News / Europe

Chechen Militant Leader Vows 'Maximum Force' to Stop Sochi 2014

Screenshot from video posted on a pro-rebel Web site purports to show Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, March 2010 file photo.
Screenshot from video posted on a pro-rebel Web site purports to show Chechen militant leader Doku Umarov, March 2010 file photo.
Reuters
— Russian Islamist rebels urged followers on Wednesday to use "maximum force" to prevent President Vladimir Putin staging the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.
 
In an online video recorded in a forest, Doku Umarov said an order not to attack Russian targets outside the North Caucasus had been cancelled and likened holding the Games in the Black Sea city to performing "Satanic dances" on the graves of Muslims killed fighting Russian forces there in the 19th century.
 
Umarov sat wearing camouflage fatigues and a cap in front of a black jihadist flag, flanked by two fighters who, like him, were bearded. As he spoke, birds could be heard singing in the forest.
 
Sochi, which is due to host the Games next February, is a few hundred kilometers [miles] from the volatile and mountainous North Caucasus region in southern Russia where there is almost daily violence. But it was the homeland of ethnic Circassians until they were expelled in the 19th century.
 
Putin has promised tight security at the Games, on which Russia is spending more than $50 billion, and sees it as a chance to show the world what his nation can achieve.
 
"They [Russia] plan to hold the Olympics on the bones of our ancestors, on the bones of many, many dead Muslims, buried on the territory of our land on the Black Sea, and we as mujahedeen are obliged to not permit that, using any methods allowed us by the almighty Allah," Umarov said in the four-minute video on www.kavkazcenter.com.
 
"I call on you, every mujahid, either in Tatarstan, Bashkortostan or on the territory of the Caucasus to use maximum force on the path of Allah to disrupt this Satanic dancing on the bones of our ancestors," he said, referring to predominantly Muslim regions in Russia that are far from the North Caucasus.
 
The Kremlin declined comment on the video, the authenticity of which could not immediately be established. Umarov has, however, regularly used the Web site to send messages to the Islamic fighters he refers to as mujahedeen.
 
Russia's most wanted man, Umarov leads a group called the Caucasus Emirate which has taken responsibility for organizing many attacks, including suicide bombings which killed 37 people at a Moscow airport in 2011 and at least 40 people on the Moscow subway in 2010.
 
Putin expressed concern last year that violence involving Muslims could spread to Tatarstan, in central Russia, after the top Muslim official there was wounded in a bomb attack.
 
End of moratorium on attacks

In February 2012 Umarov ordered a moratorium on attacks on Russian targets outside the North Caucasus and called for a halt on attacks that would harm civilians, but made clear in the new video that this order had been rescinded.
 
The order was issued at the height of a protest movement against Putin's more than decade-long rule and before last year's presidential election, which Putin won.
 
But the protests have dwindled and Russia has killed a number of insurgency leaders including Umarov's right-hand man in the Ingushetia region.
 
The North Caucasus, a patchwork of mainly Muslim territories between the Black and Caspian Seas, is torn by political and religious differences, as well as bitterness over the past.
 
Many ethnic Circassians, an indigenous people of the North Caucasus, were killed or expelled by Russian Imperial soldiers in the 19th century in and around Krasnaya Polyana, the planned site of Olympic skiing events.
 
Putin has long taken a tough stance against violence in the region after two wars between the Russian army and Chechen separatists. In the second of those wars, from 1999 to 2000, Putin burnished his reputation as an uncompromising leader.
 
Wary of violence spilling over at the Games, Russia has stepped up cooperation with the United States over security since the Boston bombings, in which two ethnic Chechens are the main suspects. One spent time in the region before the bombings.
 
"Umarov is announcing this now to increase the Caucasus Emirate's visibility by using Sochi, which has attained international recognition before the Olympic Games," said an expert on the region, Mairbek Vatchagayev.
 
Analysts are divided over the Caucasus Emirate's ability to carry out a large-scale bomb attack on Sochi but Umarov has been under pressure from some of his supporters to repeal the moratorium on attacks outside the North Caucasus.
 
"There is enough time to try to plan a terrorist attack and to carry it out," Vatchagayev said.

You May Like

Reports of Mass Murder on Mediterranean Smuggler’s Boat

Boat sailed from Libya with 750 migrants aboard and arrived in Italy with 569 More

Video New Thailand Hotline Targets Misbehaving Monks

Officials say move aims to restore country’s image of Buddhism, tarnished by recent high profile scandals such as opulent lifestyle, drug and alcohol abuse, as well as child sex abuse More

Study: Dust from Sahara Helped Form Bahama Islands

What does the Sahara have in common with a Caribbean island? Quite a lot, researchers say More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train in Underwater Labi
X
George Putic
July 25, 2014 7:25 PM
In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Not Even Monks Spared From Thailand’s Junta-Backed Morality Push

With Thailand’s military government firmly in control after May’s bloodless coup, authorities are carrying out plans they say are aimed at restoring discipline, morality and patriotism to all Thais. The measures include a crackdown on illegal gambling, education reforms to promote students’ moral development, and a new 24-hour phone hotline for citizens to report misbehaving monks. Steve Sandford reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Virtual Program Teaches Farming Skills

In a fast-changing world beset by unpredictable climate conditions, farmers cannot afford to ignore new technology. Researchers in Australia are developing an online virtual world program to share information about climate change and more sustainable farming techniques for sugar cane growers. As VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports, the idea is to create a wider support network for farmers.
Video

Video Airline Expert: Missile will Show Signature on Debris

The debris field from Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 is spread over a 21-kilometer radius in eastern Ukraine. It is expected to take investigators months to sort through the airplane pieces to learn about the missile that brought down the jetliner and who fired it. VOAs Carolyn Presutti explains how this work will be done.
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

AppleAndroid