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In North Caucasus, FSB Shifts Its Targets From Islamic Radicals To Ukrainian Spies – OpEd

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In no other part of the Russian Federation has the FSB generated positive statistics for itself by arresting or more often killing those it targets than in the North Caucasus, where for more than 20 years, it has gone after those it has identified as Islamist radicals.

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Rights activists say that the FSB has often made that charge on the basis of massive falsification of the supposed evidence and then killing those it goes after before any trial is held or railroading the few brought to trial to guilty verdicts (kavkazr.com/a/shirochayshie-vozmozhnosti-dlya-faljsifikatsiy-kak-fsb-boretsya-s-terrorizmom-na-severnom-kavkaze/31842365.html).

Now, reports suggest, the Russian security service is using the same tactics in that region to go after those it has labelled “Ukrainian spies,” thereby fulfilling its commitment to combatting the Kremlin’s enemy de jour (kavkazr.com/a/radi-galochki-kak-fsb-ischet-ukrainskih-natsionalistov-na-yuge-i-kavkaze/31884044.html).

SOVA director Aleksandr Verkhovsky says that the FSB in its actions is fulfilling a propaganda function rather than a law enforcement one. There may be some Ukrainian agents in the North Caucasus, he acknowledges, but says that they aren’t numerous and that the FSB is acting in this case just as it has against “Islamist radicals.”

Other independent experts like Sergei Babinets of the Committee against Torture fully agree and suggest that the security service is once again using its powers and ability to hide behind ostensibly judicial procedures to provide fodder from the Kremlin’s propaganda mills rather than protect the Russian population.

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Paul Goble

Paul Goble is a longtime specialist on ethnic and religious questions in Eurasia. Most recently, he was director of research and publications at the Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy. Earlier, he served as vice dean for the social sciences and humanities at Audentes University in Tallinn and a senior research associate at the EuroCollege of the University of Tartu in Estonia. He has served in various capacities in the U.S. State Department, the Central Intelligence Agency and the International Broadcasting Bureau as well as at the Voice of America and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Mr. Goble maintains the Window on Eurasia blog and can be contacted directly at [email protected] .

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