus far dampened moves

toward state independence among republican leaders in the
North Caucasus, by providing substantial financial resources to
maintain their loyalty and deploying federal security services to
suppress armed opposition.


There is no democratic competition in the North Caucasus as

the Kremlin and its proxy organizations monopolize political
life. This situation differs from Yugoslavia on the eve of its
disintegration. A spectrum of political parties mushroomed in
each republic before the first democratic elections in 1990 and
republican leaders espousing national independence gained
power through most of these ballots.

Ethno-National Similarities

Similarly to Yugoslavism in the Western Balkans, an all-Russian

state identity (Rossianie) is weak and fading as conflicts escalate
throughout the North Caucasus. An integral component of
North Caucasus identity and solidarity consists of opposition to
Moscows rule, which draws on traditions of resistance to
Russian colonization.

The Communist Party regimes in Yugoslavia and the USSR

fostered ethnic and religious divisions by establishing republics
and autonomous regions based on ethno-national principles,
but with limited sovereignty within the centralized system of
communist government. The Russian Federation maintains a
comparable system of central controls over a nominally federal
structure, styled as the power vertical.

Both conflict zones are ethnically complex regions, in which

national, administrative, and state boundaries do not coincide.
Such conditions can prove volatile where statehood has been
denied for sizeable ethnic groups or where there is competition
within and between republics for land, resources and political

In both conflict zones, the political aspirations of several ethnic

groups have been frustrated by the federal structures and in



some cases by the republican governments. A nationalist revival
among the majority nation threatens the position of other
nationalities and ethnic minorities. The manipulation of Serbian
nationalism in the former Yugoslavia mobilized competing
nationalisms in Slovenia and Croatia. Rising Russian
nationalism and attempts to create a Russian nation-state will
set the stage for more intensive inter-ethnic conflicts
throughout the federation.

Where the political programs of republican leaders increasingly

focus on ethnic identity, a spiral of competitive nationalisms can
shatter the federal structure. The Kremlin may manipulate
inter-ethnic disputes and imitate Milosevics Serbia by pushing
for border changes among the republics or territorial mergers
with neighboring Russian majority regions, on the pretext of
defending Russian ethnics or other groups that demonstrate
loyalty toward Moscow.

In the North Caucasus, the prospective rupture of one republic

from the Federation can spark demands for the separation of
other republics, while the secession of contested regions within
one republic may be emulated in other republics. Such a
scenario materialized in ex-Yugoslavia during the 1990s.

Ethno-National Contrasts

In Socialist Yugoslavia, the centralized communist system was

gradually loosened, and under the 1974 federal constitution the
six republics gained a measure of genuine autonomy. In the
Russian Federation, Putins government has imposed greater
central control over the federal structure and constricted the
autonomy of several republics attained during the collapse of
the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.


Ethnic cleansing operations were conducted in North

OssetiaAlania against resident Ingush after the demise of the
USSR, but not on the scale of the mass murders and forcible
evictions of Bosnian Muslims and Kosova Albanians during the
Yugoslav wars in the 1990s. Although the North Caucasus has
not reached such a stage of inter-ethnic conflict, the ingredients
for growing confrontation exist in the region given the longstanding rivalries over territories and resources, as well as the
potential manipulation of ethnic disputes by Moscow.

Religious Similarities

Although the North Caucasus has a predominantly Muslim

population, Islam is not homogenous and only transcends
ethnic distinctiveness during armed struggles with outside
powers such as Russia. In the multi-confessional post-Yugoslav
states, religious identity is usually closely tied with ethnonational identity but plays a subsidiary political role. Ethnonationalism and aspirations toward independent statehood were
the two key drivers during the Yugoslav wars, with religion
simply reinforcing exclusivist nationalisms.

Radical Salafist and mujahideen volunteers had limited

influence during the Yugoslav wars and on the initial Chechen
resistance movement. Their position was enhanced in the North
Caucasus after the First Russo-Chechen War (19941996) when
the notion of establishing an Islamic state gained greater local
support. However, the impact of foreign mujahideen in the
North Caucasus has dissipated during the past decade.

Competition over Muslim religious authority in both the North

Caucasus and the Western Balkans is not simply between
moderates and radicals, but involves different forms of Islam,
including traditional and reformist variants. The religious



revival is often a contradictory process, involving modern
adaptations of Islam together with utopian and ultraconservative streams of Salafism.

Despite the moderate religious stance of Islamic authorities,

alienated minorities in both conflict zones may become
susceptible to ultra-conservative and militant anti-Western
influences. Such developments are more likely in the North
Caucasus because of the high levels of public antipathy toward
the state, stagnant economic conditions, an absence of political
alternatives, and minimal prospects for republican membership
in international institutions.

Religious Contrasts

The Milosevic government in Belgrade falsely accused national

leaders in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosova of seeking to
transform these entities into Islamist states. In the North
Caucasus, leaders of the Caucasus Emirate openly proclaim
their objective as the creation of a regional Islamic Caliphate.

Cross-ethnic religious affiliation among Muslims was not a

factor in the wars of national liberation from Yugoslavia or in
key developments since the war. Radical Islamists in the North
Caucasus have tried to forge a broad multi-ethnic pan-Islamic
opposition to the republican and federal governments.

Religious leaders in the former Yugoslavia largely supported the

independence of republics based primarily on ethno-national
principles. At present, the official Muslim clergy in the North
Caucasus does not overtly endorse republican independence or
separation from the Russian Federation. However, these clerics
are in competition with more militant Islamist voices who favor
outright secession and with some moderate imams who support

ethno-national autonomy.

Political pluralism and minority rights in the developing

democracies of the Western Balkans weaken religious
extremism. In the North Caucasus, the repressive policies of the
Russian federal and republican governments and the absence of
democratic and secular political alternatives fuel the growth of
Islamist radicalism.

Contested States: Similarities

Kremlin depictions of the North Caucasus insurgency mirror

that of Serbias Milosevic regime toward separatist Muslim
majority populations during the 1990s. Moscow defines all
separatists as terrorists and portrays the current war as part of a
universal struggle against radical Islamism, thus presenting the
Russian government as the bastion of liberty.

During the 1990s, both Belgrade and Moscow conducted similar

anti-separatist wars, particularly in the deployment of irregular
militias to conduct mass slaughters and expulsions and deny any
official role in orchestrating extensive human rights abuses.

As evident in several republics of ex-Yugoslavia, even if the

majority ethnicity or a multi-ethnic majority in the North
Caucasus agrees on establishing an independent republic,
disputes could escalate over the internal structure of emerging
states and political representation in new administrations. The
ethnic patchworks present in some republics could encourage
militants to press for population exchanges or forced evictions
in order to create ethnically pure territories, or support
mergers with areas inhabited by co-ethnics in neighboring
republics to establish larger and more ethnically homogenous



Putins Moscow, much like Milosevics Belgrade, can exploit

inter-ethnic disputes to prevent secession and encourage federal
military intervention. The Serbian government supported the
leaders of Serbian autonomous regions carved out of Croatia
and Bosnia-Herzegovina. The Kremlin may back pro-Russian
autonomous units or separatists within the aspiring North
Caucasus states, as it has in Moldova, Georgia, and Azerbaijan
since the early 1990s to maintain points of pressure vis-a-vis the
incumbent governments.

Contested States: Contrasts

Seven new states emerged from the Yugoslav federation and

gained international recognition and membership in several
multi-national institutions. It is highly improbable that the
North Caucasus republics can emulate this process of
international acceptance and integration within international

Aspiring countries that emerge in the North Caucasus would fall

into the category of contested states and may remain
internationally frozen, with unresolved internal ethnic and
territorial conflicts or persistent external disputes with

International Involvement: Similarities

The authorities in both ex-Yugoslavia and contemporary Russia

have claimed that international adversaries, especially Western
powers, fuelled insurgency and separatism to destroy the
country. Similarly to Milosevics pronouncements about antiSerbian conspiracies, Putin has asserted that secession in the
North Caucasus is sponsored by foreign capitals pursuing an

anti-Russian agenda.279

International Involvement: Contrasts

Milosevics Belgrade opposed Western military intervention in

the former Yugoslavia, but grudgingly agreed to diplomatic and
humanitarian initiatives to disguise and freeze Serbian
territorial acquisitions in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Croatia.
Moscow staunchly opposes any Western diplomatic, political or
military involvement in the North Caucasus, even if such
engagement were to promote stability in the region. The
Kremlin would charge the U.S. with seeking to dismember
Russia and may provoke conflicts with Washington in other
regions. Direct U.S. engagement in the North Caucasus could
also consolidate public support for President Putin among
Russian ethnics and buttress a more nationalist agenda.

If the North Caucasus undergoes more extensive instability and

the Russian Federation begins to splinter, there will be spillover
effects into the South Caucasus, whether through refugee
outflows, armed conflicts, or Russian military attempts to use or
seize territory in adjacent Georgia and Azerbaijan. The potential
for regional conflicts in the Western Balkans remains limited,
particularly as each state wants to qualify for EU membership
and needs to uphold cooperative relations with neighbors.

Russia may exploit the opportunity of its own imminent loss of

territory in the North Caucasus to purposively undermine the
integrity of several neighbors, including Georgia, Azerbaijan,
Ukraine and Moldova. Unlike Serbia in its relations with nonYugoslav neighbors, Russia possesses ethno-national links and
harbors territorial claims toward a number of post-Soviet



The Yugoslav wars were initially marked by international

indecision regarding intervention. NATO became engaged in
the war zones when Washington decided on direct involvement.
NATO was successful in stemming further bloodshed and
separating the protagonists in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Kosova.
Escalating war within the Russian Federation is unlikely to
result in international efforts at diplomatic mediation,
peacekeeping or combat operations. There is no indication that
NATO or any other organization would be prepared to
intervene militarily in the event of a major North Caucasus
conflagration, primarily because of vigorous Russian resistance.

