October 13, 2014

let me bore you rigid with the new great game

Niqnaq

The New Great Game Round-Up #70
Christoph Germann, Oct 12 2014


After nearly four years of negotiations, Euia und Kazakhstan finally agreed on a new enhanced Partnership and Cooperation Agreement (PCA) during this week’s visit to Brussels by Kazakh Pres Nazarbayev. The agreement, which is expected to be signed next year, “aims to boost cooperation in around 30 policy areas including trade and foreign and security policy.” Given that the PCA is a far weaker deal than the infamous Euian Association Agreement and that the Kazakh negotiators had been “very careful that the agreement respects their country’s commitments to the Customs Union and the Eurasian Economic Union,” the Kremlin won’t get worked up over the agreement. With the PCA negotiations concluded, Nazarbayev travelled to Minsk to attend summits of the Commonwealth of Independent States, the Eurasian Economic Community and, most importantly, the Eurasian Economic Union, which welcomed a new member:
Armenia Joins Eurasian Union
After months of delay, Armenia formally joined the Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) of Russia, Belarus and Kazakhstan on Friday, drawing praise from Putin. Pres Sarkisian signed a corresponding accession treaty with Putin, Pres Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan and Pres Lukashenko of Belarus at a summit of the Russian-led bloc held in Minsk. Speaking at the gathering, both Putin and Sarkisian expressed hope that the treaty will be ratified by the parliaments of the EEU’s three member states by the end of this year. The Armenian president said his country should be able to “start working from Jan 1” as a full-fledged member of an alliance which critics fear will restore Russian hegemony over much of the former Soviet Union.
Kyrgyzstan’s Pres Atambaev expressed hope that his country would also join the organization by year’s end. The Kyrgyz government had approved a roadmap for joining the EEU just before the summit. Neighboring Tajikistan is still considering the offer and doesn’t rule joining the economic bloc as well. Tajik Pres Rahmon said during the talks in the Belarusian capital that Dushanbe is currently analyzing the EEU legal documents. While Kyrgyzstan has decided to cast its lot with Russia, the Tajik authorities are not yet fully convinced of this idea. Lately, some people in Tajikistan have cast doubt on Russia’s intentions or abilities to fulfill its obligations with regard to the promised economic and military aid but Moscow is doing its best to assure Dushanbe that Russia will follow up its words with deeds:
Russia Promises Tajikistan “Armageddon,” Polite People
Russia will build a new military training facility in southern Tajikistan to help the two countries carry out drills together, a Russian military official has said. Few details were given about the new facility other than the name, which certainly makes a statement: “Armageddon”. “Russian soldiers will help their Tajikistani colleagues in setting up a new polygon, Armageddon, in the Khatlon province for joint training of military units of the two countries,” said a spokesman for Russia’s Central Military District.
With reference to the immensely popular ‘polite people’ who protected Crimea after the coup d’état in Kiev, he added that the Tajik language classes that Russian soldiers are going to take “are intended to form and strengthen the image of ‘polite people’ among soldiers of the Central Military District.” A few weeks ago, two Russian soldiers were accused of murdering a Tajik taxi driver and the Russian military is now trying to prevent any further incidents, which could upset the host country. Russia made this announcement during the recent drills of the 201st Russian military base in Tajikistan:
Russian Military Holds ‘Antiterror’ Drills In Tajikistan
Russian forces based in Tajikistan are holding military drills near the Central Asian nation’s capital, Dushanbe. A spokesman for Russia’s Central Military District, Yaroslav Roshchupkin, says the maneuvers started on the Lyaur training ground on Oct 6. He said more than 1,000 servicemen and 300 pieces of military hardware from Russia’s 201st military base, which is located in Tajikistan, are practicing to ward off possible attacks by “international terrorists.”
Tajikistan shares a long border with Afghanistan and Russia has pledged to support the Central Asian state in dealing with a possible spillover of violence from Afghanistan. Other countries in the region have also offered to provide Tajikistan with military aid to bolster the border with Afghanistan. Tajikistan has already received aid from Belarus as well as from Armenia and Tajik leader Rahmon used the meetings in Minsk to thank the two countries for their assistance. The increasing violence in northern Afghanistan doesn’t bode well for Tajikistan and it is of little help that the Tajik regime is more or less turning a blind eye to the recruitment of Tajik fighters for the war in Syria. But instead of addressing these issue and going after real extremists, the Tajik authorities are busy stifling any sign of dissent and going after “extremist” opposition groups:
Tajik Opposition Group Banned As Extremist
Tajikistan’s Supreme Court has banned the opposition organization Group 24. The Oct 9 decision followed growing government pressure on the opposition group after it used the Internet to call for street protests in the capital, Dushanbe, on Oct 10. Supreme Court judge Salomat Hakimova ruled that Group 24, which is led by fugitive Tajik businessman Umarali Quvatov, is “extremist” and therefore is banned in Tajikistan.
