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Story Publication logo June 8, 2011

Kabardino-Balkaria: A New Wave of Violence


A woman in Sernovodsk, Chechnya, holds a picture of her brother, allegedly killed by Russian security forces in 2004. Image by Tom Parfitt, Chechnya, 2004.

Stretching from the Black Sea to the Caspian, the North Caucasus region of southern Russia is best...

This republic, positioned at the centre of Russia's North Caucasus, briefly attracted international scrutiny in 2005 when scores of fundamentalist Muslim gunmen stormed the city, attacking law-enforcement buildings. At least 142 people perished in the raid.

A low level Islamist insurgency in the years that followed was not comparable to the greater bloodshed in Ingushetia, Chechnya and Dagestan – other Muslim republics gripped by guerrilla war to the east. However, the militants ramped up their activity in late 2010 and early 2011, assassinating a series of policemen, and civilians accused of idolatry.

The rebels claim they are persecuted by security forces for their belief in Salafism, a pious form of Islam.

Historical grievances in the North Caucasus also feed into wider discontent over lack of jobs, arrogant local authorities and rampant corruption. One node of pain is the memory of Joseph Stalin's deportation of four Caucasus nations to Central Asia at the end of the Second World War.

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