In the Western Balkans, the prospect of accession into the EU

and NATO has contributed to keeping democratic reforms on
track and toned down inter-ethnic rivalries. Without such
reforms, much of the progress achieved since the end of the
Yugoslav wars could stall or even unravel. Aspiring states in the
North Caucasus currently have no multi-national organizational
destination that could positively influence their internal
evolution and international relations.

North Caucasus Policy Recommendations

By investigating the similarities and contrasts between the North
Caucasus and Western Balkan conflict zones, U.S. policymakers will
be in a better position to assess the impact of conflict escalation on
security in the broader Caucasus, Black Sea and Caspian Basin
regions. A largely passive approach by Western governments toward
the North Caucasus that allows Moscow a free hand in its repressive
policies, has clearly failed to stem radicalism, insurgency and
terrorism. A more engaged and assertive Western strategy is likely
to bring several dividends. The following concise policy
prescriptions are offered to promote a more informed debate on

U.S. strategy toward the broader Caucasus region.
1. Determine a range of conflict scenarios and establish
contingency plans for the likely expansion of instability in the
North Caucasus, Russias potential implosion, and any
spillovers into the South Caucasus and other nearby regions.
Such planning and preparation should be conducted with
significant inputs from the governments of Georgia and
Azerbaijan, which would be directly affected by spreading
2. Obtain a comprehensive and detailed assessment of the policies
of Russias federal authorities, the security forces, republican
governments, nationalist activists, and insurgent leaders in the
North Caucasus, including their ambitions, strategies, tactics,
capabilities, successes and shortcomings.
3. Investigate the sources of terrorism inside Russia when
considering intensifying bilateral cooperation in combating
terrorism. Washington and Moscow follow two contrasting
counter-terrorism strategies. Moscow engages in counterproductive anti-civilian operations, which exacerbate social
alienation, accelerate religious radicalism, and aggravate armed
insurgency. In addition, Russias federal and local security
services are widely believed to be complicit in some terrorist
activities, either because of incompetence, bribery or deliberate
4. Campaign internationally to open up the North Caucasus to
Western journalists, political analysts, human rights activists,
special rapporteurs from international organizations, UN
goodwill ambassadors, humanitarian groups and government
officials from various states. Since the Yeltsin years, the Russian
government has squeezed out any international presence,


including the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe (OSCE) and the Council of Europe (CoE). Washington
should press Russia to allow for the return of these two
organizations and activate an OSCE fact-finding mechanism
for the North Caucasus.
5. Persist in raising the unresolved North Caucasus question with
officials in Moscow. This volatile region impacts on the security
of a much broader zone that includes strategic U.S. partners
such as Georgia, Azerbaijan and Ukraine, as well as the
evolving Caspian-Mediterranean energy corridor.
6. Calculate the changing roles, ambitions, strategies and
capabilities of the regions two other major powers, Turkey and
Iran, and how each would respond to the implosion of the
North Caucasus and the spillover effects on the South
7. Encourage Georgia and Azerbaijan to engage the North
Caucasus republics through social, cultural, educational,
informational and media programs that would expose the
region to positive outside influences and undercut spreading
religious radicalism and ethnic polarization.
8. Ascertain the diplomatic, economic and security assistance that
Georgia and Azerbaijan require to shield themselves from
instabilities emanating from the North Caucasus. To help
stabilize the South Caucasus, the mid-term objective would be
to transform the North Caucasus into a buffer zone that does
not challenge the security of neighboring states. In an ideal
long-term scenario, it would become a secular and neutral
region in which emerging states harbor no expansionist
designs. However, Washington must prepare for scenarios that
are less beneficial and cannot discount emergency planning for

an international humanitarian or peacekeeping mission.
9. Compile a range of contingency options to help protect the
South Caucasus countries from further instability. This can
include emplacing an international border monitoring force
along the most sensitive areas of the North Caucasus frontier.280
Contingencies should also entail securing the oil and gas
pipeline routes traversing the Caucasus from Azerbaijan to
10. Provide a clear Western perspective for Georgia and Azerbaijan
that will help stabilize their regional positions and encourage
trade, investment, transportation, and energy linkages with
Europe. A more visible U.S. footprint would also enhance the
security of both countries by making them less vulnerable to
Russias pressures or to North Caucasus instabilities. Such an
approach can include roadmaps toward EU and NATO
membership. With the potential disintegration of Russia,
Washington and Brussels need reliable and stable partners
between the Black and Caspian Seas. Moreover, the
strengthening of Georgia and Azerbaijan as Western-oriented
and economically vibrant countries can serve as a model for
future state construction and institution building in a postRussian North Caucasus. Thought should also be given to a
collective designation for the new countries that emerge from a
fracturing Russian Federation.



For an appraisal of potential instabilities in the Western Balkans, see

Janusz Bugajski, Return of the Balkans: Challenges to European Integration
and U.S. Disengagement, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S.
Army War College, 2013.

Henry E. Hale and Rein Taagepera, Russia: Consolidation or

Collapse? Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 54, No. 7, 2002, p. 1102. The USSR
disintegrated into Union Republics, the highest level beneath the Soviet
center with the legal right to secede much like the six republics in Socialist
Yugoslavia. No autonomous republics, districts or regions seceded from
the USSR, while in ex-Yugoslavia the autonomous region of Kosova
formally gained independence in February 2008.

Among numerous accounts of the collapse of Socialist Yugoslavia,

consult: Steven L. Burg and Paul S. Shoup, The War in Bosnia-Herzegovina:
Ethnic Conflict and International Intervention, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe,
2000; Lenard J. Cohen, Broken Bonds: The Disintegration of Yugoslavia,
Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1993; Viktor Meier, Yugoslavia: A History of
Its Demise, London & New York: Routledge, 1999; Laura Silber and Allan
Little, Yugoslavia: Death of a Nation, London: Penguin Books, 1997; and
Raju G.C. Thomas and H. Richard Friman (Eds.), The South Slav Conflict:
History, Religion, Ethnicity, and Nationalism, New York & London:
Garland Publishing, 1996.

Paul Goble, The Future of the North Caucasus, in Glen E. Howard

(Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North Caucasus, Washington,
DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, p. 36.

Background histories of the North Caucasus include: Svante E. Cornell,

Small Nations and Great Powers: A Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict in the
Caucasus, Richmond, England: Curzon, 2001; Robert Conquest, The
Nation Killers: The Soviet Deportation of Nationalities, London: Macmillan,
1970; Marie Bennigsen Broxup (Ed.), The North Caucasus Barrier: The

Russian Advance Towards the Muslim World, London: Hurst, 1992;
William E. Odom and Robert Dujarric, Commonwealth or Empire? Russia,
Central Asia and the Transcaucasus, Indianapolis, IN: Hudson Institute,
1997; and John B. Dunlop, Russia Confronts Chechnya: Roots of a Separatist
Conflict, Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1998.

Neil J. Melvin, Building Stability in the North Caucasus: Ways

Forward for Russia and the European Union, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 16,
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, May 2007, p. 4.

Paul Goble, Russian Federation Will Cease to Exist Within 20 Years,

Former GRU Officer Says, Window on Eurasia: New Series, August 14,
2013. An assessment of Russias potential fracture can be found in Ilan
Berman, Implosion: The End of Russia and What It Means for America,
Washington, DC: Regnery Publishing, 2013.

Valery Dzutsev, Russian Army Turns Down Conscripts from the

North Caucasus, The CACI Analyst, October 10, 2013,

Paul Goble, Without an Inspiring Project, Russia Will Disintegrate,

Moscow Scholar Says, Window on Eurasia: New Series, March 14, 2013.


Valerii Tishkov, Contemporary Ethnopolitical Processes,

Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia, Vol. 49, No. 3, Winter 20102011,
pp. 925.


An analysis of Russian federalism can be found in James Hughes,

Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, Philadelphia, PA: University of
Pennsylvania Press, 2007, pp. 3045.


Valerii Tishkov, Contemporary Ethnopolitical Processes,

Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia, Vol. 49, No. 3, Winter 20102011,
pp. 1112. Following the Soviet collapse, all the North Caucasus republics
except Dagestan adopted a presidential form of government with an elected
head of the executive branch. In Dagestan, the Supreme Soviet was

replaced by a Peoples Assembly elected every four years on principles of
proportional representation of the fourteen ethnic groups.



Paul Goble, Window on Eurasia: Federalism Could Return to Russia

with a Vengeance, Scholar Says, Eurasia Review, July 8, 2010,


Olga Tynyanova, Incomplete Centralization, Russia in Global Affairs,

Moscow, No. 3, JulySeptember 2008,


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (III), Governance, Elections, Rule of Law, Brussels, Belgium,
Europe Report No. 226, September 6, 2013, p. 3,
<>. The ICG reports are
premised on the assumption that the North Caucasus should be socially,
politically, culturally and economically integrated within Russia rather
than separate itself from an unstable, authoritarian and neo-imperialistic


Hans Oversloot, The Merger of Federal Subjects of the Russian

Federation During Putins Presidency and After, Review of Central and
East European Law, 34, 2009, pp. 120121. By March 2008, the number of
federal units was whittled down from 89 to 83.

Neil J. Melvin, Building Stability in the North Caucasus: Ways

Forward for Russia and the European Union, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 16,
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, May 2007, pp. 2627.


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (III), Governance, Elections, Rule of Law, Brussels, Belgium,

Europe Report No. 226, September 6, 2013, p. 5,

According to a study by the Higher School of Economics in Moscow.

See Kremlin Funds Regions Based on their Loyalty, RIA Novosti,
Moscow, August 16, 2013.


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (III), Governance, Elections, Rule of Law, Brussels, Belgium,
Europe Report No. 226, September 6, 2013, p. 6,


Anastasiya Bashkatova, Dmitriy Medvedev Takes Control of Caucasus

Money ( ),
Nezavisimaya Gazeta Online, August 22, 2013, <>,
NewsEdge Document Number: 201308221477.1_b553026f1f9bab81.


