Terrorism in Dagestan: how stable is Russia?

In the Russian republic of Dagestan in the North Caucasus, terrorists attacked Orthodox churches, synagogues and the police in the major cities of Derbent and Makhachkala on Sunday. 21 people were killed, 16 of whom were police officers. The five attackers, including two sons and a nephew of a local head of administration, were shot dead. Governor Sergey Melikov blamed "foreign forces" for the attack. The state of alert has since been lifted.

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La Stampa (IT) /

Putin's Achilles heel

The Caucasus remains a problem for the Kremlin leader, La Stampa explains:

“Because it was the springboard for his rise when he pacified Chechnya with iron and fire. The Caucasus is one of the pillars of the neo-imperial idea. ... Behind the automatic, almost obsessive reflex with which Moscow reacts to jihadist attacks by blaming mysterious foreign forces and Western intelligence services lies an internal propaganda linked to the war in Ukraine, but above all an attempt to deny that the Islamist problem has not been solved. ... It would be bad for Putin to have to admit that his first success in the Caucasus on the road to rebuilding Russian power was a farce.”

Postimees (EE) /

Of limited benefit for the West

Postimees finds the situation both satisfying and worrying:

“It's clear that Islamist terrorists in Russia are taking advantage of the war in Ukraine, where a large number of troops are stationed, meaning that lawlessness reigns supreme in those places where the military and law enforcement forces are supposed to be providing security. The rise of Islamist terrorism in Russia creates a difficult situation for Estonia and its Western allies. On the one hand, the weakening of Russia and its inability to maintain order on its own territory is a welcome development; on the other hand, Russia's lacking effectiveness in containing Islamist terrorism is boosting that terrorism.”

Echo (RU) /

Terrorists as trendsetters

Ideologically speaking, Dagestan is in the hands of Islamists, liberal opposition politician Lev Shlosberg explains in a Telegram post picked up by Echo:

“You can talk all you like about external influences, but when terrorism germinates on your own soil it is already an entrenched phenomenon that can propagate like weeds. The influence of Islamic fanatics on public life in Dagestan has evidently reached a level where they effectively feel like they're in charge. They are known by sight. They are feared. They are not opposed. Fanatics and terrorists have become the trendsetters of political and cultural fashion. They have completely won the competition with the authorities for the minds of young people.”