Showing posts tagged as "russia"

Showing posts tagged russia

18 Feb
Russia Backs Egyptian Military Ruler In Attempt To Eclipse U.S. Influence | Sophia Jones
In a high-profile meeting in Moscow this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his full-fledged support for Egypt’s military leader to run for president, a sign of yet another diplomatic tug of war between Russia and the United States in the region.
The nod of approval for Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi comes amid talks of a reported $2 billion Gulf-funded arms deal with Russia, as Egypt seemingly plays the United States and Russia off each other in a bid for aid. With Washington and Moscow battling for power in the Middle East, Egypt’s talks with Russia could further fuel U.S. foreign policy confusion.
FULL ARTICLE (World Post)
Photo: sierragoddess/flickr

Russia Backs Egyptian Military Ruler In Attempt To Eclipse U.S. Influence | Sophia Jones

In a high-profile meeting in Moscow this week, Russian President Vladimir Putin gave his full-fledged support for Egypt’s military leader to run for president, a sign of yet another diplomatic tug of war between Russia and the United States in the region.

The nod of approval for Field Marshal Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi comes amid talks of a reported $2 billion Gulf-funded arms deal with Russia, as Egypt seemingly plays the United States and Russia off each other in a bid for aid. With Washington and Moscow battling for power in the Middle East, Egypt’s talks with Russia could further fuel U.S. foreign policy confusion.

FULL ARTICLE (World Post)

Photo: sierragoddess/flickr

7 Feb
Sochi security clampdown could store up trouble | Tara McKelvey
Athletes from around the world will compete in Sochi, hoping for a gold medal. At the same time militant groups are making gains - with a boost in publicity because of the Games.
President Vladimir Putin is proud of the Winter Olympics - but not everybody in Russia shares his enthusiasm.
He has billed them as a showcase for the new Russia - and spent lavishly. A road and railway that was built in the area, for example, cost $8.7bn (£5.3bn).
For that amount workers could have paved the 31-mile (50-km) path in Louis Vuitton bags, according to Russia’s Esquire.
Mr Putin’s efforts to promote the Games are a boon for local builders, or at least corrupt local officials. They have also made Sochi a target for militants.
FULL ARTICLE (BBC News)
Photo: Val 202/flickr

Sochi security clampdown could store up trouble | Tara McKelvey

Athletes from around the world will compete in Sochi, hoping for a gold medal. At the same time militant groups are making gains - with a boost in publicity because of the Games.

President Vladimir Putin is proud of the Winter Olympics - but not everybody in Russia shares his enthusiasm.

He has billed them as a showcase for the new Russia - and spent lavishly. A road and railway that was built in the area, for example, cost $8.7bn (£5.3bn).

For that amount workers could have paved the 31-mile (50-km) path in Louis Vuitton bags, according to Russia’s Esquire.

Mr Putin’s efforts to promote the Games are a boon for local builders, or at least corrupt local officials. They have also made Sochi a target for militants.

FULL ARTICLE (BBC News)

Photo: Val 202/flickr

6 Feb
'Toothpaste Bomb' Fears Over Russia Flights | Katie Stallard
Terrorists could be trying to place explosives disguised as toothpaste on Russia-bound flights, the US Government has warned.
An intelligence official said information suggested terrorists were “specifically targeting flights to Russia” as the Winter Olympics get under way.
It is understood the toothpaste tubes could hold ingredients that could be used to make a bomb during a flight.
The official did not say whether any specific intelligence led to the warning.
Vladimir Putin has insisted Russia is ready to host the Winter Olympics as Sochi enters a state of virtual siege ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.
Islamist militants have vowed to stop the games by any means. 
Chechen warlord Doku Umarov has urged his followers to use “maximum force” to attack what he called “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors”.
The skiing and snowboarding events are being held in the Caucasus Mountains, Russia’s most volatile region.
FULL ARTICLE (Sky News)
Photo: rapidtravelchai/flickr

'Toothpaste Bomb' Fears Over Russia Flights | Katie Stallard

Terrorists could be trying to place explosives disguised as toothpaste on Russia-bound flights, the US Government has warned.

An intelligence official said information suggested terrorists were “specifically targeting flights to Russia” as the Winter Olympics get under way.

It is understood the toothpaste tubes could hold ingredients that could be used to make a bomb during a flight.