While the Tajik authorities were going after the “extremists” from Group 24, the arguably more dangerous extremists from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) made an interesting announcement, which could affect Tajikistan as well. According to an Uzbek law enforcement official, IMU head Usman Ghazi confirmed that the group has joined ISIS. In recent months, the IMU had been fighting alongside the Pakistani Taliban (TTP). For example, the Jinnah International Airport attack in June and the Quetta airbase attacks in August were the result of joint TTP-IMU operations. Last week, some media reports alleged that the Pakistani Taliban had also pledged support to ISIS but the group lost no time in denying these reports and reaffirmed that they have declared allegiance only to Mullah Omar. Up until now, the IMU has not issued any denial and the Uzbek authorities claim to have “operational video and audio information about IMU’s support and participation in joint military actions on the side of ISIS units.” Uzbek security officials and analysts named, among others, the current financial hardship of the IMU as a key motive for the decision to join forces with ISIS:
Helplessness forces IMU to call itself an ISIL ‘partner’
A recent expression of Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU) support for ISIL betrays the IMU’s weakness, analysts are saying. The IMU lost support in Afghanistan as its brutality leads to civilian suffering, the Uzbek National Security Service (SNB) says. Now the IMU reportedly is eyeing northern Afghanistan, where most of that country’s ethnic Uzbek minority lives. “IMU militants were forced to do this because donations had dried up,” Tashkent political analyst Linara Yuldasheva said. “They’re essentially leaderless, and they’re looking for someone to cling to. But this alliance can’t guarantee them any more power.”
Although Pakistan’s Operation Zarb-e-Azb is not anything like as successful as the Pakistani military claims, the military offensive has at least forced IMU fighters and other insurgents in the Pakistani tribal areas to temporarily leave their hideouts and seek shelter in Afghanistan or elsewhere. Northern Afghanistan has long been a safe haven for the IMU, regardless of whether troops of the NATO-led security mission were stationed there or not. Both the IMU and the Taliban are now trying to exploit the ISAF drawdown and conquer even more territory. ISIS is also looking to expand its activities in Afghanistan but the group seems to have a hard time deciding on its next target. If ISIS leader Tarkhan Batirashvili aka Omar al-Shishani gets his will, the next target won’t be Central Asia or China but rather Russia:
How Islamic State Grooms Chechen Fighters Against Putin
When the ISIS commander known as “Omar the Chechen” called to tell his father they’d routed the Iraqi army and taken the city of Mosul, he added a stark message: Russia would be next. “He said ‘don’t worry dad, I’ll come home and show the Russians,’” Temur Batirashvili said from his home in Georgia’s Pankisi Gorge, on the border with the Russian region of Chechnya. “I have many thousands following me now and I’ll get more. We’ll have our revenge against Russia.” Al-Shishani is the tactical mastermind behind ISIS’ swift military gains on the ground in Iraq’s Anbar province, west of Baghdad, including an encirclement in which his forces killed as many as 500 Iraqi troops and captured 180 more near Fallujah, according to David Gartenstein-Ross if the Washington-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
Given that Gartenstein-Ross is praising the “brilliant tactical maneuvers” of the “exceptional field commander” Batirashvili, it is probably a good idea to take a closer look at the suspicious background of the Georgian ISIS commander. As mentioned two weeks ago, several Jihadis from the Pankisi Gorge have left the Caucasus to follow Batirashvili’s lead, and dozens of Georgian citizens are now fighting for ISIS. Fighters from the Caucasus are the backbone of the mercenary army. Therefore, the Russian authorities won’t be casual about Batirashvili’s threat. The recent terrorist attack in Chechnya served as a stark reminder that the foreign-backed North Caucasus insurgency continues to pose a threat to Russia. One day after the suicide bombing in Chechnya, Russian security forces prevented a similar attack in the neighboring republic of Dagestan, which has become the hotbed of terrorism in Russia:
170 kg of explosives destroyed in Russia’s Dagestan
Russian security forces have prevented a series of potentially “resonant” terrorist attacks, destroying almost 170 kg of explosives in the southern Republic of Dagestan. Two policemen and a militant were killed in the operation. The militant was preliminarily identified as Alidibir Asudinov, a bomb expert and an “active member” of the so-called Kizilyurt gang, who was on the federal wanted list for terrorist crimes. According to the Anti-Terror Committee, the gang “planned a series of resonant terrorist attacks” in the Republic of Dagestan.
