Thursday 21 January 2010

Medvedev Appoints Krasnoyarsk Governor to Head New North Caucasus Federal District

by Valery Dzutsev - Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 13 - The Jamestown Foundation

On January 19, President Dmitry Medvedev announced the establishment of the North Caucasus Federal District and appointed Alexander Khloponin as the president’s plenipotentiary representative in the region. The newly formed federal district will consist of Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachaevo-Cherkessia and the Russian-speaking Stavropol region.

Aleksandr Khloponin was the governor of Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia until the very moment of Medvedev’s announcement. Khloponin is also set to receive the rank of deputy prime minister after adjustments are made in Russian law. Medvedev emphasized that Khloponin was appointed primarily to coordinate the economic development of the new federal district. The city of Pyatigorsk in Stavropol region is to become the center of the newly established federal district (, January 19).

The Republic of Adygea, the western-most republic in the Northern Caucasus, did not become a member of the new federal district. At the same time, the Stavropol region, a large but sparsely populated Russian-speaking region that has common borders with all of the region’s republics except Adygea and Ingushetia, was included in the newly formed district.

The North Caucasus Federal District will be the eighth federal district in the Russian Federation. This comes as the first change of the institution of federal districts and Russian presidential plenipotentiaries since President Vladimir Putin introduced it in May 2000.

The Kremlin has persistently tried to amalgamate the North Caucasian republics into Russian-speaking regional formations and even tried to get rid of the very term “North Caucasus,” renaming the original North Caucasian federal district as the Southern Federal District in June 2000. In striking contrast to the previous policies, Medvedev’s move defines the administrative borders of the Northern Caucasus Federal District almost strictly along the ethnic republics boundaries.

The personality of the new governor of the North Caucasus also represents a remarkable novelty in Moscow’s political approach toward the region. A member of the United Russia party, Alexander Khloponin is known not only for being the governor of the economically developed Krasnoyarsk region in the heart of Siberia. He is also known for his links to Russian oligarchs like Vladimir Potanin and Potanin’s Interros business structures. Before going into politics, Khloponin led the Norilsk Nickel plant from 1996 to 2001. Krasnoyarsk is the second largest region in Russia, comprising one-seventh of Russia’s territory. Khloponin’s methods of management are said to be somewhat sporadic as he tries to spend a good portion of his time in his home-city Moscow, where his family resides on a permanent basis (, February 4, 2008). Khloponin has no widely known links to the North Caucasus. However, since he became the governor of Krasnoyarsk region in 2002, he oversaw a successful amalgamation of two ethnic autonomies, the Taimyr and Evenk autonomous districts, into Krasnoyarsk region, an experience that might be valued in the Kremlin.

President Medvedev announced his decision to appoint his special representative in the North Caucasus during his state of the nation address on November 12, 2009. Medvedev cited the need to resolve what he called the single greatest internal problem of the Russian Federation –the precarious security situation in the North Caucasus. Ramzan Kadyrov, Dmitry Kozak, Vladislav Surkov, Arkady Yedelev and Sergei Ivanov were mentioned in the press as possible candidates. An anonymous source in the Russian government confirmed for that the message Moscow was trying to give to the public through Khloponin’s appointment was that Moscow was “abandoning” its reliance on force in its North Caucasus policies. Khloponin is also said to have close relations with both President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin (, January 19).

Medvedev has stated on several occasions that the North Caucasus region has to be economically developed in order to undercut the spread of Islamic extremism and to stabilize the region. However, mere changes in the personalities of governors and reshuffling the administrative boundaries may be insufficient measures in the troubled region. Also, it appears that major hawks, like the Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev, who is in charge of counter-terrorism operations in the North Caucasus, remain in office. Human rights defenders have regularly accused Russian law enforcement agencies of violating human rights and thereby contributing to the spread of extremism.

