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Testimonies from the North Caucasus

The Caucasus Mountains located near Sochi, Russia hosted part of the Winter Olympics of February 2014. The same mountain range is also home to the North Caucasus, the site of Europes deadliest conflict. Two devastating wars in the republic of Chechnya after the collapse of the Soviet Union resulted in the violence spreading across the whole region. Although the military operations officially ended in earnest in 2009, some 700 people have been murdered in the last year in this small multi-ethnic, multi-religious corner of Russia.

The roots of the struggle, initially concerned with seeking independence from Russia, have now developed into a religious struggle with radical Islam at its centre. The republic of Dagestan has become a hotbed for terrorism and violence with both jihadist fighters and the government at war with one another. The fight against terrorism has often justified the states involvement in extrajudicial killings, kidnappings, torture, and persecution of the devout followers of Islam. Rampant corruption, lawlessness and impunity for crimes have escalated the conflict. In 2009 saw a wave of murders of North Caucasus human rights defenders. The civil society in Chechnya was killed together with Natalia Estemirova, the leading advocate of human rights...

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