March 8, 2010 — Contents


(1)  EDITORIAL:   A Serious Misstep from Tymoshenko

(2)  EDITORIAL:  Khodorkovsky, Russia’s Oddest Duck

(3)  Exposing Russia’s Potemkin Modernization

(4)  The West must face Russia on Ukraine, Georgia

(5) Khodorkovsky comes out Swinging

NOTE:  LR publisher and founder Kim Zigfeld’s latest installment of her Russia column on the powerful American Thinker blog blasts the failed foreign policy of Barack Obama, which has driven the French into cozying up to Russia and supplying dangerous warships to the KGB dictatorship.  Just as the French once surrendered to Hitler, they now roll over for the KGB.

6 responses to “March 8, 2010 — Contents

  1. Thousands Of Russians Seek Asylum In EU, Ukraine

    March 03, 2010
    MOSCOW — More than 5,000 Russian citizens sought political asylum in the European Union in the third quarter of 2009, more than from any other country, RFE/RL’s Russian Service reports.

    According to European Statistics Agency data, the largest single category of asylum-seekers are Chechens and residents of other North Caucasus republics.

    But political and human rights activists and journalists are also seeking asylum in Europe.

    While several high-profile Russian businessmen and politicians have been granted asylum in the EU — most notably in the United Kingdom — an increasing number of Russians are seeking asylum in Ukraine.

    Olga Kudrina, who heads the Union of Political Emigrants, told RFE/RL that she joined the Russian National Bolshevik Party in 2003 and was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in prison for hanging a banner from a hotel near Red Square in 2005 calling for then-President Vladimir Putin to resign.

    She fled Russia in 2006 and was granted refugee status in Ukraine two years later.

    Kudrina says it’s hard to predict whether Viktor Yanukovych’s election as president of Ukraine will lead to a change in the country’s immigration policies, possibly making it harder for Russians to receive asylum.

  2. Global jihad creeping into Russia’s insurgency

    In February Russia’s most wanted guerrilla, Chechen-born Doku Umarov, vowed on Islamist websites to spread his attacks from the Muslim-dominated North Caucasus into the nation’s heartland, wreaking havoc through jihad.

    His pledge follows escalating violence in the form of shootings and suicide bombs targeting authorities over the last year in the mountainous North Caucasus — particularly Chechnya, site of two separatist wars since the mid-1990s, and the provinces flanking it, Ingushetia and Dagestan.

    Regional Muslim leaders and rebels revile each other as blasphemous and criminal. But after years of the Soviet Union suppressing religion, both welcome a Muslim revival that has brought elaborate new mosques, government-sponsored hajj trips to Mecca and a bubbling interest in Arabic.

    Alexander Cherkasov, who has closely followed the North Caucasus for 15 years for rights group Memorial, said whereas in the past rebels wanted freedom from Russia, a struggle that dates back over 200 years, now they are influenced by jihadism, a global fight against alleged enemies of Islam.

    • Over the last two years, deaths due to violent incidents have shot up dramatically in the North Caucasus, from just over 40 in January 2008 to 140 in August 2009, according to a study by Washington’s Centre for Strategic and International Studies.

      There is now alarm that Islamist extremism could spread to other parts of Russia, home to around 20 million Muslims, more than half of whom live outside the North Caucasus.

      Paul Quinn-Judge, from the International Crisis Group, warned that the violence could indeed spread: “The guerrillas are trying to extend the war to Russia proper.”

      • Police Chief Among 16 Dead In North Caucasus Violence

        At least six insurgents and five Russian troops were killed in gun battles in the mountains of Chechnya, while five people were killed in attacks in Makhachkala, capital of neighboring Dagestan, officials said.

        Near-daily attacks in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Daghestan, mostly targeting law enforcement and government officials, have alarmed the Kremlin in recent months.

        President Dmitry Medvedev has called the violence Russia’s biggest domestic political problem and last month appointed a businessman as his envoy to the region to tackle underlying causes such as unemployment and corruption.

        City police chief Akhmed Magomedov was killed along with his driver and two bodyguards when gunmen opened fire on his car in Makhachkala. He died on the way to hospital, said police spokesman Mark Tolchinsky.

        The head of a police counterterrorism department in one of Daghestan’s districts was killed earlier in the day when a bomb planted beneath his car exploded, the federal Investigative Committee said.

        In neighboring Chechnya, the scene of two devastating 1990s wars, forces controlled by Moscow-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov battled rebels in the forested Caucasus Mountain foothills southwest of the capital, Grozny.

  3. And the Mission Accomplished inside Chechnya:

    March 3 was the 320th day after cancellation in the Chechen Republic of the longstanding counterterrorist operation (CTO) regime. From that moment on, the casualty rate as a result of the armed opposition of the underground against power agencies in Chechnya has reached 292 persons, in fact twice the figure of the same period prior to the CTO cancellation, when 154 persons were lost.

    The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that the CTO regime was lifted in Chechnya on April 16, 2009. One of the reasons for this step was reported to be stabilization of the situation in the republic. However, the analysis of the events in Chechnya after CTO cancellation shows a noticeable growth in the number of murders, terror acts, armed attacks and kidnappings, committed in the region, as compared with the time when the CTO regime was in force.

    Losses among civilians after cancellation of the CTO regime are also higher than before it. However, recently these figures tend to gradually go down. For example, in the last two months this sad statistics was not updated, probably also because such incidents are not always made known to the public.

  4. When about a year ago President Dmitry Medvedev suddenly began to characterize North Caucasus terrorism as one of Russia’s main problems, one that still remained to be solved, it almost seemed like an anti-Putin rebellion. For many years, Medvedev’s predecessor had claimed credit for the pacification of Chechnya and tried to convince Russian public opinion that by the use of strong-arm tactics he had been able to avert a mortal threat to Russia’s entire future.

    Medvedev’s statements seemed to contradict Putin’s rhetoric, and so they sounded almost revolutionary. It gradually became clear that for Medvedev the North Caucasus was a subject of special concern. This prompted him to create a new North Caucasus District, and he established the post of special envoy at a ministerial level. The appointee to the post, ex-Krasnoyarsk governor Alexander Khloponin, has allegedly received extensive powers. All of this looks like a serious bid by Medvedev to provide his own resolution of the North Caucasus situation, either in rivalry with Putin or in direct opposition to him.

    Last week some Russian analysts drew attention to an address Medvedev delivered at an unveiling ceremony for the new building of the Kabardino-Balkarian branch of the FSB in Nalchik on February 27. Although the speech devoted only a few lines to the armed insurgency, it gave us some idea of his approach to the problem. In the address, extremism is called a “cancer”, a deadly disease for which no cure has yet been discovered. Since the disease appears to have swept the entire region, the prospects for the future do not look particularly bright.

    No one can accuse Vladimir Putin of making empty threats. His promise to “flush the extremists down the toilet” has been fulfilled a hundred times, if not more. But if his recent words are anything to go by, the new President appears less certain of a positive outcome.

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