By Huseyn Aliyev
May 23, 2018, the CACI Analyst
Since December 2017, following the military defeat of the terrorist organization known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), several hundred Russian citizens, mostly from the North Caucasian republics of Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushetia, have been brought back to Russia from Syria and Iraq. The returnees are families of ISIS fighters from the North Caucasus. So far, authorities have detained and prosecuted many returnees upon their return to the North Caucasus. The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has masterminded the return of North Caucasus nationals from the Middle East, using the opportunity to boost his image as a regional leader.
By Nurlan Aliyev
May 21, 2018, the CACI Analyst
On March 16, Sputnik Azerbaijan published information on Azerbaijani participants of the international sport competition Football for Friendship, financed by Gazprom. On the same day, the vice-president of the Italian Senate Linda Lanzillotta, visiting Baku, stated that Russia is behind protests against the construction of the Italian segment of the TAP pipeline. This is one example of how Russia’s means for exercising soft and hard, if covert, power coexist in the former Soviet republics. Yet soft power influences receive decidedly less attention in reporting and discussion on Russia’s relations with these countries and Azerbaijan is an illustrative case in this regard.
By Huseyn Aliyev
May 14, 2018, the CACI Analyst
Since February 2018, Russian authorities have arrested several dozen top government officials on charges of large-scale financial fraud. Following a wave of elite arrests, the entire Dagestani government was dissolved on February 5. On the eve of the March presidential elections in Russia, the newly appointed head of the North Caucasus republic Vladimir Vasilyev, a native of Tatarstan, launched a sweeping anti-corruption campaign. The purge enabled the Kremlin to remove unreliable clans from power, enabling President Putin to ensure that the number of votes secured in Dagestan was among the highest in the North Caucasus.
By Slavomír Horák
April 30, 2018, the CACI Analyst
After the March 15 meeting of Central Asian leaders in Astana, analyses, news and reports increasingly use words such as “integration” or “new beginning” to describe political developments in Central Asia. Some Russian media have speculated in the beginning of the next phase of separation from Moscow. However, the “consultative meeting” in Astana should be understood in a completely different manner. The word “integration” reminds us of previous, less successful attempts at regional cooperation in Central Eurasia and so far, no comprehensive integrational concept has materialized. Yet, the Astana meeting was the first of its kind in many years and President Nazarbaev, summing up the results, underlined its informal character and even compared the format to the Visegrad group in Central Europe.
By Emil A. Souleimanov and Huseyn Aliyev
February 26, 2018, the CACI Analyst
In 2017, protest activity has grown across the North Caucasus, just as in Russia’s other regions, as shown in a recent report by the Committee of Civil Initiatives (CCI). Socio-economic factors have shaped this trend throughout Russia’s regions, yet in the multi-ethnic North Caucasus these are coupled with a sense of nationalism-driven political discrimination and exclusion. On the eve of the forthcoming Football Championship in Russia, and as war-hardened veterans are returning from Syria to their homeland, this trend may contribute to a worsening security situation in Russia.
The Central Asia-Caucasus Analyst is a biweekly publication of the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute & Silk Road Studies Program, a Joint Transatlantic Research and Policy Center affiliated with the American Foreign Policy Council, Washington DC., and the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. For 15 years, the Analyst has brought cutting edge analysis of the region geared toward a practitioner audience.