More than 2,000 people have been detained in protests across Russia since President Vladimir Putin announced a mobilization of military reserve troops to fight in Ukraine. The demonstrators are risking long prison terms under laws passed shortly after the Ukraine invasion was launched, which have facilitated a harsh crackdown on dissent. At least 20 were detained in the North Caucasus republic of Dagestan, where police fired in the air to disperse local villagers who were blocking a highway. But the following day, the protests spread to the regional capital of Makhachkala, where demonstrators shouting “No to war” were attacked by riot police. Reports indicate that it is not only military reservists who are being called up, and that a general conscription is actually underway in some areas. There are also reports of disproportionately high numbers called up in poor regions populated by ethnic minorities, such as the North Caucasus. (Photo via Moscow Times)
In Episode 132 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes that deputy Duma speaker Pyotr Tolstoy, one of the most bellicose supporters of Putin’s Ukraine war, is a direct descendent of Leo Tolstoy—and recently invoked his great-great-grandfather’s “slaughter” of British and French troops during the Crimean War as a warning to the West. This is, of course, an utterly perverse irony given that the literary giant’s anarcho-pacifist beliefs were antithetical to everything that his descendant Pyotr stands for. Indeed, it was Leo Tolstoy’s experiences in the Crimean War that turned him into a committed pacifist. His final novel, Hadji Murat, vivdly depicts the brutality of Russia’s counterinsurgency campaign in Chechnya in the 1850s—a history that repeated itself in Chechnya in the 1990s. This is bitterly recalledby the Chechen volunteers now fighting for Ukraine, where this history is repeating itself yet again. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon. (Image adopted from Europeana Foundation)
Police in southern Russia raided the homes and office of activists who provide legal and psychological assistance to survivors of human rights abuses and domestic violence, Human Rights Watch reports. The raids took place in Makhachkala and Khasavyurt, two cities in Dagestan, a republic in Russia’s Northern Caucasus region. The activists targeted are members of the Stichting Justice Initiative, a nongovernmental organization representing victims of rights abuses in the North Caucasus and survivors of domestic violence. Police seized computers and electronics containing documentation pertaining to their work. The court order sanctioning the search and seizure contained no information about any specific alleged offense that would have justified the action. “These outrageous police raids show the poisonous climate for NGOs in Russia, and particularly in the North Caucasus,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch. (Map: Wikitravel)
Russia’s National Anti-Terrorist Committee announced that security forces killed three militants who had sworn allegiance to ISIS in a shoot-out in Dagestan. (Map via La Croix International)
With the Winter Olympics underway in Sochi, Russian special forces troops have killed several suspected militants in a series of raids in Dagestan, just across the Caucasus. (Map: Wikitravel)
In the wake of the Volgograd terror blasts, Putin is preparing a new offensive against Chechen insurgents seeking to rebuild the 19th century "Caucasus Emirate."
The Kavkaz Center, voice of the Chechen mujahedeen, issued a statement suggesting that the suspects in the Boston attacks were framed in a plot to discredit their struggle.