Jim Nichol, Stability in Russias Chechnya and Other Regions of the

North Caucasus: Recent Developments, Washington, DC: CRS Report for
Congress, Congressional Research Service, December 13, 2010, p. 11.

Mairbek Vatchagaev, Is Kremlin Moving to Replace Ingush Leader?

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol.
10, Issue 64, April 5, 2013.


Henry Meyer, Putin Approves Law Allowing Regions to Abolish

Direct Elections,Bloomberg, April 3, 2013. Dmitry Medvedev, who served
as President from 2008 to 2012, restored the gubernatorial vote after mass
protests over alleged election fraud.


Kanokov assumed power in 2005, following the death of his

predecessor, Valery Kokov. Just weeks after his appointment, Kanokov had
to deal with an uprising of Muslim youth in October 2005 and a spreading
Islamic insurgency. Fifty-seven people are still on trial for their alleged
involvement in the October 2005 uprising. See Mairbek Vatchagaev, Surge
in Militant Activity in Kabardino-Balkaria May Force Ouster of Kanokov,
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol.
10, Issue 112, June 13, 2013.

The Kremlin decision may have been provoked by the KabardinoBalkarian parliaments appeal to the Russian Duma in November 2013 to
adopt legislative amendments allowing for the mass repatriation of Syrian
Circassians to the North Caucasus. See Valery Dzutsev, KabardinoBalkarian Governors Resignation Likely Tied to Sochi Olympics, Eurasia
Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10,
Issue 220, December 9, 2013.

Valery Dzutsev, Kremlin Set to Replace Some North Caucasus

Governors Before the Sochi Olympics, Eurasia Daily Monitor,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 35, February
25, 2013.

For an analysis of Dagestans inter-ethnic balancing, see Robert Bruce

Ware and Enver Kisriev, Dagestan: Russian Hegemony and Islamic
Resistance in the North Caucasus, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010.


Gordon M. Hahn, Russias Islamic Threat, New Haven, CT: Yale

University Press, 2007, p. 113.


Valery Dzutsev, Arrest of Makhachkala Mayor Likely to Increase

Volatility in Dagestan, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 109, June 10, 2013.


Valery Dzutsev, Kremlin Effort to Subdue Clans in Dagestan Likely to

Backfire, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 119, June 24, 2013.



Paul Goble, Tatar Analyst: Putins Amalgamation Plan Ignores World

Practice, the Russian Constitution, and Good Sense, Window on Eurasia:
New Series, March 24, 2013.

Henry E. Hale and Rein Taagepera, Russia: Consolidation or

Collapse? Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 54, No. 7, 2002, p. 1115.


Paul Goble, Non-Russian Republics Very Conscious of Their

Constitutional Status and Upset by Moscows Efforts to Undermine It,
Window on Eurasia: New Series, April 8, 2013.


John Dunlop, Putin, Kozak and Russian Policy Toward the North
Caucasus, in Glen E. Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the
North Caucasus, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, p. 61.
Moscow has also considered plans to create a broader Prichernomorsk
province by incorporating Adygea and Karachay-Cherkessia into
Krasnodar krai.


Paul Goble, Creation of North Caucasus FD Undercut Russian Civic

Identity There, Scholar Says, Window on Eurasia: New Series, May 14,

Paul Goble, Putins Amalgamation Plan Behind Chechnyas Territorial

Claims Against Ingushetia, Ingush Activist Says, Window on Eurasia: New
Series, March 14, 2013.


Russian Big Business to Rebuild North CaucasusEnvoy, RIA

Novosti, December 16, 2012,


For more details on federal subsidies to the North Caucasus, see:

International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of
Integration (III), Governance, Elections, Rule of Law, Brussels, Belgium,
Europe Report No. 226, September 6, 2013, pp. 68,


report&utm_medium=3&utm_campaign=mremail>; and Andrew Foxall,
Russias Canary in the North Caucasus Mine: Stavropolskii krai, in
Robert Bruce Ware (Ed.), The Fire Below: How the Caucasus Shaped Russia,
New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013, pp. 163165.

Russian Big Business to Rebuild North CaucasusEnvoy, RIA

Novosti, December 16, 2012,


Walter Richmond, Preparations for the Sochi Olympics, in Robert

Bruce Ware (Ed.), The Fire Below: How the Caucasus Shaped Russia, New
York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013, pp. 203223.


Paul Goble, Moscow No Longer Views Clans as Stabilizing Force in

North Caucasus, Analyst Says, Window on Eurasia: New Series, June 10,


Anna Matveeva, The Northeastern Caucasus: Drifting Away from

Russia, in Robert Bruce Ware (Ed.), The Fire Below: How the Caucasus
Shaped Russia, New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013, p. 256.


Matveeva notes that the emergence of a North Caucasus identity is a

reaction to the rise of anti-Caucasus attitudes among ethnic Russians,
particularly the younger generation. See Anna Matveeva, The
Northeastern Caucasus: Drifting Away from Russia, in Robert Bruce
Ware (Ed.), The Fire Below: How the Caucasus Shaped Russia, New York,
NY: Bloomsbury, 2013, p. 269.

The Bolshevik creation of ethno-territorial administrative units

exacerbated tensions in mixed multi-ethnic regions such as the North
Caucasus. For an account of one such conflict between Kabardino-Balkaria
and North OssetiaAlania during the 1920s, see Ian T. Lanzillotti, From
Princely Fiefdoms to Soviet Nations: Interethnic Border Conflicts in the
North Caucasus and the Village of Lesken, Central Asian Survey, Vol. 31,
No. 2, June 2012, pp. 209227,


Emil Souleimanov, The Caucasus Emirate: Genealogy of an Islamist

Insurgency, Middle East Policy, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter 2011, p. 158.


Markedonov claims that instability in Ingushetia, Chechnya and

Dagestan must not be viewed as a manifestation of ethnic nationalism or
separatism. See Sergey Markedonov, Radical Islam in the North
Caucasus: Evolving Threats, Challenges, and Prospects, A Russia and
Eurasia Program Report, Center for Strategic and International Studies
(CSIS), Washington, DC, November 2010, p. 5. Dismissing ethnicity and
separatism as factors in insurgent mobilization or denying that Islamic
radicalism is also secessionist, mimics Moscows propaganda offensive
depicting the insurrections as foreign imported conspiracies.


Personal communication with Walter Richmond, September 2013.


Robert W. Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North

Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011, p. 266.

Walter Richmond, The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, and Future,

London: Routledge, 2008, p. 161. Richmond believes that Wahhabism is
primarily used as an ideological justification for political separation from

Moscows exploitation of territorial disputes was evident in Ingushetia.

After the demise of the USSR, Chechnya and Ingushetia severed their joint
autonomous republic. While Chechnya opted for independence, Ingushetia
remained in the Russian Federation. Ingushetias decision was influenced
by its conflict with North Ossetia over Prigorodny district. A drive for
independence may have resulted in a permanent loss of this district for
Ingushetia. With Moscows support, Ingushetias eastern border with
Chechnya was drawn to favor the Ingush. Grozny seeks to revise those
agreements and Putin may want to reunify the two republics under
Chechnyas President Ramzan Kadyrov. See Valery Dzutsev, ChechenIngush Border Dispute Resembles Demarcation of Interstate Boundary,
Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol.
10, Issue 50, March 18, 2013.



Personal communication with Valery Dzutsev, September 2013.


Svante E. Cornell, Conflicts in the North Caucasus, Central Asian

Survey, Vol. 17, No. 3, 1998, pp. 420421,


Walter Richmond, The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, and Future,

London: Routledge, 2008, pp. 130150.

Moshe Gammer, Separatism in the Northern Caucasus, in Glen E.

Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North Caucasus,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, pp. 7091.


Valery Dzutsev, Circassian Activists in Turkey Receive Boost from

Erdogan, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 100, May 28, 2013.


Valery Dzutsev, Circassians Organize as Sochi Olympics Approach,

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol.
10, Issue 199, November 6, 2013.


Between 1856 and 1876, approximately 750,000 Circassians were

deported to the Ottoman Empire and at least 625,000 died at the hands of
Russian forces. Consult Walter Richmond, The Circassian Genocide, New
Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 2013, pp. 9192. In sum, 9597%
of all Circassians were either killed outright, died during Russian military
campaigns targeting civilians, or were forcibly deported (p. 132). The
major Sochi Olympic site at Krasnaya Polyana was the location of the final
battle to annihilate Circassians and where medals were awarded to Tsarist
officers for their successful civilian massacres.

Population statistics are from the 2010 census of the Russian

Federation. See the 2010 All-Russia Population Census, Federal State
Statistics Service, Moscow, 2011. Check Appendix II (below) for census


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of


Integration (I) Ethnicity and Conflict, Moscow, Russia, Europe Report No.
220, October 19, 2012, p. 30,

Valery Dzutsev, Ethnic Abaza React to Rising Karachai Nationalism,

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol.
10, Issue 92, May 15, 2013.


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (I) Ethnicity and Conflict, Moscow, Russia, Europe Report No.
220, October 19, 2012, p. 31,


Gordon M. Hahn, The Rise of Islamist Extremism in KabardinoBalkaria, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization,
Vol. 13, No. 4, 2005, pp. 543594. After the dissolution of the USSR, the
Congress of the Balkar People proclaimed an independent Republic of
Balkaria as a subject of the Russian Federation.


Valery Dzutsev, Karachai Expert Supports Redrawing the North

Caucasus Borders, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 37, February 27, 2013.


For a synopsis see, Fatima Tlisova, Kabardino-Balkaria: Sleeping

Beauty and the Awakening of the Circassian Heartland, in Glen E.
Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North Caucasus,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, pp. 309345.

C. W. Blandy, Municipal Reform in the North Caucasus: A Time

Bomb in the Making, Caucasus Series, Conflict Studies Research Centre,
07/07, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, March 2007, p. 1.