Alidibir Asudinov reportedly recently returned from Syria, where had studied explosives, further highlighting the Syria-North Caucasus connection. When ForeignPolicy.com broke the story of Georgia’s offer to host a training camp for “moderate Syrian rebels,” Russia was understandably alarmed. The subsequent denials from Tbilisi have failed to reassure the Kremlinm and NATO’s other activities in Georgia cause additional tensions between the two neighbouring countries. NATO compensated the Georgian government with a ‘substantive package’ for the disappointment of having been denied a NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) at the summit in Wales. Among other things, this package includes a military training center for NATO members and partners in Georgia. Moscow tried this week once again to make its position on this issue clear to Tbilisi:
NATO Presence in Georgia Could Threaten Stability in Caucasus: Russia
The placement of military infrastructure in Georgia in the interests of NATO would pose a threat to stability in the Caucasus region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Wednesday. “The Russian side has expressed concern over rumors circulated by Georgian media about plans to place elements of NATO-linked infrastructure in Georgia,” the Russian ministry said in a statement. “Such actions would threaten the existing stability in South Caucasus,” the statement reads.
The warning fell on deaf ears in Georgia. Georgian Minister on European and Euro-Atlantic Integration Petriashvili countered that the closure of Russian bases in Georgia (Abkhazia and South Ossetia) and Moldova (Transnistria) and the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Ukraine would be a better way of ensuring stability and security in the region. Georgian Defense Minister Alasania took the same line, emphasizing that Georgia will proceed with its integration into NATO:
NATO infrastructure in Georgia surely to be created – Ministry of Defence
NATO infrastructure in Georgia will surely be created, Georgian Defence Minister Alasania said, commenting on the statement of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia. “I would like to state that the infrastructure of NATO in Georgia will be created,” the minister said. “It is an agreement reached at the summit. NATO-Georgia package is aimed at creation of an alliance infrastructure in our country, conduction of joint military exercises. This will increase both the constraint of the aggression, which comes from Russia, and our defence.”
Just recently, Lithuanian Defense Minister Olekas visited Georgia to discuss with Alasania and other top Georgian officials the idea of joint military exercises. The two post-Soviet states agreed to conduct joint drills within the framework of the NATO cooperation program in the future and after his meeting with Olekas, Alasania announced that Georgia looks set to increase its defense budget next year. But although Georgia is doing its best to expedite the military build-up in accordance with Washington’s plans, the Georgian leadership seems to have a hard time understanding why Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia doesn’t show any interest in Tbilisi’s “reconciliation efforts”:
Breakaway Abkhazia Wants to Break Away Further
In a move that many Georgians believe bodes ill for their remaining links with breakaway Abkhazia, the region’s new de facto leader, Raul Khajimba, has stated he wants to eliminate all crossing points but one into Georgian-controlled territory. “The national border with Georgia on the Enguri River will be reinforced,” RIA Novosti quoted Khajimba as saying in reference to what most of the rest of the world sees as an administrative boundary line between Abkhazia and the Tbilisi-controlled region of Samegrelo. “There should be only one checkpoint for reasons of national security,” Khajimba told an assembly of his party, the Forum of People’s Unity of Abkhazia.
