Foreign Policy focused on Dagestan this past week, bringing attention to the conflict torn region. Most people in the States are unlikely to know Dagestan exists, much less about the insurgency raging there. It’s unsurprising that Russia keeps the conflict fairly quiet, and more surprising that analysts haven’t offered the increasingly violent federal offense in Russia as explanation (along with actions in separatist Chechnya) for Russia’s hesitancy/unwillingness to condemn Assad and call for his ouster from Syria.
Nemtsova reports that the insurgency there is now the largest in the Caucasus and that over 250 Russian police officers were killed in insurgency-related incidents last year. However, she cautions that the violence is becoming increasingly random, targeting civilians and pushing both men and women into the arms of militant groups as they watch their family members die. Most interesting was a recent women-only protest against Russian security services, demonstrating the ire of Muslim women at the loss of their husbands and sons, many of whom, the women claim, were not involved in the conflict.
UPI reported on 8 June 2012 that Kyzlar (a militant group in Dagestan) leader Rustam Gasanov was killed along with six other militants, including a woman who was reportedly assisting the combatants. Very little information is offered on the attack from English language Russian newswires.
Most disturbingly, Nemtsova states that even most Russians aren’t aware of this isolated insurgency within their own borders.