News / Europe

Russia Wants Tourism, Not Terrorism, for Embattled Caucasus

Russia Wants Tourism, Not Terrorism, for Embattled Caucasusi
X
June 06, 2013 6:26 PM
Car bombs and shootings make Dagestan the leader in political violence in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus. VOA's James Brooke reports from Derbent, Russia, that looking to the long term, though, the Kremlin believes that tourism offers a way out for the impoverished North Caucasus.
James Brooke
Car bombs and shootings make Dagestan the leader in political violence in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus.

After Dagestan became known as the ancestral home of the two suspected Boston Marathon bombers, however, the world spotlight turned on this Muslim majority region - and Moscow started to take action.

Last week, in a surprise move, a military helicopter took to prison a man seen here as an untouchable warlord: Said Amirov, the mayor of Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala.

The Kremlin wants to pacify the North Caucasus before the Sochi Winter Olympic Games are held next February on the western edge of the Caucasus Mountains.

Tourist haven?

Looking to the long term, the Kremlin believes that tourism offers a way out for the impoverished North Caucasus.

The potential is clear here in Dagestan’s Derbent, Russia’s oldest and southernmost city.

For more than 1,500 years, the Derbent fortress controlled a narrow strip of land between the eastern edge of the North Caucasus and the Caspian Sea.
 
“The people that live in Derbent are really proud of our fortress. And we are waiting for tourists. Bring on the tourists. We’re all for it,” said Shakmarda Mardonov, who works in the fruit market below the fortress.
 
Mardonov and others remember the Soviet days, when a quarter-million tourists came here every year. Since then, the fortress became a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Violent reputation
 
Despite this honor, there are no tourists today for Abasu Shakalar Sanya, a city taxi driver.
 
“I said to my friends in Moscow to come down and see the sea and the fortress,” he said. “They said: 'No, they will shoot and kill us.' Have you heard anything like that here? No. It doesn’t happen here. We are friendly people. We love guests and tourists.”
 
A few blocks away stand the thick, low walls of the Dzhuma Mosque. Built in 734, it is the oldest mosque in Russia.
 
The mosque and the fortress are centerpieces for a project to bring one million tourists annually here by the end of this decade.

“We want more tourists and guests to come to Derbent," said Imam Magomedovich Yaraliev, mayor of Derbent and a former prosecutor. "We want to make friends and live peacefully. We want to develop our city.  We want to have one brotherhood of the people in Dagestan.”
 
In today’s Dagestan, the violence often seems endless. It is a flash in time, however, compared to the history witnessed by the ancient stone walls of the Derbent fortress.

Over the centuries, the fort changed hands from Persians to Arabs to Armenians to Mongols to Turks, until finally falling to Russians in 1813 - 200 years ago.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Yoshi from: Sapporo
June 06, 2013 9:58 PM
Why the mayor of Dagestan's capital was took to prion? Did he have something to do with Boston bombers? Thank you.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs