Russia’s Mega-Mosque Problem

Erick Stakelbeck
CBN News Terrorism Analyst

My CBN News colleague George Thomas recently spent time on the ground in Moscow, where he put together a typically outstanding report on the push by Muslims in Moscow to build huge mosques.

It will be interesting to see how Putin, Medvedev and Co. react. On one hand, they are locked in a continuing struggle against Islamic jihadists from neighboring Chechnya.

Yet on the other hand, they have fully embraced the jihadist mad mullahs of Iran, assisting them with their nuclear program and providing them with advanced weaponry.

It’s a schizophrenic approach, to say the least. Click on the viewer below to watch George’s report.




US policy on Muslims an insult – Chechen Head

Uploaded by RussiaToday on Apr 19, 2011

The North Caucasus still remains the main terrorist hub in Russia. RT spoke with Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen republic to find out what is being done to combat the problem.

Book Excerpt: One Soldier’s War by Arkady Babchenko


Babchenko was drafted in the Russian Army in 1995 and served in the first Chechnya War. In 1999 Babchenko re-upped to fight in the Second Chechnya War, “I have no answer to why I went back there again. I don’t know. I just couldn’t help it. I was irresistibly drawn back there. Maybe it was because my past was there, a large part of my life. It was as if only my body had returned from that first war, but not my soul.”


Book Excerpt: One Soldier’s War by Arkady Babchenko

Terrorist trainer taken down in road check fire-fight

RussiaToday on Apr 18, 2011

Russian officials have confirmed one of the figureheads for Islamic radicalism in Southern Russia has been killed. Widely known as Emir Hassan, he’s been linked to a series of terrorist attacks, including last year’s Moscow metro bombings. RT’s North Caucasus correspondent Madina Kochenova reports


North Caucasus: one war lost, another one begins

North Caucasus: one war lost, another one begins
Andrei Piontkovsky
oD Russia | 16 March 2011

The region of the North Caucasus is on fire. Its young people — poorly educated and unemployed — believe radical Islam could be solution to their problems. In Mother Russia, meanwhile, a new generation of disenfranchised youngsters are smarting from their lot. The two groups may be soon on collision course, warns Andrei Piontkovsky


Events in the North Caucasus have been increasingly moving beyond a mere regional conflict, and are turning into the central existential problem of the Russian Federation. All the mistakes, failures and crimes of Russia’s post-communist governments in the sphere of security, economics, nationalities policy and federal system have become entwined in the Caucasian knot.

The security situation in the North Caucasus is deteriorating. According to Russian authorities, the number of terrorist acts in the area has doubled in a year

What was the reason we fought two Chechen wars? Russia’s territorial integrity, supposedly. However, territorial integrity is not the same as scorched earth without people. We went to war to prove to the Chechens that they are Russian citizens. But we did it by destroying their cities by using airborne power and Grad missiles and by abducting peaceful civilians whose bodies were later found showing signs of torture.

We have consistently proved to the Chechens the exact opposite of what we have proclaimed, demonstrating with our entire behaviour that they are not Russian citizens, that we have long ceased to regard them as Russian citizens and their cities and villages as Russian cities and villages. And we have conclusively proved this not just to the Chechens, but to all the natives of the Caucasus.

This is what makes this war essentially and fundamentally absurd.

We have lost the war against the Chechen separatists. One of the most brutal field commanders, Ramzan Kadyrov, has emerged as the winner. He enjoys a degree of independence from the Kremlin that the Soviet officers Dudayev and Maskhadov could not have dreamt of.

Faced with a choice between the very bad and the appalling, which itself was a result of his policies in Chechnya, Putin – to give him credit – has opted for the very bad. Having admitted defeat, he has handed all power in Chechnya to Kadyrov and his army, and since has been paying him war indemnity. In response, Kadyrov has formally declared not so much his loyalty to the Kremlin as his personal union with Putin. The appalling option would have been a continuation of the war to the point of destruction, à la Shamanov or Budanov.

However, the war against Chechen separatism in the North Caucasus has been replaced by another war, one against Islamist fundamentalism.

