After reading this morning about the horrible, horrible murder of Justice Aza Gazgireeva in Nazran, North Caucasus (a merciless shooting in front of her childrens’ kingergarten, with even a 1-year-old receiving a bullet wound), I knew that it wouldn’t be long before Moscow made some grand gestures toward the troubled region. Then I saw in the Associated Press that President Dmitry Medvedev was actually just there yesterday:
That killing prompted Mr. Medvedev to make an unannounced visit to Dagestan Tuesday, visiting police bases and reviewing troops — a visit that was covered lavishly by state-controlled TV. Mr. Medvedev blamed foreign “freaks” for inciting the violence, “extremism supplied to us from abroad.”
Hours after the president left Dagestan, a riot police officer wasshot and killed as he headed home after work — an attack that occurrednear a base where Mr. Medvedev had observed counterterrorism exercises.In another part of the Dagestan capital, a road police officer waskilled after trying to stop a car to check documents.
In the face of this kind of terrible violence, one desperately hopesthat the state’s policy will eventually produce peace – but these kindsof statements encouraging xenophobia and nationalism do not strike meas the most constructive approach. What is happening in Dagestan ismost definitely a Russian problem for the Russian people to have anopen discussion about. This kind of brutality needs to be fought withthe strongest weapons – honesty and transparency, not misleadingrhetoric.