Matthew A. Light, A Survey of Political Trends in the Northwest

Caucasus: Krasnodar, Adygea, and Stavropol, in Glen E. Howard (Ed.),
Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North Caucasus, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, 2012, pp. 396397. Disputes are also evident
between Adygeans and Cossacks over Cossack representation in the
republican government.


Jim Nichol, Stability in Russias Chechnya and Other Regions of the

North Caucasus: Recent Developments, Washington, DC: CRS Report for
Congress, Congressional Research Service, December 13, 2010, p. 12.

Paul Goble, South Ossetia Wants to Join Russia but Moscow Unlikely
to Agree, Window on Eurasia: New Series, July 25, 2013.


Valery Dzutsev, Chechen Authorities Organize Incursion into

Ingushetia, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 77, April 24, 2013.


Moshe Gammer, The Road Not Taken: Daghestan and Chechen

Independence, Central Asian Survey, Vol. 24, No. 2, June 2005, pp. 97
108, <>.


Edward C. Holland and John OLoughlin, Ethnic Competition, Radical

Islam, and Challenges to Stability in the Republic of Dagestan, Communist
and Post-Communist Studies, 43, 2010, p. 300,


Svante E. Cornell, Conflicts in the North Caucasus, Central Asian

Survey, Vol. 17, No. 3, 1998, p. 433,


International Crisis Group, Russias Dagestan: Conflict Causes,

Makhachkala, Dagestan, Europe Report No. 192, June 3, 2008,

Mairbek Vatchagaev, Dagestan Is Enmeshed in Another Round of


Ethnic Confrontation, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 39, March 1, 2013.

International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (I) Ethnicity and Conflict, Moscow, Russia, Europe Report No.
220, October 19, 2012, p. 20,


Ibid, p. 21.


Mairbek Vatchagaev, Kumyk Leader Murdered in Dagestan, Eurasia

Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10,
Issue 79, April 26, 2013.


Moshe Gammer, Walking the Tightrope Between Nationalism(s) and

Islam(s): The Case of Daghestan, Central Asian Survey, Vol. 21, No. 2,
2002, p. 135, <>. Officials
in Azerbaijan possess evidence that Armenian intelligence services have
infiltrated the Lezgin population on behest of Russias FSB to increase the
specter of Lezgin separatism. Based on the authors discussions in Baku,
Azerbaijan, October 2013.

Paul Goble, New Districts in Daghestan Threaten Republics Delicate

Ethnic Balance, Window on Eurasia: New Series, December 1, 2013.

Mairbek Vatchagaev, No Letup in Insurgent Violence in Dagestan,

Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol.
10, Issue 38, February 28, 2013.


Consult Janusz Bugajski, Return of the Balkans: Challenges to European

Integration and U.S. Disengagement, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies
Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2013.


For a comprehensive report on shortcomings in institution building

that impede accession to the EU, see The Western Balkans: Between the


Economic Crisis and the European Perspective, Institute for Regional and
International Studies, Sofia, Bulgaria, September 2010,

Simonida Kacarska et al., 20 Years After 1991: The Tale of Two

Generations, Opinion Paper, Supporting Policy Development Paper Series,
1/2012, European Fund for the Balkans,


Bosnia 20 Years On: Remembrance but not Reconciliation,

TransConflict, May 10, 2012,


Bosnias predicament is described in Marko Attila Hoare, Bosnia and

Herzegovina: The Crumbling Balkan Keystone, Democracy and Security in
Southeastern Europe, Atlantic Initiative, Sarajevo, Vol. 1, Issue 1, 2010, pp.


Vlado Azinovic, Kurt Bassuener, and Bodo Weber, Assessing the

Potential for Renewed Ethnic Violence in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Atlantic
Initiative, Democratization Policy Council, Sarajevo, October 2011.


For material on the Greater Albania question, see Mimoza Ardolic,

Greater AlbaniaThe Next Crisis in the Balkans? Vaxjo University,
Spring 2009.

Anita McKinna, The Vetevendosje Movement in Kosovo: An

Increasing Focus on Nationalism,, February 22, 2012,


International Crisis Group, Macedonia: Ten Years After The Conflict,

Skopje, Macedonia, Europe Report No. 212, August 11, 2011, p. 20,


Saso Ordanoski, The Story of Macedonian Populism: All We Want is

Everything, in Morton Abramowitz et al., The Western Balkans and the
EU: The Hour of Europe, Chaillot Paper No. 126, European Union
Institute for Security Studies, Paris, France, June 6, 2011, p. 100,


Vladimir Ryzhkov, Russias March Toward Ruin, The Moscow Times,

November 4, 2013.


Paul Goble, Could an Ethnic Russia Republic be Established?

Window on Eurasia: New Series, March 30, 2013.


Personal communication with Walter Richmond, September 2013.


Paul Goble, Cossack Separatism Again on the Rise, Eurasia Daily

Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 105,
June 4, 2013. Cossack activism demonstrates the growing importance of
sub-ethnic communities and highlights the weakness of Russian ethnonational identity.

Valery Dzutsev, Experts in Russia Say Moscow Should Heed Lessons

from Wars in Syria, Libya and Yugoslavia, Eurasia Daily Monitor,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 101, May 29,


Mairbek Vatchagaev, Moscow Weighs Various Options for Stabilizing

Stavropol, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 34, February 22, 2013.


Andrew Foxall, Russias Canary in the North Caucasus Mine:

Stavropolskii krai, in Robert Bruce Ware (Ed.), The Fire Below: How the
Caucasus Shaped Russia, New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013, pp. 151173.



Paul Goble, Stavropol Kray Becoming Russias Kosovo, Moscow

Paper Says, Window on Eurasia: New Series, April 12, 2013. Clashes
between nationalist Russians and North Caucasus residents have also taken
in place in several inner Russian cities, including Moscow.


Valery Dzutsev, Public Campaign Heats Up for Redrawing of Internal

Borders of North Caucasus, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 67, April 10, 2013.


Paul Goble, Nationalists Planning to Declare Stavropol an Ethnic

Russian Republic, Window on Eurasia: New Series, August 20, 2013; and
Valery Dzutsev, Russian Movement in Stavropol Calls for Creation of
Russian Republic, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 158, September 9, 2013.


Islamic radicals in the North Caucasus and the Western Balkans refute
the Wahhabi label. They are more accurately defined as Salafists,
Qutbists, or Azzamists. Wahhabism does not promulgate the overthrow of
non-Islamic governments, while Salafism is not uniform but contains
different schools. All these creeds appeal through their simplicity and
universality in calling for a return to a pristine Islam, which entails
opposition to injustice and oppression. For a discussion, see Robert W.
Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From
Gazavat to Jihad, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011, pp. 150152.


Marat Shterin and Akhmet Yarlykapov, "Reconsidering Radicalisation

and Terrorism: The New Muslims Movement in Kabardino-Balkaria and
Its Path to Violence," Religion, State and Society, Vol. 39, No. 23, June
September 2011, pp. 303325,

Some studies question whether Islamic radicalism is growing in the

region. A 2006 survey by the Levada Analytic Center in Dagestan,
Kabardino-Balkaria, and North OssetiaAlania indicated that support for
militancy was fairly low among young males. Their most pressing concerns
were poor economic conditions and frustration with local institutions. See
Theodore P. Garber and Sarah E. Mendelson, Security Through Sociology:

The North Caucasus and the Global Counterinsurgency Paradigm, Studies
in Conflict and Terrorism, 32, 2009, pp. 831851.

Personal communication with Valery Dzutsev, September 2013.


Salafism, sometimes referred to as Islamism, is an anti-secular and

anti-democratic ideology based on puritanical interpretations of the central
tenets of Islamic doctrine. Salafist movements display similarities to
Western totalitarianisms such as Communism and fascism, in their
attempt to control all aspects of social and political life. See Jeffrey M. Bale,
Totalitarian Movements and Political Religions, Islamism and
Totalitarianism, Vol. 10, No. 2, June 2009, p. 73.


For an account of jihadist statements, see Gordon Hahn, AntiAmericanism, Anti-Westernism, and Anti-Semitism among Russias
Muslims, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization,
Vol. 16, No. 1, Winter 2008, pp. 4960,
Hahn views the North Caucasus insurgency as a sub-division of global
jihad rather than a struggle for decolonization and independence, whether
this is based on ethnic or religious principles, or both.

Emil Souleimanov, The Caucasus Emirate: Genealogy of an Islamist

Insurgency, Middle East Policy, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter 2011, p. 160.

For an analysis of the regional insurgency and the use of terrorism, see
Cerwyn Moore, Suicide Bombing: Chechnya, the North Caucasus and
Martyrdom, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 64, No. 9, November 2012, pp.


Domitilla Sagramoso, The Radicalisation of Islamic Salafi Jamaats in

the North Caucasus: Moving Closer to the Global Jihadist Movement?
Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 64, No. 3, May 2012, p. 564.

For an overview, see Zeyno Baran, S. Frederick Starr, and Svante E.

Cornell, Islamic Radicalism in Central Asia and the Caucasus: Implications

for the EU, Washington & Uppsala: Silk Road Paper, Central Asia
Caucasus Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, July 2006.

North Caucasus: Views from Within, Peoples Perspectives on Peace and

Security, Saferworld, London, March 2012, pp. 1013,


Galina M. Yemelianova, Kinship, Ethnicity and Religion in PostCommunist Societies: Russias Autonomous Republic of KabardinoBalkariya, Ethnicities, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2005, p. 68, <>.


International Crisis Group, Russias Dagestan: Conflict Causes,

Makhachkala, Dagestan, Europe Report No. 192, June 3, 2008, p. 1,


Emil Souleimanov, The Caucasus Emirate: Genealogy of an Islamist

Insurgency, Middle East Policy, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter 2011, p. 155.

