Coincidences never cease to surprise me. Last Friday I mentioned the work of Brookings analyst Fiona Hill on Afoe. Well today she writes in the FT (with Sara Mendelson) alerting us to the continuing problems of the North Caucasus and our continuing neglect (subscription only unfortunately).
This week, the one-year anniversary of the hostage siege and massacre of children and parents in the Beslan school gym is tinged with a specific sorrow; it could happen again. The political situation in Russia?s North Caucasus region is dangerously unstable but few outside the region are paying attention.
Beslan was an especially depraved example of what has spread well beyond Chechnya. Acts of intra-communal violence, brutal assassinations, explosions and armed clashes are the norm in places such as Dagestan and Ingushetia. Local politics is circumscribed by corruption, incompetence and a lack of interest in the wellbeing of ordinary people. Many regional leaders are running their fiefdoms into the ground. While some in the Russian government claim that the situation has ?normalised? (the Putin administration plans ?parliamentary elections? in Chechnya this November), a recently leaked document from the Kremlin?s own representative to the North Caucasus asserts that the situation is perilous.