Monday, September 27, 2010

Window on Eurasia: North Caucasian Militants Want Russia to Want Independence of North Caucasus, Mamsurov Says

Paul Goble

Staunton, September 27 – Militants in the North Caucasus republics want to create a situation in which residents there will decide that they would be better off outside of the Russian Federation, but even more, the head of the Republic of North Ossetia says, they seek by their actions to get Russians to want precisely that.
To that end, Taymuraz Mamsurov says in an interview published in today’s “Kommersant,” the militants try to do everything so that Russians will view North Caucasians as “wild men whom it is impossible to education but only possible to destroy” so that eventually Russians will say enough (
And in pursuit of that goal, he continues, they are prepared to engage in the most horrific act of terrorism like the September 9th explosion in Vladikavkaz and to fight on for perhaps as many as ten years more, something they hope to be able to achieve by keeping the population of the region in a condition of constant fear.
To defeat them, Mamsurov argues, “we must learn to live in conditions of war. Now, we must quickly learn from our mistakes. In blood, unfortunately. But the most terrible thing is if our people will live in horror and fear.” People cannot and must not live that way. “Therefore one must learn how to counter these threats and wait until all this will end.”
After the Vladikavkaz attack, Mamsurov acknowledges that many Ossetians and especially the young were inclined to blame the Ingush, not only because an entire generation has grown up among the Ossetians blaming the Ingush and vice versa but because young people tend to be especially emotional on such subjects. If they were otherwise, it would be “strange.”
The North Ossetian leader said that Ingush President Yevkurov had called him immediately after the events to express his sympathies but that it was very difficult for him to say anything publically, given the passions in both republics. That is something, Mamsurov says he fully understands.
In other comments, Mamsurov says that he made contacts with the Israelis after the Beslan terrorist act because “one must teach people” not only that “each day is a gift but also to be able to live with the threat of terrorism, and not become immobilized by fear of that possibility even as one minimizes the threat. That is something the Israelis have done.
The North Ossetian leader also says that his relations with the law enforcement organs in his republic are good, even though “by federal law, [he] does not have the right to appoint or remove them and they have the right not to tell me all that I want to know.” But he suggests that he gets information “about everything.”
Mamsurov argues that Islam is not to blame for all the problems in the North Caucasus as many seem to think – even those responsible for Beslan were from other faiths. And he adds that despite his own ethnic heritage, he had “never in [his] life” gone to a mosque, and believed that “faith without knowledge is fanaticism.
But Mamsurov’s most important comments concern how he would conduct the struggle against the militants. On the one hand, he stresses that it is an ideological fight, one in which current leaders like himself must make sure that another generation does not grow up hating people of other groups and blaming them for all their own problems.
And on the other, he calls for draconian punishments. Those who engage in the killing of innocents must be killed. There is no other “medicine” for them. Moreover, the families of the militants and those who stand behind the one and the other must bear full responsibility for what the terrorists do.
Mamsurov dismisses as impossible the idea suicide bombers do not care about their lives. Such an individual is simply specially prepared, just like some dogs are in the military. Such an individual “does not sacrifice himself. He is not alive. [Instead,] this is an individual who does not know religion or the value of life or the mother who bore and nursed him.”
In fact, such an individual is simply “a thing in human form that is chosen because of his psychological problems.” No ideas are behind his action, Mamsurov continues, and certainly no religion supports this kind of behavior. That is a hard lesson to learn, but it is a necessary one if such phenomena are to be defeated.
What the peoples of the North Caucasus are involved in is “a war. This is not some kind of petty banditism. And when one is involved in a war one must act accordingly. If I take you prisoner, I read out law. If I am required to keep you in prison and feed you and so on, I must do that. If I am required in military time to shoot you, then I must do so.”
More to the point, “you must know about this. When you leave your home, you must know what you are getting involved in. And if you go along this path, then you must know that even if you die, this is what will happen with your family and close friends. This is not some kind of Caucasian wildness; it must be based on law and on the decision of a court.”
If the peoples of the North Caucasus are to defeat the militants, Mamsurov concludes, everyone must understand that, both the militants and those they seek to destroy or enslave.

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