Pro-Moscow Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has begun 2016 by picking fights with Russia’s opposition. Although they see it as a sign of his political strength, the new row reveals his weakness: Kadyrov is anxious to get renewed political and economic support from the Kremlin for Chechnya’s “special status.”
The Russian authorities have been reluctant to admit that an attack in southern Dagestan on the eve of New Year was the work of Islamic State. The organization is making a bid to play a role in the North Caucasus.
Russia’s official Muslim establishment blames the West for the rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State and refuses to admit that radical Islam has a real social base, ignoring the radicalization of many ordinary Muslims in Russia and Central Asia.
Despite his harsh rhetoric, Kadyrov now takes a pragmatic view of the Islamic State’s influence on the situation in Chechnya and is committing himself to “exorcise” would-be recruits or returnees from the Middle East rather than merely destroying them.
Many people are trying to rewrite the history of the 2008 Georgia-Russia War in the light of the Ukraine crisis. The EU’s report on the war is still a useful baseline and a reminder of how different the two conflicts are.