News / Europe

Analysts Concerned Over Impact of Closer US-Russia Anti-Terrorism Cooperation on Caucasus

Closer US-Russia Anti-Terrorism Cooperation Could Hamper Democracy in North Caucasusi
May 03, 2013 8:28 PM
Whether the Boston Marathon bombing suspects acted alone or were involved with extremist groups in the North Caucasus region of Russia, it has brought new attention to terrorism in that war-torn part of the world. VOA’s Brian Padden reports both the U.S. and Russia recognize the need to increase security and intelligence cooperation, but there is concern that the price of cooperation may be accepting Russia’s heavy-handed tactics and abuses.
Brian Padden
Whether the Boston Marathon bombing suspects acted alone or were involved with extremist groups in the North Caucasus region of Russia, it has brought new attention to terrorism in that war-torn part of the world. The U.S. and Russia recognize the need to increase security and intelligence cooperation, but there is concern that the price of cooperation may be accepting Russia’s heavy-handed tactics and abuses.

In the 1990s, Russian security forces killed tens of thousands of Chechens and displaced hundreds of thousands more to end two separatist wars for independence, which Russia labeled terrorism. Both sides have been accused of committing serious human rights abuses, including the killing of civilians.

Ali Tepsurkaev, a Chechen refugee now living in the U.S. says he and his brother, a journalist, were targeted by a Russian paramilitary group. 

“My brother got [it] worse, I would say. He had a few bullets in the stomach, gunfire. And, as I said, we weren’t able to leave the village at night, especially, so he pretty much bleed [bled] out in my hands and died there,” he said.

Chechnya has since stabilized under a dictatorship closely allied with Russia. But Andrew Kuchins, a Russia analyst with Center for Strategic and International Studies, says in part because of the brutal crackdown on dissent, opposition groups in that region have become more extremist. 

“Many of the Chechens who initially were nationalists, some of them had become quite radicalized and identified themselves more as Islamists,” he said.

In the last decade Chechen Islamist rebels took hundreds of Russians hostage, first in Moscow at a theater in 2002, and then in 2004 seizing a school full of children in the North Ossetia region. Russian security troops used deadly force to end these sieges, but many civilians were killed in the process. 

Journalism professor Nicholas Daniloff, at Northeastern University in Boston, has been instrumental in helping Chechen dissidents find asylum in America.

He says before it became known that the Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev were ethnic Chechens, U.S. anti-terrorism cooperation with Russia had been tempered by concerns over human rights abuses and the suppression of legitimate opposition groups. Now, he worries that any independence movements in Chechnya and the North Caucasus will lose public support.

“And what has happened now with the Tsarnaev brothers is that they have revived all those negative feelings about the Chechens, and it will be a very long time, I think, before the general population forgets or at least comes to understand better what the situation is,” said Daniloff.

While the Boston bombings have highlighted the need for closer anti-terrorism cooperation between the U.S. and Russia, Daniloff hopes it will not come at the expense of support for democracy in the region.

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Comment Sorting
by: Anonymous
May 04, 2013 10:44 PM
Chechen had that independence for a few years after the first war with Moscow. It didn't serve them very well as they turned their country into muslim radical breeding ground, people's kidnappings became state business. And then they started a holy war to create great chechen pan islamic state which would include a bit of other republics of russian federation.
Not a very good plan, was it?
I think Chechen should be independent if they want, but how to achieve that without creating another taliban like goverment?
In Response

by: CHRIS from: us
May 19, 2013 12:45 AM
Chechnya has never been truly independent even in those three years of truce. It was a victim to Russian air blockade and Russian Secret Service meddling into Chechnya's internal affairs. Russia sponsored kidnapping and in many cases encouraged it in Chechnya through their agents in Chechnya, and by lavishly rewarding them with cash. The clandestine work of Russian Secret Service was directed at damaging the reputation of Chechens as noble and valiant freedom fighters. The reputation they earned in the first war by releasing hundreds of Russian POWs and treating them humanely. Russian secret service blew up their own apartment building in Moscow and other towns of Russia to blame Chechens and launch a new war. (watch on youtube: Assassination of Russia). The campaign to discredit Chechens has now been effectively moved to the US as I really doubt that Russians would let Tsarnaev in and out of Russia without messing with him, The people (Russian rogue wahabies) who might have brainwashed him in Dagestan to do what he did in Boston will be conveniently killed in a Russian operation. There is more than meets the eye in the Boston marathon bombing and I hope the US will not fall for KGB style tricks.

by: Gennady from: Russia, Volga Region
May 03, 2013 8:41 PM
Professor Daniloff is absolutely right. With his direct involvement in two wars against freedom-loving people of Chechnya, his enchantment by J. Stalin (viewed by Chechens as a villain), Mr Putin will never be forgiven by Chechens and his collaborators. It would be detrimental for the USA’s image abroad to get involved in supporting heavy-handed tactics of rooting out democracy dreams of Chechen people at the expense of loosely defined antiterrorism fight. Motives of Tsarnayev brothers stay somewhat unclear as they may have been falsely associated with Chechen separatists.
In Response

by: serge from: london
May 04, 2013 9:42 AM
There are plenty of Caucasus time-ticking kamikaze in USA, it's up to USA to cooperate with Russians.

Don't forget that Tsarnaev went to Russia to learn some tricks or Allah only knows what his business was there, but he could go anywhere in middle east for that purpose.

But most revealing is, he did not bother any more with Chechnya and Russia, there is a new playground and that is USA.
Good LUCK to the YANKS.
Only TIME will reveal if it is true!

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