I have a new piece up at PBS.
Dagestan hasn’t had it as rough as Chechnya. The Russian army did not stage two separate, brutal offensives into its cities. Makhachkala has never faced the same devastation as Grozny, the Chechen capital declared by the United Nations in 2003 as the most destroyed city on Earth (a distinction repeated by Andrew Meier, who, in his haunting 2005 portrait of Russia, “Black Earth,” says Grozny’s fall was worse than Kabul’s, since it had so much farther to fall). But Dagestan has been the center of an increasingly violent explosion of violence in recent years.
Part of that explosion is because of Chechnya. Russia cleverly installed Ramzan Kadyrov — a former militia leader in the Second Chechen War who switched sides to fight for Moscow in 1999 — as president of the region in 2007. Since then, incidents of violence within Chechnya itself have leveled off — only to migrate east to Dagestan and west to Ingushetia and North Ossetia. The violence was pushed out of one Russian republic, making its neighbors worse off.
I go on to wonder what this might mean, as Russia steps up some counterterror policies in Daghestan. Where will it push the violence to next?
Update: RFE/RL has an excellent piece on the deteriorating situation in Daghestan as well:
More effective police action alone, however, is not the answer. Nor is Moscow prepared to take sole responsibility for turning the situation in Daghestan around, as Medvedev made clear when he told Magomedov peremptorily “You’re president, it’s up to you to continue what you’ve started.” …
The litany of complaints aired in Sochi last week substantiate the widely held perception that the Kremlin has no comprehensive strategy for tackling the problems that plague the North Caucasus as a whole, or the individual republics. Other analysts argued at the time of Khloponin’s appointment six months ago that even if such a plan existed, the firmly entrenched regional elites would fight tooth and nail to thwart its implementation.