Both moves –the creation of a new federal district in the North Caucasus and appointing the governor of Krasnoyarsk region to head it– took most observers by surprise. Human Rights Watch’s expert Tatyana Lokshina said in an interview with the website that her impression was that the position of the president’s representative in the North Caucasus has become an intermediary stop for various bureaucrats, where they have to wait for their next appointment. According to Lokshina, Khloponin is better than the current head of the Southern Federal District, Vladimir Ustinov, but has insufficient expertise in the North Caucasus to be a successful governor.

Alexander Cherkasov of the Memorial human rights center cautiously welcomed the appointment as an indicator of a greater emphasis on economic development of the North Caucasus (, January 19). The editor-in-chief of the liberal Russian radio station Ekho Moskvy, Aleksei Venediktov, expressed his skepticism about both Medvedev’s decisions. He pointed to Khloponin’s manifestly low authority to manage local leaders like Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov and Ingushetia’s Yunus-bek Yevkurov and the arbitrariness of including a Russian speaking-region, Stavropol, in the new federal district, while excluding an ethnic republic, Adygea, from it (Ekho Moskvy, January 19).

The creation of the North Caucasus Federal District will make it easier for Moscow to focus on the tasks that are specific to the region. At the same time, increasing horizontal cooperation between the North Caucasus republics will be watched with unease by the more nationalist-minded people in the Russian government. Khloponin seems to be a compromise figure between the Putin and Medvedev teams and he may be, as several commentators speculated, a temporary figure.

Tuesday 19 January 2010

Absence of Will‏ - A Documentary by Mamuka Kuparadze


Documentary by Mamuka Kuparadze

Conciliation Resources, Heinrich Boell Foundation and Studio Re - 48 Min.

Vakho and Teo are twenty-something university graduates from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi. Born as the Soviet Union collapsed, they've grown up in the shadow of the wars that tore their country apart in the early nineteen nineties. They're too young to remember the fighting, but like everyone from their generation, their lives have been shaped by the legacy of the violence.

In the summer of 2008 Vakho and Teo set out to try to understand for themselves what caused the war in Abkhazia, and why after fifteen years of peace talks the sides are still no nearer to resolving their differences. Halfway through filming, fighting broke out again over South Ossetia. For a few brief days in August, war suddenly became a reality for Vakho and Teo, and as they experienced its horrors first hand, their search for answers became more personal and more urgent.

This is the story of their journey into Georgia's recent past, and of the tough questions and painful truths they faced in their search for the way to a better future.

Source: Heinrich Boell Foundation (PDF)


'Absence of Will': A commentary

Prepared by Metin Sönmez
Editor, &

The documentary film "Absence of Will'', financed by Conciliation Resources (UK) and the Heinrich Boell Foundation (Germany), produced by Studio RE, and directed by Mamuka Kuparadze, was broadcast in 2009 for the first time. It is of great importance to anyone who wishes properly to understand the Georgian - Abkhaz War of 1992 - 1993.

When I first watched it, I was surprised to find myself watching those responsible for starting the war as they confessed, with regret, the facts that I already knew all too well. While listening to these confession-like statements, the many articles, books and published comments (positive and negative) about this issue flashed across my mind. Then, I decided that it would be a useful exercise to combine elements from these sources and set them alongside the script of the documentary by way of commentary to serve as a guide for those desirous of understanding the 1992 - 1993 war.

I am of the opinion that presenting the facts, which have been so extensively denied and/ or distorted, in such a comparison is of fundamental importance. I provide dates for the conversations shown in the documentary. The citations highlighted in colour are taken from other sources. And to demonstrate the effects of Georgian black propaganda on Georgian society itself, I show some "print screened" comments from various web-sites. My aim is quite specific: to show the effects of Georgian black propaganda with relevant examples.

Related issues

Tuesday 5 January 2010

Abkhazia - Best Rated Country in 2009 -According to the International Pool of the Participants from 124 countries and more than 1,562,000 Votes received, ABKHAZIA received the greatest number of votes. (view detailed statistics)

Therefore, ABKHAZIA is officially entitled to be recognized as:


Congratulations to the Best Rated Country 2009!

-- Download Certificate

Source: Best Rated Country & Vote The Nation