Since we missed last week’s episode, here it is:
The New Great Game Round-Up #69
Christoph Germann, Oct 6 2014

At the beginning of this week, the presidents of the five Caspian littoral states gathered in the Russian city of Astrakhan to attend the fourth Caspian Summit. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the question of how the Caspian shelf should be divided has been disputed, and although Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Russia and Turkmenistan made some progress at the recent summit, they remain divided on this key issue. While Putin and his Kazakh counterpart Nazarbajev were talking about a “breakthrough”, Turkmenistan’s leader Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow reminded everyone of the disagreements when he reiterated that “Turkmenistan believes that the construction of pipelines under the Caspian Sea is the sovereign right of the states through whose section of the seafloor they pass.” Berdimuhamedow was of course referring to the construction of the Trans-Caspian Gas Pipeline, which is vehemently opposed by Russia and Iran. Moscow and Tehran will have a hard time convincing Berdimuhamedow and Azerbaijani leader Ilham Aliyev to give up on this pipe dream, but they accomplished another important objective in Astrakhan:
Russia and Iran Lock NATO Out of Caspian Sea
Iran and Russia have built unanimous consensus among the Caspian states, which also feature Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, over the inadmissibility of a foreign military presence in the Caspian Sea, ruling out any future possible deployment of NATO forces in the basin. A political declaration signed by the presidents of the five Caspian states at the IV Caspian Summit held in Astrakhan, Russia, on Sep 29, “sets out a fundamental principle for guaranteeing stability and security, namely, that only the Caspian littoral states have the right to have their armed forces present on the Caspian,” according to a statement by Putin in the wake of the summit.
Especially Azerbaijan, close Usaian ally and NATO proxy, had long resisted any notion of formally banning external forces from the Caspian. After Baku had finally given in to pressure from Moscow and Tehran, Usaia and Azerbaijan lost no time in pushing back against the Caspian Five joint statement. The Aliyev regime downplayed the statement and the Usaian State Dept said it doesn’t intend to change anything about its military cooperation with Baku. So it remains to be seen how much this declaration is actually worth. Usaia and Azerbaijan maintain very close ties. Last week, Azerbaijan Airlines successfully inaugurated its first direct flight to Usaia, marking “the culmination of several years of close cooperation” between the two countries. As previously discussed, Baku relies on the Gülen movement to remind Usaian Congress critturs of Azerbaijan’s importance, and Hizmet’s promotional work for the Aliyev regime has not been affected by Azerbaijan’s “crackdown” on the CIA-backed movement:
Azerbaijan: Wary of Breaking Ties with Gülen in Usaia?
Azerbaijan’s recent crackdown on institutions and individuals allegedly linked to the influential Muslim cleric Fethullah Gülen may not have halted promotional work by Gülen-associated organizations in Usaia for the Azerbaijani government. But why the Gülen movement would continue to promote Azerbaijani causes in Usaia despite the takeover of Gülen-associated educational operations in Azerbaijan remains unclear. As yet, small and mid-size Turkish businesses in Azerbaijan identified by researchers as run by Gülen sympathizers do not appear to have been similarly targeted.
This demonstrates once again that there was no real crackdown on the Gülen movement in Azerbaijan. SOCAR, the state-owned oil and natural gas corporation of Azerbaijan, which works hand in hand with Hizmet, is reportedly already trying to reopen the Gülen schools in the country after they had been placed under SOCAR’s control and eventually closed down a few months ago due to pressure from Erdogan. Aliyev doesn’t want to disgruntle either his close ally Erdogan or Gülen’s puppeteers in Langley but, currently, he is probably more concerned about what his friends in Langley and Washington think of him. The crackdown on the Usaia-backed Azerbaijani opposition has not gone unnoticed in Usaia. Some people are even calling for sanctions on Baku. Last week, Obama criticized Azerbaijan’s crackdown on NGOs, and while Obama was trying to pronounce the name “Azerbaijan”, the Azerbaijani authorities were trying to divert attention from the fact that they have made more politically motivated arrests this year than ever before by arresting a few actual criminals:
Azerbaijan Arrests Alleged ISIS and Other Islamic Fighters
The arrest of 26 Azerbaijanis for allegedly joining armed Islamic groups in Syria and the wider region may help Azerbaijan place its strategic importance to Usaia above criticism of its growing autocratic reputation. The Sep 23 detentions mark the country’s largest operation against alleged Islamic extremist fighters since reports began to circulate over the past year about a steady flow of recruits from Azerbaijan for the uprising against Assad. Azerbaijan’s Ministry of National Security said that the detainees have joined several paramilitary groups in Pakistan, Iraq and Syria. Some were alleged members of Azeri Jamaaty, a jihad group in Syria made up of Azerbaijani nationals. The arrests were reported on the same day that Obama mentioned Azerbaijan among the countries notorious for crackdowns on civil society.