Emil Souleimanov and Ondrej Ditrych, The Internationalisation of the

Russian-Chechen Conflict: Myths and Reality, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol.
60, No. 7, September 2008, p. 1219.


Domitilla Sagramoso, The Radicalisation of Islamic Salafi Jamaats in

the North Caucasus: Moving Closer to the Global Jihadist Movement?
Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 64, No. 3, May 2012, pp. 561595.

An analysis of the rise of Salafism in Dagestan can be found in Robert

Bruce Ware and Enver Kisriev, Dagestan: Russian Hegemony and Islamic
Resistance in the North Caucasus, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010, pp. 90


Domitilla Sagramoso, The Radicalisation of Islamic Salafi Jamaats in

the North Caucasus: Moving Closer to the Global Jihadist Movement?
Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 64, No. 3, May 2012, pp. 561, 576.



Andrew McGregor, Military Jamaats in the North Caucasus: A

Continuing Threat, in Glen E. Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia
and the North Caucasus, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation,
2012, p. 237.


Saferworld, North Caucasus: Views from Within, Peoples Perspectives

on Peace and Security, London: Saferworld, March 2012, p. 24,


Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Jihadists: The Security and

Strategic Implications, in Stephen Blank (Ed.), Russias Homegrown
Insurgency: Jihad in the North Caucasus, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies
Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2012,
<>, p. 12.


Emil Souleimanov, The Caucasus Emirate: Genealogy of an Islamist

Insurgency, Middle East Policy, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter 2011, p. 161.

Mairbek Vatchagaev, Clashes Between Police and Militants Continue

to Be Reported in Kabardino-Balkaria, Eurasia Daily Monitor,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 138, July 26,


John Russell, Terrorists, Bandits, Spooks and Thieves: Russian

Demonisation of the Chechens Before and Since 9/11, Third World
Quarterly, Vol. 26, No. 1, 2005, pp. 101116.


For the role of jihadism in the Chechen resistance, see Emil

Souleimanov and Ondrej Ditrych, The Internationalisation of the
RussianChechen Conflict: Myths and Reality, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol.
60, No. 7, September 2008, p. 1215.


James Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, Philadelphia, PA:

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007, p. 13.


Hizb ut-Tahrir al-Islami, an international militant organization active

in Russia and Central Asia, also operates in the North Caucasus. Although
the group calls for the creation of an Islamic Caliphate, it recognizes the
legitimacy of other Muslims and does not ally itself with jihadists. Mairbek
Vatchagaev, International Islamist Movement Spreads to the North
Caucasus, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 93, May 16, 2013.

Emil Souleimanov and Ondrej Ditrych, The Internationalisation of the

Russian-Chechen Conflict: Myths and Reality, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol.
60, No. 7, September 2008, pp. 12078.


An appraisal of foreign insurgents can be found in Murad Batal AlShishani, The Rise and Fall of Arab Fighters in Chechnya, in Glen E.
Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North Caucasus,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, pp. 265293.


Emil Souleimanov and Ondrej Ditrych, The Internationalisation of the

Russian-Chechen Conflict: Myths and Reality, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol.
60, No. 7, September 2008, pp. 12091210.


Domitilla Sagramoso, The Radicalisation of Islamic Salafi Jamaats in

the North Caucasus: Moving Closer to the Global Jihadist Movement?
Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 64, No. 3, May 2012, p. 585. According to
Zurcher, The new Islamic symbol of resistance may also reflect a new
fundraising strategy of the Chechen rebels and an attempt by the global
jihad industry to hijack the Chechen national struggle for its own
propaganda efforts. See Christoph Zurcher, The Post-Soviet Wars:
Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict, and Nationhood in the Caucasus, New York:
New York University Press, 2007, p. 96.

Some analysts believe that the turn from Chechen nationalism toward
jihadist internationalism was visible earlier, following a meeting of the
ousted Chechen government in JulyAugust 2002, at which Maskhadov
and Basaev were present. See Gordon M. Hahn, Russias Islamic Threat,
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007, p. 40.


Jim Nichol, Stability in Russias Chechnya and Other Regions of the

North Caucasus: Recent Developments, Washington, DC: CRS Report for
Congress, Congressional Research Service, December 13, 2010, p. 1. For
more detail on the Caucasus Emirate, see IHS Janes Terrorism and
Insurgency Centre, Imarat Kavkaz, IHS Janes World Insurgency and
Terrorism, September 24, 2013, <>.

Robert W. Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North

Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011, p. 55.

Emil Souleimanov, The Caucasus Emirate: Genealogy of an Islamist

Insurgency, Middle East Policy, Vol. XVIII, No. 4, Winter 2011, p. 159.


Chen Bram and Moshe Gammer, Radical Islamism, Traditional Islam

and Ethno-Nationalism in the Northern Caucasus, Middle Eastern
Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2013, pp. 296337,

American Foreign Policy Council, Russia, in World Almanac of

Islamism, AFPC, Washington, DC, February 7, 2013, p. 4,
pdf>. The CE employs the self-designation of the Chechens (Nokchiy) and
Ingush (Ghalgai) in naming the two vilayats.


Umarov has ambitions to expand operations to the republics of

Tatarstan and Bashkortostan and other Muslim lands. See Gordon M.
Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Jihadists: The Security and Strategic
Implications, in Stephen Blank (Ed.), Russias Homegrown Insurgency:
Jihad in the North Caucasus, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies Institute, U.S.
Army War College, 2012, p. 62, <>.

Robert W. Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North

Caucasus: From Gazavat to Jihad, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011, p. 244.

Moshe Gammer, Between Mecca and Moscow: Islam, Politics and

Political Islam in Chechnya and Daghestan, Middle Eastern Studies, Vol.
41, No. 6, November 2005, p. 837.



John B. Dunlop and Rajan Menon, Chaos in the North Caucasus and
Russias Future, Survival, Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 2006, p. 109.


Valery Dzutsev, Government Forces in Dagestan Crack Down on

Militant Stronghold in Gimry, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC:
The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 70, April 15, 2013.


Mairbek Vatchagaev, Moscows Revolving Door of Alleged Killings of

Militant Leaders in Ingushetia Continues, Eurasia Daily Monitor,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 99, May 24,


Chen Bram and Moshe Gammer, Radical Islamism, Traditional Islam

and Ethno-Nationalism in the Northern Caucasus, Middle Eastern
Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2013, p. 323,

Gordon M. Hahn, The Rise of Islamist Extremism in KabardinoBalkariya, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization,
Vol. 13, No. 4, 2005, p. 570, <>. The
Islamic revival includes the building of mosques, madrasas, and Muslim
institutions in Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachay-Cherkessia, but with little
evidence of Islamic radicalism. Initial Chechen attempts to mobilize the
Muslims in the northwest Caucasus failed, as Islam remained a secondary
factor to ethno-nationalism.




Mairbek Vatchagaev, Surge in Militant Activity in Kabardino-Balkaria

May Force Ouster of Kanokov, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC:
The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 112, June 13, 2013.


Mairbek Vatchagaev, The Chechen Resistance: Yesterday, Today, and

Tomorrow, in Glen E. Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the
North Caucasus, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, p.



Valery Dzutsev, North Ossetian Interior Ministry Clashes with the

Republican Government, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 131, July 17, 2013.

Mairbek Vatchagaev, North Ossetian Interior Ministry Clashes with

the Republican Government: Religious Violence Hits Relatively Quiet
North Ossetia, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 10, January 18, 2013.


Militants in Russias North Caucasus are Now Self-Financing

Official, Interfax, July 31, 2013, <>, NewsEdge
Document Number: 201307311477.1_d413001aa0474a2a.


Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus and Russia's Syria Policy,The

National Interest, September 26, 2013.


Moscows anxieties are outlined in Vladimir Mukhin, A Syrian

Springboard for North Caucasus Insurgents, Nezavisimaya Gazeta Online,
September 5, 2013, <>, NewsEdge Document Number:


Valery Dzutsev, War in Syria Has Reverberations in the North

Caucasus, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 170, September 25, 2013.


Xavier Bougarel, The Role of the Balkan Muslims in Building a

European Islam, European Policy Center Issue Paper, No. 43, November
22, 2005, p. 9.


For an interpretation of Balkan Islam as part of a strategy in which

secular westernized Muslims in Kosova and Bosnia-Herzegovina are
allegedly linked with the global jihad, see Robert J. Pranger, The Milosevic
and Islamization Factors: Writing Contemporary History in the Balkans,
Mediterranean Quarterly, 22:1, Winter 2011.



See Kenneth Morrison, Wahhabism in the Balkans, Advanced

Research and Assessment Group, Defence Academy of the United
Kingdom, February 2008, p. 11,

For sensationalist depictions of Bosniak Muslims, see John R.

Schindler, Unholy Terror: Bosnia and al-Qaida and the Rise of Global
Jihad, Saint Paul, MN: Zenith Press, 2007; and Christopher Deliso, The
Coming Balkan Caliphate: The Threat of Radical Islam to Europe and the
West, Westport, CT: Praeger, 2007.


An analysis of Wahhabism, Salafism, and the Takfiri movement in

Bosnia can be found in Juan Carloz Antunez, Comprehensive Analysis of
the Phenomenon of Wahhabism in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnian
Institute, London, September 2008,


Eldar Sarajlic, The Return of the Consuls: Islamic Networks and

Foreign Policy Perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, paper presented
at the conference After the Wahhabi Mirage: Islam, Politics, and
International Networks in the Balkans, European Studies Centre, Oxford
University, December 2010, p. 9.


Aristotle Tziampiris, Assessing Islamic Terrorism in the Western

Balkans: The State of the Debate, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern
Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2009, p. 213.


Kenneth Morrison, Wahhabism in the Balkans, Advanced Research

and Assessment Group, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom,
February 2008, p. 5, <>.