Islamist terrorism has since spread throughout the North Caucasus and it no longer needs to rely on mentors from the Middle East. There is now a new generation of home-grown followers in the Caucasus with its indigenous structure of Jamaats. Just as during the Chechen war, our official state policy has resulted in an increase in the numbers of Islamists. This is exemplified by the conduct of the Commander-in-Chief [Dmitry Medvedev] following the recent terrorist attacks, which boils down to his increasingly brutal calls for “total destruction” and the punishment of everyone, including those “who wash the terrorists’ laundry and cook their soup.”

The ferocious second Chechen war (beginning in 1999) is considered by many in Russia to be directly linked to the presidential election of 2000

Dmitry Medvedev and his pals are well aware of the morals of the Russian federal forces who dispatch themselves to the Caucasus for double salaries. As such, he must have realised that the only thing these kind of calls can achieve is an increase in the number of extrajudicial killings of civilians with no links to the insurgents, or in in retribution against families of suspects. A situation which will, in turn, swell the ranks of potential suicide bombers and result in fresh terrorist attacks on Russian soil.

The only explanation for the use of such highly irresponsible rhetoric from a lawyer and state official is a desire to demonstrate a “cool” image. And one must assume it is being done in the hope of safeguarding the support of the siloviki, who have been given carte blanche, for a future settling of accounts.

Just as in Chechnya, we continue to delude ourselves by making payouts to corrupt “elites” in the republics, who simply steal the cash and thus force the unfortunate population onto a path of Islamist revolution.

Editor-in-chief of Moscow Echo Radio Alexei Venediktov, an exceedingly well-informed man with contacts at the top, provided the following invaluable insight:

“Sometimes when I talk to people who are in really high positions, decision-makers, and I tell them: listen, those Caucasian presidents have started behaving like khans, they tell me: that is the price we pay for the absence of war. What absence of war? Of course, tanks are no longer roaming the country, Grad missiles are not being fired. But absence of war? What, if not war, is going on there? I totally disagree on this point. And that’s what I say to you and to the people I meet. This is a fundamental mistake. We are a country at war.”

The psychology of the “people in really high positions, decision-makers” that Venediktov sometimes talks to is very interesting. Yes, there is peace at their securely guarded mansions around Moscow and on the Black Sea coast in Gelendzhik. And the price of this peace is a war against ordinary people’s shacks and the transport system they use.

Paradoxically, while recent events have shown that Islamists have been losing ground in the Middle East, their influence in the North Caucasus has only grown.

Mr. Putin, apart from his macho braggadocio – rather incongruous, given the current situation – that he will not negotiate with anyone (the Islamists are not intending to negotiate with anyone anyway), has also made a point of emphasising that there was no connection between Chechnya and the Domodedovo Airport explosion. He is probably absolutely right. The most active centres of Islamic radicalism are now concentrated in other republics. And they include people of various nationalities, including Slavs.

But then again, even by official accounts, there was no connection between Chechnya and the bomb attacks on apartment houses in 1999 either, let alone the Ryazan “training exercise”. Yet it was in revenge for these attacks that tanks and aircraft as well as Grad missiles were unleashed on Chechnya. Mr. Putin’s delicate approach to Chechnya would have been invaluable back then.

Chechnya’s strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. Not so much loyal to, as united with Vladimir Putin.

Putin’s current, more considerate attitude to the matter of Chechen reputation tells us an awful lot. He is rightly wary of arousing Kadyrov’s wrath, since these days Putin depends on Kadyrov much more than Kadyrov does on Putin. Without Kadyrov’s demonstrative personal loyalty the entire Putin myth would implode in an instant.

The Kremlin has been waging a war in the Caucasus for twelve years without realising the scale of the tragedy it has unleashed – the fact that the country is sliding into an intra-national civil war and that the full responsibility rests on the government policy that has fuelled both sides for a long time now.

By launching and then losing the war in the Caucasus, the Kremlin now pays an indemnity for a show of subservience, not only to Kadyrov but also to the criminal elites in all the other republics. This pays for the purchases of mansions and for the gilded guns slung across their buttocks, while the destitute, déclassé, unemployed young mountain-dwellers are joining the soldiers of Allah or are being displaced onto the streets of Russian cities.

