Chechnya returned to it’s violent past last week when Islamic terrorists attacked the republic’s parliament in the capital Grozny.
This comes at a time when Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov had assured the people he had eradicated the underground groups.
At 8:30am last Tuesday, three terrorists managed to storm the heavily fortified building and exchange gunfire with police. One terrorist set off a suicide belt. Initial fears of a hostage situation were dispelled when the attack concluded after only twenty minutes.
All the terrorists committed suicide after being swiftly cornered by Chechen security forces.
The attack resulted in the deaths of two policemen and one parliamentary official. 17 others were injured. It was discovered later that the militants arrived at parliament in a taxi, and gained entrance by threatening gate security with guns. The Russian interior minister, Rashid Nurgaliyev, was visiting Chechnya at the time, but was not near the scene of the attack.
Another visiting politician however, Igor Danilov, was caught up in the attack. Ironically he was due to attend a meeting discussing how well Chechnya was faring in peacetime. Nurgaliyev praised the Chechen forces who managed to stop the attack.
The attack has been widely condemned with both the EU and USA denouncing the actions of the terrorists.
The historically unstable region has recently endured a spell of calm under President Ramzan Kadyrov, however some believe that the Kremlin backed leader has actually provoked Islamic radicals.
Kadyrov has managed to transform the fortunes of Chechnya since taking his Presidential position in 2007. A favourite of Vladimir Putin, Kadyrov has managed to direct funds into rebuilding the capital Grozny after its destruction during the war years. A Muslim himself, he sanctioned the building of Europe’ s largest mosque in Grozny.
He has managed to overcome personal tragedy; his father was former Chechan President Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in 2004. Kadyrov himself avoided an assassination attempt in 2009.
In what has now become famliar theme in Russian politics, Kadyrov has a colourful background. He fought for militia groups during the first Chechan wars. He became Chechnya’s President after a decree was passed by the Russian President at the time, Vladimir Putin, which removed the previous president.
Many human rights groups have linked Kadyrov to a series of murders of outspoken opponents to his rule. German Human rights group Society for Threatened Peoples allege that 75 per cent of murder, torture and kidnapping incidents in Chechnya have been committed by Kadyrov’ s paramilitary forces.
Some have also linked him to the murder of the infamous Russian journalist Anna Politkovskya, who specialised in Chechnya reporting.
Independent reporters have continually highlighted the rebirth of tensions between governments and radical groups in the North Caucasus region.
In March this year Chechan suicide bombers killed 39 people in the Moscow Metro attacks. The Russian government has always been quick to dispel rumours, highlighting the relative peaceful state achieved under Kadyrov. This recent attack has brought the topic to the fore once again.