This text explores the turmoil of the North Caucasus. Crisscrossed by billion-dollar oil pipelines and facing Iran and Turkey, this predominantly Moslem region is perhaps the most strategic in the Russian Federation. It is also the most unstable. Ferocious resistance meant that Russia took almost three centuries to conquer it and the declaration of independence by Chechnya, with the vicious war that ensued in 1994, laid bare enduring tensions between the indigenous peoples in Moscow. Beyond Chechnya, many other ethnic groups, like the Dagestanis, Adyegei and Balkars struggle to preserve their identities although none has so far taken up arms. The stakes are high: for the North Caucasians, ethnic pride and even survival as distinct people; for the Russians, control over the huge oil resources of the Caspian Sea and territorial integrity of the state.
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co Ltd