Reasons for Dagestan’s unrest: arbitrary authorities, Islam and unemployment

Very briefly, I just wanted to highlight the findings of a survey in the Caucasus publication Dosh, reported by Sergei Konovalov in today’s Nezavisimaya gazeta. With the cooperation of local NGOs, Dosh surveyed 2,117 people aged 18 to 80 years.Respondents were why they felt Dagestanis joined the insurgency. The findings were:

49.5% Because of the arbitrariness of the security forces, because they fear for their lives, or to avenge relatives

28.3% Because of their religious beliefs and a desire to establish Sharia law in Dagestan

20.8% Because of unemployment and a lack of alternative sources of opportunity

The article quotes a local journalist Nadira Isaeva, to the effect that most recruits were born in the 1980s and 1990s and thus grew up in a period of the collapse of state ideology, so “these people have chosen Islam and the search for justice in arms.” It’s interesting that even the more dovish strategists (including Khloponin) concentrate on economic opportunities, which is ranked third – although we must always be cautious with such data, as people do not always say (or even know) what truly motivates them. It really does emphasize just how toxic and delegitimating corruption, human rights abuses and a culture of impunity within the security forces can be, though. Given the new efforts to change the culture of the police (something which is laudable, but will take time and sustained political will), it will be interesting to see if anything similar spreads to the FSB, the Interior Troops, the military, etc in their dealings with locals. And, of course, there’s that perennial, thorny issue of corruption…

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