The official did not say whether any specific intelligence led to the warning.

Vladimir Putin has insisted Russia is ready to host the Winter Olympics as Sochi enters a state of virtual siege ahead of Friday’s opening ceremony.

Islamist militants have vowed to stop the games by any means. 

Chechen warlord Doku Umarov has urged his followers to use “maximum force” to attack what he called “satanic dances on the bones of our ancestors”.

The skiing and snowboarding events are being held in the Caucasus Mountains, Russia’s most volatile region.

FULL ARTICLE (Sky News)

Photo: rapidtravelchai/flickr

5 Feb
An Olympics in the Shadow of a War Zone | Steven Lee Myers
On Friday, exactly a week before the Olympics were set to open just 180 miles away, Russia’s security forces appeared on Makhov Street at 8:30 a.m. and cordoned off the area around a brick and stone house. One of the men inside called his father, who said it was the first he had heard from his son in 10 months.
“He said, ‘Papa, we’re surrounded,’ ” the father said. “ ‘I know they’re going to kill us.’ Then he said farewell.”
The Russians and the men inside exchanged gunfire, pausing only to allow a woman and two children to leave the house. By the time the shooting ended in the afternoon, four men inside were dead, according to official accounts. The Russians then blew up the house, leaving a bloodied pile of rubble and a crowd of sullen, angry neighbors.
For the first time in history, the Olympics are being held on the edge of a war zone. The conflict is one of the longest running in the world, a simmering, murky battle between increasingly radicalized militants who operate in the shadows of society and a security force that can be brutal, even when lethally effective.
The symbolic importance of the Games for Russia and for President Vladimir V. Putin has turned Sochi itself into a tantalizing target for Islamic terrorists who have vowed a wave of attacks to advance their goal of establishing an independent caliphate across the North Caucasus.
FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)
Photo: rapidtravelchai/flickr

An Olympics in the Shadow of a War Zone | Steven Lee Myers

On Friday, exactly a week before the Olympics were set to open just 180 miles away, Russia’s security forces appeared on Makhov Street at 8:30 a.m. and cordoned off the area around a brick and stone house. One of the men inside called his father, who said it was the first he had heard from his son in 10 months.

“He said, ‘Papa, we’re surrounded,’ ” the father said. “ ‘I know they’re going to kill us.’ Then he said farewell.”

The Russians and the men inside exchanged gunfire, pausing only to allow a woman and two children to leave the house. By the time the shooting ended in the afternoon, four men inside were dead, according to official accounts. The Russians then blew up the house, leaving a bloodied pile of rubble and a crowd of sullen, angry neighbors.

For the first time in history, the Olympics are being held on the edge of a war zone. The conflict is one of the longest running in the world, a simmering, murky battle between increasingly radicalized militants who operate in the shadows of society and a security force that can be brutal, even when lethally effective.

The symbolic importance of the Games for Russia and for President Vladimir V. Putin has turned Sochi itself into a tantalizing target for Islamic terrorists who have vowed a wave of attacks to advance their goal of establishing an independent caliphate across the North Caucasus.

FULL ARTICLE (New York Times)

