The families of suspected Islamist guerrillas in the North Caucasus have always faced harassment from Russian security forces. Now a shadowy vigilante group has started targeting them as well.
Though media attention is scarce, a guerrilla war taking place across the North Caucasus has ramped up. Killings are commonplace as Russia fights to retain control over the Islamist insurgency.
Mikael Storsjo provides web hosting in Finland for the Kavkaz Center, one of the most controversial Internet news agencies covering the Caucasus; it has been branded a terrorist propaganda organization by Russia.
A Russian ban on grain exports announced in August by Putin has provoked fear over rising wheat prices and food security. But when market forces trump state control, is the fear justified?
As a journalist in the North Caucasus refusing censorship, Yuri Bagrov was “treated like an enemy” and made an illegal immigrant in his homeland. Now, he is trying to survive as a refugee in the U.S.
Despite all of the dangers, Magomed Evloyev refused to shut down his website on the grounds that it was the only uncensored source of public information in his homeland, Ingushetia.
Zurab Markhiev believes that in the Caucasus a journalist must also be a human rights defender since censorship makes crime easy. This belief exiled him to Europe, where he is forced to hide.
Independent journalists in the North Caucasus often find that reporting is a life-threatening pursuit. Many have been forced to flee Russia and seek asylum elsewhere, while others have been murdered for their work.
Censorship and criminalization in the North Caucasus forced Valery Dzutsev, a former coordinator for the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR) to either “quit journalism or never return home.” He chose political asylum in the U.S. and cut ties with Russia.
Journalist Elena Maglevannaya dared to expose the torture of Chechen detainees in Russian prisons. As a result, she was sued for libel, attacked by neo-Nazis and threatened with institutionalization.
A profile of Natalia Estemirova, a Chechen journalist who paid with her life to expose human rights abuses in her homeland.
Brutal wars in Chechnya and now trouble in places such as Ossetia and Ingushetia have shown the world that ethnic conflict and Islamic separatism are seen as serious threats to Russia, even as it tries to regain some of the power it wielded during the Cold War.
But not all of Russia's Muslim republics are so restive. Welcome to sunny Tatarstan.
Produced by Jason Maloney & Zygmunt Dzieciolowski
Field Producer: Oleg Pavlov
Associate Producer: Aidar Galyautdinov