Marko Rakic and Dragisa Jurisic, Wahhabism as a Militant Form of

Islam on Europes Doorstep, Studies in Conflict and Terrorism, 35:9, 2012,
p. 657. The authors believe that terrorists infiltrate Western Europe from
their bases in the Balkans. In reality, urban terrorists do not need bases or
safe havens, as they operate in largely anonymous city environments.

Homegrown terrorists operate in several West European states where they
have perpetrated more destructive attacks than any terrorists in the

Gyorgy Lederer, Islam in East Europe, Central Asian Survey, Vol. 20,
No. 1, 2001, pp. 1314. Lederer provides a dispassionate analysis of Islam
in the Western Balkans and its minimal impact on national politics. The
OAYI and other Salifist groups came under intense scrutiny after the 9/11
attacks on the U.S., and most were disbanded or moderated their approach.


Radical Groups in the Balkans: The Case of Wahhabi Jasarevic,

Helsinki Bulletin, No. 84, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia,
Belgrade, Serbia, November 2011, <>.

Sandzak: Still a Vulnerable Region, Helsinki Committee for Human

Rights in Serbia, Belgrade, Serbia, Annual Report 2004.


Juan Carloz Antunez, Comprehensive Analysis of the Phenomenon of

Wahhabism in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Bosnian Institute, London,
September 2008,


Radical Groups in the Balkans: The Case of Wahhabi Jasarevic,

Helsinki Bulletin, No. 84, Helsinki Committee for Human Rights in Serbia,
Belgrade, Serbia, November 2011, <>. Salafist
groups are also reported in several towns in Montenegrin Sandzak where
there is a substantial Muslim population. Their efforts to recruit followers
have been limited by opposition from the official Islamic Community.


AFP, October 29, 2011.

For an overview of Turkeys role in the Balkans, see Janusz Bugajski,

Turkeys Impact in the Western Balkans, Atlantic Council, Washington,
DC, February 2012,
<>; and
Zarko Petrovic and Dusan Reljic, Turkish Interests and Involvement in
the Western Balkans: A Score-Card, Insight Turkey, Vol. 13, No. 3, 2011,


pp. 159172. Balkan leaders avoid creating the impression that they are
moving closer to Turkey and discarding their EU aspirations. See Turkey
in the Balkans: The Good Old Days? Talk of an Ottoman Revival in the
Region Seems Exaggerated, The Economist, November 5, 2011.

Aristotle Tziampiris, Assessing Islamic Terrorism in the Western

Balkans: The State of the Debate, Journal of Balkan and Near Eastern
Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2009, p. 210.


Gezim Krasniqi, The Forbidden Fruit: Islam and Politics of Identity

in Kosovo and Macedonia, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies,
11:2, 2011, pp. 191207,

Growing Religiosity Sparks Kosovo Debate, On Islam & Newspapers,

April 12, 2012, <>.


Kosovar Institute for Policy Research and Development (KIPRD),

Political Islam Among the Albanians: Are the Taliban Coming to the
Balkans? Policy Research Series, Paper No. 2, Prishtina, June 2005.


Muhamet Brajshori, Islamic Movement Bashkohus Move to Launch

Political Activities Sparks a Debate in Kosovo, Southeast European Times,
Prishtina, March 4, 2013.


Misko Taleski, Law Enforcement Re-examines Islamic Groups in the

Balkans, Southeast European Times, May 6, 2013. Macedonian Wahhabis
reportedly have a militarized faction known as the Protectors of Islam. See
Kenneth Morrison, Wahhabism in the Balkans, Advanced Research and
Assessment Group, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, February
2008, p. 10, <>.


Hajrudin Somun, Mujahideen from Balkans in Syria, Todays Zaman,

July 1, 2013, <>.



For an account of the Muslim renaissance, see Mikhail Roshchin,

Islam in the Northern Caucasus: The Case of Dagestan, in Glen E.
Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North Caucasus,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, pp. 159179.


Walter Richmond, The Northwest Caucasus: Past, Present, and Future,

London: Routledge, 2008, p. 147.

Chen Bram and Moshe Gammer, Radical Islamism, Traditional Islam

and Ethno-Nationalism in the Northern Caucasus, Middle Eastern
Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2013,

Neil J. Melvin, Building Stability in the North Caucasus: Ways

Forward for Russia and the European Union, SIPRI Policy Paper No. 16,
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, May 2007, p. 19.


Galina M. Yemelianova, Kinship, Ethnicity and Religion in PostCommunist Societies: Russias Autonomous Republic of KabardinoBalkariya, Ethnicities, Vol. 5, No. 1, 2005, p. 67, <>.


Ruslan Kurbanov, Urban and Rural Islam in the Caucasus:

Modernisation versus Conservation, Religion, State and Society, Vol. 39,
Nos. 23, 2011, pp. 347365,


Paul Goble, Young Daghestanis Overwhelmingly Fundamentalist, But

Few are Militants, Window on Eurasia: New Series, September 4, 2013.
Young people in Dagestan form about 40% of the population and they are
reportedly more religious than their elders.

Chen Bram and Moshe Gammer, Radical Islamism, Traditional Islam

and Ethno-Nationalism in the Northern Caucasus, Middle Eastern
Studies, Vol. 49, No. 2, 2013,



Paul Goble, Nationality in Russia Increasingly Defined by Religion,

Moscow Scholar, Window on Eurasia: New Series, April 11, 2013,


Paul Goble, Russias Muslims Increasingly Radicalized by Events in the

Middle East, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 174, October 1, 2013.


Gordon M. Hahn, The Rise of Islamist Extremism in KabardinoBalkariya, Demokratizatsiya: The Journal of Post-Soviet Democratization,
Vol. 13, No. 4, 2005, p. 565, <>.


Ingushetian Authorities Step Up Pressure On Respected Cleric,

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, August 1, 2013.


Mairbek Vatchagaev, Murder of Leading Dagestani Cleric Signals

Deepening Crisis in Sufi Hierarchy, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington,
DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 147, August 8, 2013.


Kerem Oktem, Between Emigration, De-Islamization and the NationState: Muslim Communities in the Balkans Today, Southeast European
and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2011, p. 165. Also check the
fuller report by Kerem Oktem, New Islamic Actors After the Wahhabi
Intermezzo: Turkeys Return to the Muslim Balkans, European Studies
Centre, University of Oxford, December 2010.


A description of Bosnian Islam can be found in Ahmet Alibasic,

Traditional and Reformist Islam in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Sarajevo:
Cambridge Programme for Security in International Society (C-SIS)
Working Paper No. 2, 2003,


For a discussion of Islam in Bosnia-Herzegovina, see Xavier Bougarel,

Bosnian Islam as European Islam: Limits and Shifts of a Concept, in

Aziz Al-Azmeh and Effie Fokas (Eds.), Islam in Europe: Diversity, Identity
and Influence, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007, pp. 96124.

Linda Karadaku, Extremists Exploit Poverty, Youth in Recruiting

Efforts, Southeast European Times, Prishtina, May 13, 2013.


Eldar Sarajlic, The Return of the Consuls: Islamic Networks and

Foreign Policy Perspectives in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Southeast
European and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 11, No. 2, June 2011, p. 177.


For an appraisal of foreign Islamic influences in Bosnia-Herzegovina,

see Harun Kari, Islamic Revival in Post-Socialist Bosnia and Herzegovina:
International Actors and Activities, Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs,
30:4, 2010, pp. 519534,


Miranda Vickers, Islam in Albania, Advanced Research and

Assessment Group, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom, Balkans
Series, 08/09, March 2008, pp. 35,
<>. Following the 9/11 attacks,
intelligence monitoring of Islamic organizations in Albania increased,
creating a more difficult climate for radicals. Several Islamic organizations
subsequently left the country.


American Foreign Policy Council, Albania, in World Almanac of

Islamism, AFPC, Washington, DC, July 14, 2011, p. 2,


Kenneth Morrison, Wahhabism in the Balkans, Advanced Research

and Assessment Group, Defence Academy of the United Kingdom,
February 2008, p. 11, <>.


Educational projects funded by the Turkish Muslim Fethullah Gulen

have been pursued in several Balkan states. Although essentially a pious
Islamic group, the Gulen movement is closely monitored in several


countries in case it promotes religious involvement in secular political
systems. In Albania, the Gulen movement runs educational institutions
from kindergartens to universities, and promotes Turkish language and
culture. Some observers view it with suspicion as an organization that is
political in its ambitions and intent on creating an elite that will pursue the
Islamization of state and society. This information is from an unpublished
paper by Piro Misha, The Neo-Ottomanist Project and Albania, Tirana,
Albania, provided to the author in June 2013. Religious education in the
Western Balkans is also supported by Turkish state agencies.

Valery Dzutsev, Russian Expert Foresees the North Caucasus as an

Untenable Colonial Domain, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC:
The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 104, June 3, 2013. Sokolov also
highlights the deep division between ethnic Russians, who put their faith
in an omnipotent, paternalistic state, and the North Caucasians, who rely
on the grassroots organization mechanism that is the network of jamaats.


Christoph Zurcher, The Post-Soviet Wars: Rebellion, Ethnic Conflict,

and Nationhood in the Caucasus, New York: New York University Press,
2007, pp. 3536. In the USSR, the borderline between Union Republics
(UR), which had the legal right to secede, and Autonomous Republics
(AR), which did not have this right, was fluid. For instance, at different
times the status of Moldova and Kazakhstan was changed from AR to UR,
while Karelia was altered from a UR to an AR. See Andrei Illarionov and
Boris Lvin, Should Russia Recognize Chechnyas Independence? in Tony
Wood, Chechnya: The Case for Independence, London, New York: Verso,
2007, p. 187.

A detailed account of the Russo-Chechen wars can be found in Mark

Kramer, Guerrilla Warfare, Counterinsurgency and Terrorism in the
North Caucasus: The Military Dimension of the Russian-Chechen
Conflict, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 57, No. 2, March 2005, pp. 209290.