Photo: rapidtravelchai/flickr

30 Jan
Too Far, Too Fast: Sochi, Tourism and Conflict in the Caucasus
Moscow/Brussels  |   30 Jan 2014
The recent bombings in the south of Russia could prove a precursor to more violence and instability in the Caucasus if Moscow does not abandon repression for political dialogue.
In its latest report, Too Far, Too Fast: Sochi, Tourism and Conflict in the Caucasus, the International Crisis Group explores the opportunities and dangers that the Sochi games and the North Caucasus Resorts project hold for the region’s security. While earlier efforts to engage moderate Salafis showed promise, President Vladimir Putin’s heavy-handed religious policy and security measures risk increasing tensions in the conflict-torn area. Recent attacks, including two in Volgograd, suggest that Islamist terrorists may try to strike across the country and embarrass Moscow during the Olympics, the preparations of which have been beset by allegations of abuses against the local populace. Beyond the immediate risk, they underline the urgent need to achieve a comprehensive political solution to the North Caucasus conflicts before rolling out fully an ambitious tourism project in republics that still have active insurgencies or have been seriously affected by conflict.
The report’s major findings and recommendations are:
To improve North Caucasus security during and after Sochi, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee should prevent human rights abuses and intimidation directed against moderate fundamentalists. It should also end collective punishment for insurgency-related crimes; integrate moderates into socio-economic life; facilitate Sufi-Salafi dialogue; and promote rehabilitation of ex-fighters.
To improve the reputation of the Winter Games, the authorities should guarantee fair compensation to Sochi residents whose homes were destroyed or demolished during the preparatory phase. The government also should investigate complaints of violations of rights by citizens and migrant workers and put an end to the harassment of peaceful activists.
The Olympics are a curtain raiser for an expensive and risky plan to develop tourism across the North Caucasus. This will only succeed if the communities involved are actively supportive and directly included in decision-making. In Dagestan, the Federation government should refrain from launching the resort project as long as the republic is an active insurgency area. The same is true in Chechnya until there is more progress on security and rule of law improves. Elsewhere in the region, further security improvements need to go hand-in-hand with resort development.
“The Sochi Olympics risk turning into a duel between the state and the Islamist insurgents Moscow has fought so hard to destroy since 1999. Moscow’s harsh security measures may temporarily suppress the symptoms of the North Caucasus insurgency, but they cannot solve the core problems”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Program Director for Europe and Central Asia. “The region needs dialogue and reform, justice and rule of law much more than drones and special forces”.
“The most promising contribution to the North Caucasus Resorts project would be a major effort by Moscow to seek a long-term, comprehensive solution to violence in the region”, says Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, Crisis Group’s North Caucasus Project Director. “Tourism development requires clear legal frameworks and protection of property rights and local economic interests, as well as population participation in decision-making, so as to generate local support”.
FULL REPORT 

Too Far, Too Fast: Sochi, Tourism and Conflict in the Caucasus

Moscow/Brussels  |   30 Jan 2014

The recent bombings in the south of Russia could prove a precursor to more violence and instability in the Caucasus if Moscow does not abandon repression for political dialogue.

In its latest report, Too Far, Too Fast: Sochi, Tourism and Conflict in the Caucasus, the International Crisis Group explores the opportunities and dangers that the Sochi games and the North Caucasus Resorts project hold for the region’s security. While earlier efforts to engage moderate Salafis showed promise, President Vladimir Putin’s heavy-handed religious policy and security measures risk increasing tensions in the conflict-torn area. Recent attacks, including two in Volgograd, suggest that Islamist terrorists may try to strike across the country and embarrass Moscow during the Olympics, the preparations of which have been beset by allegations of abuses against the local populace. Beyond the immediate risk, they underline the urgent need to achieve a comprehensive political solution to the North Caucasus conflicts before rolling out fully an ambitious tourism project in republics that still have active insurgencies or have been seriously affected by conflict.

The report’s major findings and recommendations are:

  • To improve North Caucasus security during and after Sochi, the National Anti-Terrorist Committee should prevent human rights abuses and intimidation directed against moderate fundamentalists. It should also end collective punishment for insurgency-related crimes; integrate moderates into socio-economic life; facilitate Sufi-Salafi dialogue; and promote rehabilitation of ex-fighters.
  • To improve the reputation of the Winter Games, the authorities should guarantee fair compensation to Sochi residents whose homes were destroyed or demolished during the preparatory phase. The government also should investigate complaints of violations of rights by citizens and migrant workers and put an end to the harassment of peaceful activists.
  • The Olympics are a curtain raiser for an expensive and risky plan to develop tourism across the North Caucasus. This will only succeed if the communities involved are actively supportive and directly included in decision-making. In Dagestan, the Federation government should refrain from launching the resort project as long as the republic is an active insurgency area. The same is true in Chechnya until there is more progress on security and rule of law improves. Elsewhere in the region, further security improvements need to go hand-in-hand with resort development.

“The Sochi Olympics risk turning into a duel between the state and the Islamist insurgents Moscow has fought so hard to destroy since 1999. Moscow’s harsh security measures may temporarily suppress the symptoms of the North Caucasus insurgency, but they cannot solve the core problems”, says Paul Quinn-Judge, Crisis Group’s Program Director for Europe and Central Asia. “The region needs dialogue and reform, justice and rule of law much more than drones and special forces”.

