Bennett Clifford – Russian (Re)centralization and its Effects on the Insurgency in the Caucasus: Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria

Bennett-CliffordBennett Clifford’s article “Russian (Re)centralization and its Effects on the Insurgency in the Caucasus: Dagestan, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria” was published in The UC Undergraduate Journal of Slavic and East/Central European Studies. Ben is a senior in the department.

This article examines the shifting distribution of insurgency related violence in the Russian Federation’s ethnic republics in the North Caucasus region after the end of the Second Chechen War (1999–2009). In the 1990s and early 2000s, the volatile Chechen Republic was the epicenter of insurgent activity. After the cessation of formal conflict, the Chechen Republic’s neighboring states began experiencing increased rates of violence. By evaluating the effects of direct presidential appointment in the Republic of Dagestan, the Republic of Ingushetia, and the Kabardino-Balkar Republic, I seek to demonstrate that there has been a change in the nature of insurgent violence in the North Caucasus. More specifically, the epicenter of tensions has shifted away from the Chechen Republic toward its neighboring republics as a result of Russia’s “power vertical” federalist policies, which divest governing power from local governments in favor of centralized control by Moscow. This strategy was first used by the Russian Federation in managing the Chechen Republic, but has subsequently been applied to other republics as well with deleterious effects on stability. Due to the overwhelming ethnic, religious, and political complexity of these republics, the current “top-down” model of federal governance creates the kind of sociopolitical conditions (e.g., clan-based competition, corruption, and ethnic conflict) that are most likely to spark insurgent reactions.

The article is available on

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