Over the past two decades an entire generation of children has grown up on Russian streets, forever robbed of everything by the privatisation reforms. Those in charge of TV and politics have made it clear to them who is to blame for their misery and who is intent on dismembering them: it is the “gentlemen in pith helmets” and the “criminal factions of the non-indigenous nationalities”.

Since gangs of adolescents from working-class suburbs deprived of their future don’t have ready access to “gentlemen in pith helmets” or to the celestial inhabitants of [Moscow’s luxury suburb of] Rublyovka, they vent their pent-up fury by beating to death “persons of non-indigenous skin colour”.

Now two armies of desperadoes, equally guilty and equally innocent, both victims and executioners, who have been cheated and robbed by basically the same people, have turned on each other.

There is a growing mental abyss between the Russian youth and their Caucasian counterparts who have grown up in conditions of a brutal war, initially in Chechnya but later engulfing the entire region.

On 9 December, young Muscovites marched through the city shouting nationalistic slogans (Photo: Ilya Varlamov)

Young Muscovites march through the city shouting, in English “Fuck Caucasus! Fuck!” [sic], while the young mountain-dwellers’ behaviour in the streets of Russian cities is demonstratively provocative and aggressive. Their psychology is that of the victors. In their view, Moscow has lost the war in the Caucasus.

Mentally and emotionally Caucasus and Russia have already separated from each other. Yet neither the Kremlin nor the elites in the North Caucasus are ready for a formal separation. The Kremlin continues to nurse phantom illusions of its empire, with its far-reaching zones of privileged interests beyond Russia’s frontiers, while the local little tsars, starting with Kadyrov, do not want to give up the budget transfers from Russia. The Islamists are not keen on separation either. Their dream is of a Khalifate that would include much more of the Russian Federation than just the North Caucasus.

President Medvedev recently called a large meeting in Vladikavkaz.

There he repeated his charge that anonymous enemies (i.e. the West) are trying to destroy Russia and he cheered on his siloviki, essentially goading them to carry out extrajudicial killings and calling for the North Caucasus to be turned into… a zone of international Alpine tourism.

The next day after his departure the insurgents blew up ski-lifts in the famous ski resort of Nalchik.

About the author

Andrei Piontkovsky is an eminent Russian academic and political analyst, specialising in Russia’s domestic, foreign and security politics.

You Dress According to Their Rule

“You Dress According to Their Rules”

Enforcement of an Islamic Dress Code for Women in Chechnya

March 10, 2011


This report documents acts of violence, harassment, and threats against women in Chechnya to intimidate them into wearing a headscarf or dressing more “modestly,” in long skirts and sleeves to cover their limbs. The documented attacks by unidentified men believed to be law enforcement officials took place from June through September 2010 in the center of Grozny, the Chechen capital.

Read the Report


Table of Contents

  • Map of Chechnya
  • Summary
  • Methodology
  • I. Background
  • II. Enforcing Islamic Dress Code in Chechnya through Attacks and Harassment of Women
  • III. Recommendations
  • Acknowledgments
  • Appendix: Questions and Answers on Restrictions on Religious Dress and Symbols in Europe

Russia: Chechnya Enforcing Islamic Dress Code

Russia: Chechnya Enforcing Islamic Dress Code

Women Attacked, Intimidated as Moscow Officials Look the Other Way

Human Rights Watch | March 10, 2011


A female student covers herself with a headscarf in a high school in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya. Headscarves are mandatory for female students in Chechnya today.



These attacks against women are outrageous, and the alleged involvement of law enforcement officials is of special concern. The Kremlin should publicly and unambiguously make clear, in particular to the Chechen authorities, that Chechen women, like all Russians, are free to dress as they choose. Tanya Lokshina, Russia researcher


(Moscow) – Chechen authorities are enforcing a compulsory Islamic dress code for women and condoning violent attacks on women deemed to dress immodestly, Human Rights Watch said in a report issued today. Russia’s federal government has done almost nothing to respond to these violations of women’s rights in Chechnya.

The 40-page report, “You Dress According to Their Rules: Enforcement of an Islamic Dress Code for Women in Chechnya,” documents acts of violence, harassment, and threats against women in Chechnya to intimidate them into wearing a headscarf or dressing more “modestly,” in long skirts and sleeves to cover their limbs. The documented attacks by unidentified men believed to be law enforcement officials took place from June through September 2010 in the center of Grozny, the Chechen capital.