Given that there is no shortage of Azerbaijani veterans of the Syrian conflict, the Azerbaijani authorities could probably conduct more operations like this if they wanted to, but Baku is doing its best to support NATO’s war against Syria and prefers to go after dissidents. The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) recently called on the Aliyev regime to release the jailed civil society activists and, much to the dismay of Baku, honored one of them, Anar Mammadli, with the Vaclav Havel prize for civil society activism. Ali Hasanov, a key aide to Aliyev, immediately condemned this “outside pressure on an independent state.” The mounting criticism is not having the intended effect, and seems to encourage the Azerbaijani authorities to come up with new police state measures and to ignore the critics:
Azerbaijan Questions its Future with “Failed and Unfortunate” Euronest Parliamentary Assembly
Azerbaijan has branded the Euronest Parliamentary Assembly a “failed and unfortunate initiative” and has challenged its fellow member states to explain why it should remain a member. The Chairman of the Azerbaijani Delegation to the Euronest PA, Elkhan Suleymanov, has written to his colleagues as a “last resort” telling them that the body, constituted in 2011, is now “bogged down by indecision, platitudes and double standards.” Azerbaijan was last week angered by a European Parliament motion calling for the release of activist Leyla Yunus, who is presently embroiled in a criminal case involving the alleged embezzlement of tens of thousands of euros from a string of NGOs with which she was involved with in Azerbaijan.
Neighboring Georgia is facing criticism from Europe as well. Georgia’s efforts to hold former Pres Saakashvili accountable for some of his crimes are not met with approval in most European capitals, where a few equally corrupt and criminal individuals hold a protecting hand over their friend Saakashvili. Therefore, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe criticized not only Azerbaijan’s crackdown on civil society activists, but also Georgia’s “political prosecution” of members of the previous government. During his time in office, Saakashvili went to great pains to please his friends in the West, first and foremost his “friends” in Washington, and he is now reaping the benefits of his work. At least that was Saakashvili’s plan, but his friends in Washington have apparently other plans:
Saakashvili denied business visa in Usaia
Usaia has denied a business visa to Georgia’s ex-Pres Saakashvili, Georgian Alia newspaper reported on Sep 30, citing Saakashvili’s United National Movement party. “The veracity of the information will soon be cleared. Supporters of the ex-president’s party are disappointed. The Usaian political elite is disillusioned with Saakashvili, he has, in fact, no support at the White House anymore,” the paper wrote. Saakahsvili lives in his uncle’s house in one of the skyscrapers in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg district. Saakashvili recently hosted the ex-DCI Petraeus at his house, and plans to meet with the former French Pres Sarkozy.
Perhaps, Saakashvili should consider a move to France to support the comeback of his friend Sarkozy. Returning to Georgia is not an option. Although there are still some Saakashvili supporters who are willing to take a hit for their former president, Saakashvili’s return to his home country would most likely end in jail. The criminal charges against him keep piling up with no end in sight. Georgian officials are now wondering how Saakashvili managed to amass a fortune of between $200m and $300m, and even worse, the exhumation of Saakashvili’s prime minister is going ahead:
Georgia Orders Zhvania Exhumed
A prosecutor in the former Soviet republic of Georgia has ordered the body of the late prime minister Zurab Zhvania to be exhumed, nearly a decade after his death in murky circumstances. Zhvania was a top leader of the Rose Revolution protests that paved the way for Mikhail Saakashvili to become president in 2004. Zhvania died a year later. An autopsy determined that he died of carbon monoxide poisoning due to a faulty space heater in the Tbilisi apartment where his body was found, but suspicions of foul play have persisted.
