This site is our response to everyone who has ever asked us what Russia is like, and for anyone who might have never wondered, but should have. It’s an attempt to put into words Russia as we see it; our go at explaining that big old riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma, that in fact, never went away. It’s about understanding the views, opinions and psyche of a nation that hits our headlines daily, without many of us ever really knowing why. And ultimately, it’s about providing a picture of Russia, as seen first-hand by two people, who think that although the journey they’re on to try and understand this country might never end, the process itself is worth sharing.

Friday, 29 May 2009

News from the Caucasus

Photo: Sergei Maximishin, Kabardino-Balkaria
Russia is the biggest country in the world. Fact. And it’s with this in mind that I’m going to start blogging more news from the more far flung regions of the motherland. In the days to come I’ll be taking a look at the Russian Far East, Siberia, the Urals, who knows - I might even make it to Murmansk. But for now, I’ll start where I left off on Wednesday – down south, in the Caucasus. is an internet news portal for the Caucasus region with constant updates on breaking news stories. I read through the news posted over 24 hours yesterday and picked out 3 stories to tell you about.

A Gun Battle has Broken out in the Capital of Kabardino-Balkaria
May 28, 3:35am

The sound of explosions and gunfire can be heard in central Nal’chik, capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, near to the central market and bus station.

“Law enforcement officers have blocked militants into a privately-owned building on Mechnikov street,” explained one source.

The shootout in central Nal’chik started at 1:30am Moscow time. At the current moment single gunshots can be heard.

The situation in Kabardino-Balkaria has again escalated. On the night of the 10th of May in the village of Dugulubgia after a special operation by the FSB three fighters were killed. According to unofficial sources, one of those killed was later identified as a former Imam of the Kabardino-Balkarian Jamia, Mussa Mukozhev.

On the 14th May the vice chief of the pre-trial detention facility of the federal penitentiary service Vitalii Bogatyrev was shot dead nearby his home and 500m from his workplace, by a gunman in a passing vehicle.

On the 20th May in Nal’chik gunmen opened fire on traffic policemen in a police car. The policemen returned fire but the gunmen managed to get away.


Markov: strengthening Abkhazia’s border with Georgia will ensure security
May 28, 9:11am

Reinforcing the border between Abkhazia and Georgia with Russia border guards will allow a higher level of security for Abkhazia to be ensured, will improve the economy and raise the number of tourists to the region declared Sergei Markov, MP.

According to the Markov, the Georgia’s government, under President Mikhail Saakashvili “has not let go of the idea of bringing Abkhazia back under control by force.”
The agreement signed on the 30th April to guard the border between Abkhazia and Georgia with both Abkhazian and Russian border guards is “legal, obvious and expresses the interest of the peoples of Russia and Abkhazia” declared Markov. “The border guards not only guard the border but also create the conditions for peaceful work and development of the people of Abkhazia.”

On the 1st May NATO declared that the agreement with Abkhazia and South Ossetia on guarding their borders is in conflict with the agreements from the 12 August and 8 September and is not conducive to long-term peace and security in the South Caucasus.

Markov also mentioned that he had been involved in the preparatory stages of a expert-youth forum that will take place in Abkhazia in July with the participation of “United Russia” [Russia’s ruling party], “Young Guard” [a pro-Kremlin youth group], students and professors from Russian universities and Russian experts.


Preparations continue in Chechnya for the municipal elections
May 28th 2009, 13:34pm

Preparations for Chechnya’s municipal elections which will be taking place on the 11th October are currently underway. They are being taken particularly seriously due to the fact that this is the first time that municipal elections are being held. The regional Central Election Committee is undertaking a lot of work preparing brochures as well as seminars to ensure that voters, candidates and the media understand the election process.

Observers have expressed scepticism with regards to the results of the voting in the parliamentary elections that took place on the 12 October 2008. What bothered them in particular was the unconditional support shown by the population towards “United Russia”, the leading party that received 88.4% of the votes.

Meanwhile, the voting situation for two contested regions remains unclear. Sunzhenskii and Malgobekskii are currently under the jurisdiction of Ingushetia, but before 1934 were administrative parts of Chechnya. Chechnya’s head of parliament has previously made clear that the status of these regions need to be decided in a fair manner. However, there are no documents other than those from 1934 that determine whether these two regions belong to Chechnya or Ingushetia. Official commissioner on Human Rights to the Chechen Republic Nurdi Nukhazhiev has also declared that Ingushetia does not have the right to lay claim to Chechen land. Nevertheless in recent times the question as to the status of Sunzhenskii and Malgobekskii has not been raised.

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