“These attacks against women are outrageous, and the alleged involvement of law enforcement officials is of special concern,” said Tanya Lokshina, Russia researcher at Human Rights Watch. “The Kremlin should publicly and unambiguously make clear, in particular to the Chechen authorities, that Chechen women, like all Russians, are free to dress as they choose.”

The Russian government also should ensure that the attackers are prosecuted, Human Rights Watch said.

The attacks and the dress code policy are parts of a quasi-official “virtue campaign,” which Chechen officials began several years ago in the republic. The campaign breaches freedom of religion, freedom of conscience, and the right to personal autonomy and expression, guaranteed by Russia’s constitution and international human rights obligations, Human Rights Watch said.

As part of this campaign, despite the absence of any legal basis for doing so, local authorities prohibit women from working in the public sector if they do not wear headscarves. Education authorities require female students to wear headscarves in schools and universities.

Gradually, throughout 2009 and 2010, the authorities broadened their enforcement of this de facto “headscarf rule” to other public places, including entertainment sites, movie theaters, and even outdoor areas. These measures are strictly enforced and publicly supported by the Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who was appointed directly by the Kremlin. In numerous media interviews, Kadyrov has said openly that he considers women inferior to men and that it is women’s duty to obey men and keep themselves covered up so as not to tempt men into violating Islamic morality.

Last summer’s attacks signaled a dramatic intensification in the headscarf campaign. Unknown men, mostly dressed like local law enforcement officials, shot dozens of women in Grozny with paintball guns for wearing clothes deemed to be revealing and for failing to cover their hair. The men also distributed leaflets stating that the paintball shootings were a preventive measure aimed at making women wear headscarves and threatening that women who refused would face more “persuasive” measures. All of the 31 women interviewed by Human Rights Watch for this report unanimously interpreted this as a threat to use real weapons instead of paintball guns.

In a televised interview in July 2010, Kadyrov expressed unambiguous approval of the paintball attacks by professing his readiness to “give an award to” the men engaged in them and arguing that the targeted women deserved this treatment.

At the start of Ramadan in mid-August 2010, groups of men in traditional Islamic dress claiming to represent the republic’s Islamic High Council started publicly shaming women in the center of Grozny for violating their interpretation of Islamic modesty laws. They handed out brochures with detailed descriptions of appropriate Islamic dress for women and instructed them to wear headscarves, skirts that fell well below the knees, and sleeves well below the elbow.

Aggressive young men joined the purported council envoys, pulling on women’s sleeves, skirts, and hair, touching the bare skin on their arms, accusing them of dressing like “harlots” and making other humiliating remarks and gestures. In interviews with Human Rights Watch, over 30 victims and witnesses described a pattern of harassment that continued throughout Ramadan and that in some cases involved law enforcement authorities as enforcers of the women’s dress code.

“When a public official like Ramzan Kadyrov praises violence and speaks of women in inferior terms, he is openly encouraging attacks and humiliation of women,” Lokshina said. “This is absolutely unacceptable, yet Russian authorities seem to make no efforts to rein him in.”

Russia’s Prosecutor General’s Office has directed Chechen authorities to look into the paintball attacks. But the federal authorities have taken no further steps to put an end to the enforcement of a compulsory Islamic dress code and have failed to indicate in any public way that Kadyrov’s justification of violence against women is unacceptable.

Human Rights Watch has criticized the governments of Germany, France, and Turkey for violating religious freedoms by banning religious symbols in schools and denying Muslim women the right to choose to wear headscarves in schools and universities. By the same token, women and girls should be free not to wear religious or traditional dress.

Human Rights Watch called on the Russian government to condemn publicly the enforcement of a compulsory Islamic dress code on Chechen women. The Russian government should also ensure access to the region for international monitors, including the UN Special Rapporteurs on violence against women and on freedom of religion, and empower Chechen women to enjoy their right to personal autonomy, Human Rights Watch said.

“The Russian government needs to stop tolerating Chechnya’s unlawful gender policies,” Lokshina said.