According to Hughes, Russia was largely to blame for Chechnyas

deterioration because of its economic and military blockade: If criminal
activity occurred, it required official cooperation at the highest military, if
not political, levels in Russia. See James Hughes, Chechnya: From

Nationalism to Jihad, Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press,
2007, p. 63.

Tony Wood, Chechnya: The Case for Independence, London, New York:
Verso, 2007, p. 120.


For a discussion of Kadyrovs role in maintaining Chechnya within

Russia in return for federal aid and Moscows acceptance of large-scale
official corruption, see John Russell, Kadyrovs ChechnyaTemplate,
Test or Trouble for Russias Regional Policy? Europe-Asia Studies, Vol. 63,
No. 3, May 2011, pp. 509528.


There are indications of persistent political disagreements among

Chechens regarding the ChRI and the CE. Many young Chechens in the
diaspora support the revival of the Ichkerian state. The London-based
Chechen leader Akhmed Zakaev and members of the exiled ChRI
parliament uphold this platform. More than 200,000 Chechens have fled to
Western Europe and have an increasing voice in the Chechen opposition
movement. See Mairbek Vatchagaev, Caucasus Emirate Leader Discusses
Chechens in Syria in New Video, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington,
DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 152, August 15, 2013.


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (II), Islam, the Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency, Moscow,
Russia, Europe Report No. 221, October 19, 2012, p. 13,


Domitilla Sagramoso and Akhmet Yarlykapov, Caucasian Crescent:

Russias Islamic Policies and its Responses to Radicalization, in Robert
Bruce Ware (Ed.), The Fire Below: How the Caucasus Shaped Russia, New
York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013, pp. 7476.


Charles King and Rajan Menon, Prisoners of the CaucasusRussias

Invisible Civil War, Foreign Affairs, Vol. 89, No. 4, July/August 2010, p.




Roland Dannreuther and Luke March, Chechnya: Has Moscow Won?

Survival, Vol. 50, No. 4, AugustSeptember 2008, p. 106.


Valery Dzutsev, Experts Warn Moscows North Caucasus Policies

Exacerbate Regional Instability, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC:
The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 82, May 1, 2013. For predictions
about a Third Chechen War that would oust Russian forces from the
region, see Lauren Goodrich and Peter Zeihan, A Crucible of Nations: The
Geopolitics of the Caucasus, Austin, TX: A Stratfor Book, 2011, pp. 109


Paul Goble, Chechenization Has Produced a Unique State in North

Caucasus, Russian, ICG Expert Says, Window on Eurasia: New Series,
April 27, 2013.


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (III), Governance, Elections, Rule of Law, Brussels, Belgium,
Europe Report No. 226, September 6, 2013, p. i,


Paul Goble, North Caucasus More Unstable and More Threatening to

Moscow Now than a Year Ago, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC:
The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 2, January 8, 2013.


Ivan Sukhov, North Caucasian Map of Threats, Russia in Global

Affairs, Vol. 3, No. 4, OctoberDecember 2005, pp. 150158.


For an analysis of the war in the North Caucasus, see Robert W.

Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From
Gazavat to Jihad, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011. Terrorism is difficult
to define precisely, but it involves the deliberate targeting of unarmed
civilians, to instill fear, extract revenge, obtain political concessions or gain



Ibid., Robert W. Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North

Caucasus, p. 22.

Paul Goble, Social Terrorism Displacing Religious and Ethnic

Violence in Russian Federation, Analyst Says, Window on Eurasia: New
Series, September 8, 2013.


Paul Goble, Umarovs Threat to Sochi Will Lead Moscow to Tighten

the Screws in North Caucasus, Experts Say, Window on Eurasia: New
Series, July 4, 2013.


Mairbek Vatchagaev, Special Operation Along Chechen-Ingush

Border May Be Targeting Doku Umarov, Eurasia Daily Monitor,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 68, April 11,
2013. Moscow may also face peaceful demonstrations by an assortment of
groups during the Olympic events, including Circassian, environmentalist
and human rights activists.


Ahead of Games, Dagestan Leader Faces Pressure to Quell Violence,

The Moscow Times Online, September 26, 2013,


Mairbek Vatchagaev, Dagestans Delicate Ethnic Balance Is Under

Threat, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 13, January 24, 2013.


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (II), Islam, the Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency, Moscow,
Russia, Europe Report No. 221, October 19, 2012, p. 2,



Valery Dzutsev, Abdulatipov Crackdown Emulates Soviet-Era

Methods in Dagestan, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 134, July 22, 2013.


Paul Goble, Abdulatipovs New Hard Line on Islamists Reflects

Deteriorating Security Situation in Daghestan, Window on Eurasia: New
Series, July 24, 2013.


Paul Goble, Both Secularists and Islamists Want Daghestan to Be

Independent, Makhachkala Commentator Says, Window on Eurasia: New
Series, May 10, 2013.


For information on the report, see Robert Bruce Ware and Enver
Kisriev, Dagestan: Russian Hegemony and Islamic Resistance in the North
Caucasus, Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2010, pp. 191195.


Valery Dzutsev, Circassians Urge Russian President and Parliament to

Recognize Circassian Genocide, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington,
DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 85, May 6, 2013. Moscow
fears recognizing the Circassian genocide, as this would entail
compensation payments to descendants of survivors and calls for the
repatriation of the Circassian diaspora, estimated at over two million


Valery Dzutsev, Circassian Activists Unite Around Circassian

Genocide Issue, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 60, April 1, 2013.


Paul Goble, Circassians Unite in Defense of Their Language, Culture

and Nation, Window on Eurasia: New Series, March 16, 2013. The halfmillion Circassians in the Russian Federation consist of several distinct
groups, including Adygeans, Cherkess, Kabardins, Abaza, and Shapsugs.


Based on the authors meetings in Tbilisi, Georgia, in October 2013.


Mairbek Vatchagaev, Is Kabardino-Balkaria Following the Path of

Dagestan? Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown

Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 84, May 3, 2013.

Valery Dzutsev, Experts Warn Moscows North Caucasus Policies

Exacerbate Regional Instability, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC:
The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 82, May 1, 2013.


Emil Souleimanov and Ondrej Ditrych, The Internationalisation of the

Russian-Chechen Conflict: Myths and Reality, Europe-Asia Studies, Vol.
60, No. 7, September 2008, p. 1200.


There is debate whether Russias security services staged the apartment

block bombings in Moscow, Volgodonsk, and Buynaksk in September 1999
to justify launching a second war against Chechnya. For an analysis of the
bombings and FSB involvement, see John Dunlop, The Moscow
Bombings of September 1999: Examinations of Russian Terrorist Attacks
at the Onset of Vladimir Putin's Rule, Soviet and Post-Soviet Politics and
Society, Vol. 110, January 5, 2012.


About 90% of the budgets of Chechnya and Ingushetia are dispensed by

Moscow; other North Caucasus republics are not far behind. Between 2000
and 2010, Moscow spent an estimated $27 billion in the region. See Robert
W. Schaefer, The Insurgency in Chechnya and the North Caucasus: From
Gazavat to Jihad, Santa Barbara, CA: Praeger, 2011, p. 281.


For a summary of human rights abuses by federal and regional security

forces in Ingushetia, see Security With Human Rights: The Circle of
InjusticeA Summary, Security Operations and Human Rights Violations
in Ingushetia, Russian Federation, Amnesty International, June 2012.
Abuses include extrajudicial executions, secret detentions, torture and
other ill treatment, and threats against families of suspected insurgents.


Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr, The Caucasus: A Challenge for

Europe, Washington & Uppsala: Silk Road Paper, Central AsiaCaucasus
Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, June 2006, p. 60.

Aurelie Campana, The Effects of War on the Chechen National

Identity Construction, National Identities, Vol. 8, No. 2, June 2006, pp.


129148. The analysis is unnecessarily jargonized and misses the obvious
point that elites in most societies can be divided in their responses to the
ambitions of intrusive imperial powers.

Pavel Baev, Instrumentalizing Counterterrorism for Regime

Consolidation in Putins Russia Studies, Conflict and Terrorism, 27, 2004,
p. 338.


International Crisis Group, The North Caucasus: The Challenges of

Integration (II), Islam, the Insurgency and Counter-Insurgency, Moscow,
Russia, Europe Report No. 221, October 19, 2012, p. 23,


John Dunlop, Putin, Kozak and Russian Policy Toward the North
Caucasus, in Glen E. Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the
North Caucasus, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, p. 49.
The total number of residents of Chechnya killed in the two wars with
Moscow is estimated at 150,000, or 15% of the populationthe vast
majority non-combatant civilians. This surpasses the massacre of Bosnian
Muslim civilians, with an estimated 100,000 killed during the 19921995
war, or under 6% of the population.


Gordon Bennett, Vladimir Putin and Russias Special Services,

Conflict Studies Research Centre, August 2002, p. 29.


Pavel Baev, The Russian Military Campaign in the North Caucasus,

in Glen E. Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the North
Caucasus, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, p. 124.


For details on Russias anti-civilian war, see Emma Gilligan, Terror in

ChechnyaRussia and the Tragedy of Civilians in War, Princeton, NJ:
Princeton University Press, 2010.



Dan Peleschuk, Russias Cossacks Return, Global Post, May 5, 2013,



Quoted by Maura Reynolds, Krieg ohne Regeln Russische Soldaten

in Tschetschenien, in Florian Hassel (Ed.), Der Krieg im Schatten
Russland und Tschetschenien, Frankfurt am Main, Germany: Suhrkamp,
2003, p. 135.

James Hughes, Chechnya: From Nationalism to Jihad, Philadelphia, PA:

University of Pennsylvania Press, 2007, p. 151.

Valery Dzutsev, Gimry Becomes Target of Dagestan Government

Reprisals Again, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 90, May 13, 2013.

Valery Dzutsev, Tensions Increase in Dagestan as Authorities Pursue

Heavy-Handed Tactics, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The
Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 154, September 3, 2013.