“The most promising contribution to the North Caucasus Resorts project would be a major effort by Moscow to seek a long-term, comprehensive solution to violence in the region”, says Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, Crisis Group’s North Caucasus Project Director. “Tourism development requires clear legal frameworks and protection of property rights and local economic interests, as well as population participation in decision-making, so as to generate local support”.

FULL REPORT 

15 Jan
"Modern terrorism doesn’t require much resources — you need a man or a woman who are ready to sacrifice their lives, and explosives that you can actually make at home."

Ekaterina Sokirianskaia, our North Caucasus Project Director, this morning on NPR!

7 Jan
A Threat Made Real | A.O.
Two bomb attacks in the southern city of Volgograd within 24 hours have killed more than 30 people, injured over 100 and brought the city once known as Stalingrad into a state of terror. The latest bomb, the third in three months, ripped through a trolley-bus in the morning rush-hour, killing at least 14 people. This came less than a day after a bomb went off at a railway station—one of the most closely guarded places in the city—killing 17 people. Both explosions appear to have been set off by suicide bombers. Although nobody has claimed responsibility, the attacks are most likely the work of Islamist fundamentalists from the North Caucasus.
FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)
Photo: waferboard/Flickr

A Threat Made Real | A.O.

Two bomb attacks in the southern city of Volgograd within 24 hours have killed more than 30 people, injured over 100 and brought the city once known as Stalingrad into a state of terror. The latest bomb, the third in three months, ripped through a trolley-bus in the morning rush-hour, killing at least 14 people. This came less than a day after a bomb went off at a railway stationone of the most closely guarded places in the citykilling 17 people. Both explosions appear to have been set off by suicide bombers. Although nobody has claimed responsibility, the attacks are most likely the work of Islamist fundamentalists from the North Caucasus.

FULL ARTICLE (The Economist)

Photo: waferboard/Flickr

17 Dec

Join the Crisis Group conversation!

Watch Louise Arbour and Kofi Annan on the responsibility to protect, Comfort Ero on the militarisation of peacekeeping, Thomas Pickering on UN Security Council reform, and George Soros on the breakdown of the rule of law.

Crisis Group’s annual briefing brings serious thought to foreign policy’s hardest questions.

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5 Dec
Winter Games, Caucasian Misery | Ekaterina Sokirianskaia
The Black Sea resort of Sochi, with its breathtaking views of the nearby Caucasus Mountains, was once a favorite holiday destination of Communist Party bosses in the Soviet era. Now reincarnated in gleaming glass, steel and concrete, Sochi is getting ready to welcome the 2014 Winter Olympics, opening on Feb. 7.
When, in 2007, President Vladimir V. Putin argued on behalf of Russia’s bid to hold the 2014 Games, he assured the International Olympic Committee that it would be a “safe, enjoyable and memorable experience.” The Sochi Games are his personal project and a very ambitious one — not least because the Games will take place in the immediate neighborhood of the North Caucasus, site of Europe’s deadliest ongoing conflict. For Mr. Putin, hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi will demonstrate to the world that Russia has solved its problems in these restive republics and is back as a strong and united superpower.
FULL ARTICLE (New York Times) 
Photo: rapidtravelchai/Flickr

Winter Games, Caucasian Misery | Ekaterina Sokirianskaia

The Black Sea resort of Sochi, with its breathtaking views of the nearby Caucasus Mountains, was once a favorite holiday destination of Communist Party bosses in the Soviet era. Now reincarnated in gleaming glass, steel and concrete, Sochi is getting ready to welcome the 2014 Winter Olympics, opening on Feb. 7.

When, in 2007, President Vladimir V. Putin argued on behalf of Russia’s bid to hold the 2014 Games, he assured the International Olympic Committee that it would be a “safe, enjoyable and memorable experience.” The Sochi Games are his personal project and a very ambitious one — not least because the Games will take place in the immediate neighborhood of the North Caucasus, site of Europe’s deadliest ongoing conflict. For Mr. Putin, hosting the Winter Olympics in Sochi will demonstrate to the world that Russia has solved its problems in these restive republics and is back as a strong and united superpower.

FULL ARTICLE (New York Times) 

Photo: rapidtravelchai/Flickr

1 Nov
"Russia in particular [should] implement in practice the commitment it repeatedly voices to the well-being of Syria’s citizens"

—from today’s statement on Syria