(CNN) Priest and six law enforcement officers killed in attacks on synagogues and church in Russia’s Dagestan

(CNN) Priest and six law enforcement officers killed in attacks on synagogues and church in Russia’s Dagestan.

On March 22, Tajik recruits to ISIS-K perpetrated the Crocus City Hall attack. This blog responded with (CNN) ISIS claims responsibility for attack in busy Moscow-area concert venue that left at least 60 dead. Quoting,

This will force action by Kadyrov, with troops withdrawn from Ukraine.

This deserves explanation. What does Ramzan Kadyrov have to do with Tajiks? What do Tajiks, who entered Russia through Kyrgyzstan in close proximity to the lower Volga, have to do with Chechnya and the Caucasus as a whole? There are two major concentrations of Islam in Russia, in the lower Volga, and the Caucasus. Surveys from 20 years ago indicated that, in contrast to the Caucasus, the lower Volga was not radicalized, with apathy towards issues outside of Russia.

The explanation manifests in (CNN) Russia accuses Ukraine of mounting ‘sabotage’ attack across border. Quoting,

The Freedom for Russia Legion, Russian Volunteer Corps, and associated groups are inspirational to ethnic secession.  In the near term, the [typo corrected] Caucasus will become restive, awakening old   memories and yearnings.

The degraded Russian army is incapable  of a  third Chechen or first Dagestan war. Only Kadyrov has a credible chance of nipping a conflict in the bud, though even this is doubtful.

The Tajik connection is not based on geography, though radicalization may be creeping through the lower Volga. It is based on information, which inherently supports non-local connections.

Dagestan is potentially a greater threat to Russia than Chechnya. It is much larger, and much of it is covered by the North Caucasus mountains. Across the Caspian, only a sliver of land blocks it from Tajikistan.

A factor not explicitly part of Crane Brinton’s criteria in The Anatomy of Revolution is geographic sanctuary for revolutionists. Quoting Revolution in Venezuela,

As noted, the accession of the extremists would be facilitated by rural sanctuary. But “melting away” of the rebels into the countryside may be hindered by rural majorities of Maduro supporters. Open sources do not illuminate. This exhausts Brinton analogies.

Dagestan is potentially that sanctuary. There has been much speculation on how Russia might disintegrate. This mechanism has renewed attraction:

  • An alignment of disparate interests coalesces. They are not predominantly Muslim, though the initial refuge is the North Caucasus mountains.
  • Scattered throughout Russia, the  interests are peripheral, far from the center of power, eluding the most pervasive surveillance.
  • The flash point is the conscription of Muslim men.
  • The magnitude of the inciting event could be as small as the Tunisian fruit seller.
  • The peripheral interests dig their way towards the center. Russia has been called a country of one city; the center is Moscow.

Putin is not completely unaware of this problem, though his confidence it can be managed is likely misplaced. The demotion of Nikolai Patrushev must be considered in this context. (Reuters) Putin to keep demoted ally Patrushev on Russia’s Security Council. Patrushev is personally dangerous to Putin, which is precisely why Patrushev remains a member of the security council.

Keep your friends close and your enemies closer.