– Several infrastructure projects are in realisation to connect Dagestan with the broader region. On the 1st of October, the Head of the Republic mentioned ata meeting of the Valdai Club that flights between Makhachkala and Iran are planned to operate in the future. He also mentioned that ministers from Azerbaijan and Russia are discussing the establishment of a high-speed train line between Baku and Makhachkala. This statement follows meetings held earlier this year between the federal-level Ministry of North Caucasus Affairs and Iranian authorities on the topic of economic cooperation. Then, on the 7th of October, the Dagestani Minister of Economy announced that a new ferry service over the Caspian sea, connecting Makhachkala to Turkmenbashi in Turkmenistan, is set to become operative by 2020. Its launch was discussed between Russian and Turkmen authorities earlier this year at the Caspian Economic Forum.
– New reports of palace intrigue at the commanding heights of Chechnya are emerging. Novaya Gazeta broke the story with a report published on the 14th of October. In it, purges and torture against former close members of the Kadyrov circle are mentioned to have been taking place since August of this year. Tbilisi-based analyst Neil P. Hauer commented for Ridl that the purges demonstrate the lingering weaknesses of the Kadyrov regime.
– The Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, accompanied Russian President Vladimir Putin on his visit to Saudi Arabia on the 14th of October. Kadyrov shared on his Telegram feed that the overall purpose of the visit was to discuss regional security and oil price stability. During the visit, Kadyrov told journalists that a visit of the Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman to Chechnya is being planned.
– On the 16th of October, the Krasnodar-based eco-activist NGO ‘Environmental Watch on the North Caucasus’ was fined by an Adygean court for 80 0000 rubles for their alleged partnership with ‘Open Russia’, an organisation deemed by federal authorities as ‘non-desirable’ in Russia. Andrey Rudomakh, the coordinator of the NGO, stated that no members of the organisation have a relationship with Open Russia, except for Alexandr Caveliev, who has collaborated with MBKh Media, a media organisation considered by Russian authorities to be a project of Open Russia. On the 30th of July of this year, the offices of Environmental Watch were raided by security services on similar charges, of collaborating with MBKh Media. Environmental Watch is an NGO active throughout the western North Caucasus, and has been active since the late 1990s.
– Regional efforts to develop the tourism industry in the North Caucasus continues. On the 18th of October, a business mission from the North Caucasus republics and regions went to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to seek partnerships to develop the North Caucasus as a tourist destination. The First Deputy Minister of the Ministry of North Caucasus Affairs accompanied the delegation to Dubai.
– On the 30 th of October, a commemorative event took place in Ingushetia’s Nazran, to remember the fallen in the 1992 Osseto-Ingush conflict. Several Ingush politicians and government officials attended the event, organised by the republic’s Ministries of Foreign Affairs, National Policy, and Printed Media. The brief war began on the 30th of October and was fought between Ossetian republican forces and Ingush militias who sought to restore Ingushetia’s control over the Prigorodny district, a North-Ossetian region with a large Ingush population. Over 1 000 casualties and at least 30 000 internally displaced people were produced in the 7 days-long conflict.
– On the 2nd of November, Ibrahim Eldzharkiev, the head of the Anti-Extremism Centre – Ingushetia (TsPE), a dependency of the local Ministry of Internal Affairs, and his brother were murdered in Moscow by unknown assailants. As of the 3rd of November, Dosh reported that nine people are under investigation, and that the attempt on his life involved extensive preparations. In January of this year there was another attempt on Eldzharkiev’s life.
PUBLICATION: The Heinrich Böll Foundation published in March of this year the report of a multi-year research on men’s lives in the North Caucasus. Based on the evidence from 800 interviews collected in 2016, the research found that men in the region are overwhelmingly concerned with economic hardship and powerlessness in front of the authorities. The conclusions drawn by the researchers is that traditional, patriarchal attitudes and expectations continue to predominate among men in the region.
Ivan U. Klyszcz is a PhD student in international relations at the Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies, University of Tartu, Estonia. He specialises in the North Caucasus and in Russia’s foreign policy. You will find him on Twitter @IvanUlisesKK