Predictably, AP failed to mention the noteworthy video with the title “Saakashvili killed Mr. zurab zhvania”, which was leaked in March of this year. The video shows photos from Zhvania’s autopsy and highlights suspicious marks on the dead bodies of both Zhvania and Raul Usupov, a young regional official who was found dead in the same Tbilisi apartment along with Zhvania. Therefore, the exhumation of Zhvania could spell more trouble for Saakashvili. The Georgian authorities are always good for a surprise. Usually it is an unpleasant surprise for the opposite side. The Russians can tell you a thing or two about it. Only recently, ForeignPolicy.com’s report about Georgia’s offer to host a training camp for “Syrian rebels” and other “anti-IS fighters from multiple countries” caused a stir in Russia:
Moscow Opposes Idea of Training Camp for Syrian Opposition Fighters in Georgia
The creation of a training camp for Syrian opposition fighters in Georgia will damage security in South Caucasus, the Russian Foreign Ministry said Thursday. “Moscow noted recent media reports about plans to create a Usaian training camp for Syrian opposition fighters in Georgia,” the ministry said in a statement. “Such a decision, if made by Tbilisi, will do serious damage to stability and security in South Caucasus.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry took note of Tbilisi’s subsequent denial of the training camp offer but reminded the Georgian authorities that Russia will follow this issue very closely. Battle-tested Chechen Jihadis are the driving force behind the battlefield successes of the ISIS mercenary army which is wreaking havoc in the Middle East, and Moscow fears that a similar force could be unleashed in the North Caucasus. As Veronika Krasheninnikova of Russia Today pointed out, there has been an “exceptional level of military and political activity in the South Caucasus” in recent months, with Georgia’s offer to host a training for “Syrian rebels” being the icing on the cake. According to Krasheninnikova, this indicates “that a second anti-Russian front is being created in the South Caucasus.” Something is brewing in the Caucasus, and those who were not convinced of the threat until fairly recently, most certainly changed their minds after the attack in Chechnya:
At least 5 police killed in suicide blast outside concert hall in Chechnya
At least five police officers have been killed and another three sustained injuries in Russia’s Republic of Chechnya as they attempted to detain a suspected suicide bomber. The young man detonated improvised explosive when police attempted to search him. The incident happened ahead of a concert dedicated to City Day in Grozny, which is home to over 280,000 people, most of them Chechens. According to the Internal Affairs Ministry, police forces noticed a suspicious man outside a concert hall. “Police officers who were manning metal detectors at the entrance of the concert hall noticed a suspicious young man. When the police officers decided to check the individual, the man blew himself up,” a local police officer told RIA Novosti.
Although the man did not succeed in perpetrating a devastating attack inside the concert hall, this incident sends a very strong message to the Russian authorities. For one thing, the attack occurred during Eid al-Adha and for another, it struck the capital of the relatively calm and stable Chechen Republic. In contrast to neighbouring Dagestan and other republics in Russia’s North Caucasus, which are still struggling to contain the violence, Chechnya had not seen any terrorist attacks in over a year, and Grozny has become the symbol of Russia’s victory over the foreign-backed insurgency. In a recent VoA article, Mike Eckel described the situation in Russia’s North Caucasus as follows:
After two wars waged by Russia since 1994, the North Caucasus has become relatively stable, free of all-out war and major terrorist attacks.
The suicide blast in Grozny indicates that this is going to change and the attack is not the only worrying sign in this regard:
Fears of Radicalization Among Muslim Youth Rising in Russia
There is an increasing risk of radicalization among Muslim youth in Russia, Kommersant reported on Wednesday. A large group of Muslim youths attacked a police bus on Sep 26, as the police arrested a man who drove into an officer after being told to move his car, parked in a no-parking zone, Kommersant reported. As a result of the riots, 30 people have been arrested, World Bulletin reported. “30 people were detained to prevent a breach of the peace and because they resisted police officers. A court imposed on them an administrative penalty and fine”, said Andrei Galiakberov, Chief of the Moscow Police Department, as quoted by World Bulletin.
The North Caucasus is of course not the only region in Russia which is vulnerable to Islamic extremism. Crimea’s Tatar population is currently experiencing first-hand how seriously the Russian authorities take this threat. Lately, a Crimean Tatar news channel was cautioned for broadcasting extremist content, and two Crimean Tatars were kidnapped under mysterious circumstances by unknown men in military uniforms. Members of the Crimean Tatar community have pressured the local authorities to launch an investigation into the abduction, but it would not be surprising if the Russian security services had something to do with it. The Russian authorities take no chances when it comes to the radicalization of the Tatar population, whether it concerns Crimea or other parts of Russia, and they spare no-one, not even the “grandmother of Tatar nationalism”:
Nationalist Sentenced for Urging Tatars to Oppose Moscow’s Crimea Annexation
A court in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan has handed down a one-year suspended sentence to a radical nationalist who had called for fellow Tatars in Crimea to oppose the Russian annexation of the peninsula, claiming violent persecution of Muslims in Russia. Fauziya Bairamova, 63, nicknamed the “Grandmother of Tatar nationalism” by Russian media for her decades-long radical stance, was also banned from changing her residence without informing the authorities, according to a city court verdict Thursday which she posted on her Facebook page.
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