The UN has a hypocritical record on decolonization and national selfdetermination, having adopted contradictory positions on Europes
overseas empires and the contiguous Russo-Soviet empire. It accepted the
legitimacy of the Soviet Union and failed to protest against Moscows
curtailment of Central-Eastern European independence between 1945 and


See Anna Matveeva, The Northeastern Caucasus: Drifting Away from

Russia, in Robert Bruce Ware (Ed.), The Fire Below: How the Caucasus
Shaped Russia, New York, NY: Bloomsbury, 2013, pp. 253282.


Personal communication with Valery Dzutsev, September 2013.


Personal communication with Emil Souleimanov, September 2013.


Personal communication with Valery Dzutsev, September 2013.

Dzutsev points out that it is difficult to estimate the extent of support for


independent statehood as there is no reliable public opinion polling, but
believes it is higher than Moscow admits.

Personal communication with Mairbek Vatchagaev, September 2013.


Personal communication with Walter Richmond, September 2013.


For details on the Mountain Republic, see Moshe Gammer, The Lone
Wolf and the Bear: Three Centuries of Chechen Defiance of Russian Rule,
London: Hurst and Company, 2006, pp. 120128. It was established after
the Bolshevik putsch in October 1917 and declared independence in April
1918. The Red Army retook the territory during 1919, incorporated it as an
Autonomous Republic in the Russian Soviet Republic in January 1921, and
dissolved it in July 1924.

For a discussion of North Caucasus identity, see Olga Vassilieva,

Conflict Management in the Caucasus via Development of Regional
Identity, in Jan Koehler and Christoph Zurcher, Potentials of Disorder,
Manchester, England: Manchester University Press, 2003, pp. 174192.

Some analysts in Baku believe that only Russia is currently in a position

to control the North Caucasus, and the loss of the region to Moscow could
create a dangerous power vacuum. Based on the authors discussions in
Baku in October 2013.


Based on the authors discussions with analysts in Tbilisi, Georgia in

October 2013.


Gordon M. Hahn, The Caucasus Emirate Jihadists: The Security and

Strategic Implications, in Stephen Blank (Ed.), Russias Homegrown
Insurgency: Jihad in the North Caucasus, Carlisle, PA: Strategic Studies
Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2012, p. 147,


John B. Dunlop and Rajan Menon, Chaos in the North Caucasus and
Russias Future, Survival, Vol. 4, No. 2, Summer 2006, pp. 111. If Islamist
extremists establish secure footholds across the North Caucasus, they

would be better positioned to assist Muslim militants in Central Asia.
Salafists in western Kazakhstan reportedly maintain connections with the
North Caucasus.

Christian Axboe Nielsen, The Kosovo Precedent and the Rhetorical

Deployment of Former Yugoslav Analogies in the Cases of Abkhazia and
South Ossetia, Southeast European and Black Sea Studies, Vol. 9, Nos. 12,
March-June 2009, pp. 171189, <>.


Svante E. Cornell and S. Frederick Starr, The Caucasus: A Challenge for

Europe, Washington & Uppsala: Silk Road Paper, Central Asia-Caucasus
Institute and Silk Road Studies Program Joint Center, June 2006, p. 69.

Personal communication with Mairbek Vatchagaev, September 2013.


Valery Dzutsev, Activist Says Abkhaz Are Not Genuine Allies of

Circassians, Eurasia Daily Monitor, Washington, DC: The Jamestown
Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 183, October 15, 2013.

Valery Dzutsev, Disappointed in Moscow, Russian Circassian Activist

Hails Georgias Approach to the North Caucasus, Eurasia Daily Monitor,
Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, Vol. 10, Issue 95, May 20,


Personal communication with Valery Dzutsev, September 2013.


For details, see the Declaration from the EUWestern Balkans Summit,
Thessaloniki, June 21, 2003, Europa EU, Press Release Database,


For a condemnation of Western responses, see Tony Wood, Chechnya:

The Case for Independence, London, New York: Verso, 2007, p. 79.


Putin stated: We are confronted by destructive anti-Russian activities

on the part of some foreign countries and public and international
organizations under their control. As before, they see the North Caucasus
as a springboard for destabilizing the situation in Russia in general, for


causing us economic harm, for denigrating Russias influence and for
limiting our presence in the global arena. See Putin: Some Countries see
N.Caucasus As Springboard for Destabilization in Russia, Interfax-AVN
Online, September 9, 2013, <>,
NewsEdge Document Number: 201309091477.1_930d00143f1aeba4. See
also Putin Opens Russian Security Council Meeting on North Caucasus,
Moscow President of Russia in English, Official website of the Russian
Federation President, September 9, 2013, <>,
NewsEdge Document Number: 201309091477.1_7ee700f50f87fb55.

Marie Bennigsen Broxup, The Russian Experience With Muslim

Insurgencies, in Glen E. Howard (Ed.), Volatile Borderland: Russia and the
North Caucasus, Washington, DC: The Jamestown Foundation, 2012, p.


An example of conceptually folding North Caucasus separatism within

the global jihad is provided by Gordon M. Hahn, Russias Islamic Threat,
New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2007. By acquiescing to Moscows
eradication of separatist movements through a policy of state terrorism, the
U.S. is not stemming jihadism. On the contrary, Moscows neo-imperial
approach is helping to expand the appeal and impact of armed Salafism.

Gordon M. Hahn, Russias Islamic Threat, New Haven, CT: Yale

University Press, 2007, pp. 226230.


While Moscow claims that Washington seeks to separate the North

Caucasus from Russia to gain strategic advantage in the region, Islamist
leaders assert that such separation would undermine U.S. policy against
international jihadists.

This could be based on the model of the United Nations Preventive

Deployment Force (UNPREDEP) mission emplaced along the border
between Macedonia and Kosova from 1995 to 1999. The force was
empowered to monitor and report developments in the border areas that
could undermine stability in Macedonia.







Russian Federation Census, 2010
Ethnic Group
Total Population
Persons who declared nationality
Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity

Total population
Persons who declared nationality


% of Population








Ethnic Group
Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity

Total Population
Persons who declared nationality


% of Population









Ethnic Group
Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity

Total Population
Persons who declared nationality
Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity


% of Population











Total Population
Persons who declared nationality 857,670


Ethnic Group
Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity


% of Population






Total Population
Persons who declared nationality 474,360
Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity

Total Population
Persons who declared nationality





Ethnic Group
Meskhetian Turks
Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity


% of Population






Total Population
Persons who declared nationality 706,423


Ethnic Group


% of Population


Other nationalities
(not listed above)
Persons who refused to declare
national identity


Total Population
Persons who declared nationality
Other nationalities
(not listed above)







Ethnic Group



Persons who refused to declare
national identity


% of Population

Source: Russian Federation, Federal State Statistics ServiceOfficial

Census Results 2010, Informational Materials About the Final
Results of the National Census in 2010 (

2010 ), Attachment 7: The National Composition
of the Population of the Subjects of the Russian
Federation ( 7:




JANUSZ BUGAJSKI is a foreign policy analyst, author, lecturer,
columnist, consultant, and television host based in the United
States. His current positions include non-resident Senior Associate
at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Chair of SouthCentral Europe Area Studies at the Foreign Service Institute, U.S.
Department of State, as an independent contractor, and host of the
television show Bugajski Hour, broadcast on Albanian Screen in
Tirana, Albania. Bugajski is a regular contributor to various U.S.
and European newspapers, publishes in international journals, and
is a columnist for media outlets in Albania, Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Bulgaria, Croatia, Georgia, Kosova, and Ukraine. He has authored
the following books:
Return of the Balkans: Challenges to European Integration and
U.S. Disengagement
Strategic Studies Institute, U.S. Army War College, 2013
Journeys of No Return: The Balkan Sagas of Anvil Kutlas
Create Space, 2011
Georgian Lessons: Conflicting Russian and Western Interests in
the Wider Europe
CSIS Press, 2010
Dismantling the West: Russias Atlantic Agenda
Potomac Books, 2009
Americas New European Allies
Nova Science Publishers, 2009

Expanding Eurasia: Russias European Ambitions

CSIS Press, 2008
The Eastern Dimension of Americas New European Allies
U.S. Army War College, 2007
Atlantic Bridges: Americas New European Allies
(with Ilona Teleki),
Rowman & Littlefield, 2007
Americas New Allies: Central-Eastern Europe and the
Transatlantic Link
CSIS Press, 2006
Kosova Rising: From Occupation to Independence
Koha, Prishtina, Kosova, 2006
Cold Peace: Russias New Imperialism
Praeger/Greenwood, 2004
(Translated into Romanian, Bulgarian, and Lithuanian)
Back to the Front: Russian Interests in the New Eastern Europe
Donald T. Treadgold Papers in Russian, East European, and Central
Asian Studies, No.41,
University of Washington, 2004
Political Parties of Eastern Europe: A Guide to Politics in the
Post-Communist Era
M. E. Sharpe, 2002
Nations in Turmoil: Conflict and Cooperation in Eastern Europe
Westview Press, 1993;
Second edition, 1995

Ethnic Politics in Eastern Europe: A Guide to Nationality

Policies, Organizations, and Parties
M. E. Sharpe, 1994
Fourth World Conflicts: Communism and Rural Societies
Westview Press, 1991
Sandinista Communism and Rural Nicaragua
Praeger / CSIS, 1990
East European Fault Lines: Dissent, Opposition, and Social
Westview Press, 1989
Czechoslovakia: Charter 77's Decade of Dissent
Praeger/CSIS, 1987


I would like to thank the Smith Richardson Foundation for its
generous support for this project. In addition to all the people I
consulted on the two conflict zones, my special gratitude for
research and fact checking is extended to my unassailable assistant
and editor Simona Assenova. This monograph is dedicated to all the
people in the North Caucasus and the Western Balkans who long for
freedom and independence.