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Chaos in Dagestan

medved060909.jpgAfter 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.