Russia forms N.Caucasus district to take under control Muslims
The new district will include Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia and the Stavropol Region.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev merged on Tuesday seven Muslim regions into a new district and appointed a powerful new envoy in a bid to take under control all Muslim population, tightening its grip of North Caucasus.
The mountainous region includes Chechnya, Ingushetia and Dagestan, Reuters said.
In televised comments, Medvedev announced the creation of a North Caucasus Federal District and named Alexander Khloponin, governor of the Siberian region of Krasnoyarsk, as his envoy.
Exiled Chechen rebel leader Akhmed Zakayev said last November that the Kremlin would create the new district before greatly boosting troop numbers in the region.
Echoing Georgian and Russian media reports, Zakayev said the Kremlin would boost its army there in order to tighten its grip on the region.
A former businessman with no ties to the region, Khloponin will report directly to edvedev and hold the rank of deputy prime minister.
Khloponin will also hold the title of deputy prime minister under Vladimir
"You have achieved a lot, above all in social and economic projects, and it is this that is in extreme need in the North Caucasus," Medvedev told him during a televised meeting.
In addition to Dagestan, Ingushetia and Chechnya, the new region also will include the Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia and the Stavropol Region.
Previously, these territories were grouped with others in a much larger unit called the Southern Administrative District.
One of the most populous regions in the mainly Muslim north Caucasus, Chechnya which declared independency after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 but was attacked by Russian forces in two wars since the mid-1990s.
Still low-level insurgency continues in Muslim states controlled by Russia.
Human rights groups have repeatedly accused the authorities of serious abuses including house burning, extra-judicial killings, torture and illegal punishment.
Amnesty International also said in its 2009 report on Caucasus that so-called the counter-terrorism operation that the Russian authorities declared there gave a green light tohuman right violations by government forces in Chechnya.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, widely seen as the most powerful leader in the North Caucasus, said he welcomed the move and was looking forward to "close cooperation" with Khloponin, state-run news agency ITAR-TASS reported.
"Khloponin has no experience at all of the North Caucasus." he said. "But as a businessman Khloponin has a good feeling for financial flows."
Mr Khloponin, a former businessman and trained economist, served on
the board of directors of Norilsk Nickel from 1996 to 2001. He was
elected governor of Krasnoyarsk region in 2002 and is a member of the
ruling United Russia party.
Agencies Last Mod: 21 Ocak 2010, 12:06