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Interview on BBC World Service Newshour

Interview on BBC World Service Newshour, June 24, 2013
Dagestan and Boston special


Interview for a BBC NewsHour Special Edition on the Boston Bombing and the situation in the North Caucasus, a live simulcast from Boston and Dagestan, includes a rare interview with Zubeidat Tsarnaeva (Tamarlan and Dzhokar’s mother), imams from the mosque Tamarlan attended in Dagestan, Russian officials, and more. Broadcast on most NPR stations throughout the U.S. and worldwide on the BBC World Service.

My portion of the interview begins at 35:06 but I suggest listening from 26:30 to get the full context.

Listen to the Interview



CNN – The Truth about the Chechen Threat


April 22nd, 2013

by Robert W. Schaefer, Special to CNN

“As we all struggle to make sense of the Boston bombings, and the revelation that the two suspects are ethnic Chechens, there has been a rush to reacquaint ourselves with the troubled North Caucasus region in the hope that we might be able to answer questions like “why did this happen,” or “are we under attack again?” And as the airwaves and the blogospheres are swarmed with facts and opinions, it’s worth taking a step back to put this deluge of information in some context.

It’s not as though we haven’t heard of Chechnya before, it’s just that it’s one of those places that is only occasionally in the news before fading again as our attention is pulled elsewhere. Yet it isn’t actually all that long ago that we were hearing about the two wars of independence that Chechnya fought against Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. And although we may remember President Bill Clinton drawing comparisons between Boris Yeltsin’s efforts to quell the Chechen independence movement with the U.S. Civil War, many may not be aware that the same law that Yeltsin used to declare Russia’s independence from the Soviet Union gave Chechnya (and many other Russian regions) the legal basis to do the same. It was this that created a constitutional crisis that almost destroyed Russia in the mid-1990’s, and created the conditions that resulted in a de-facto independent Chechen republic from 1996-1999.”

Read the full piece here:


Kadyrov not on “Magnitsky List.”

Golden Gun

Ramzan Kadyrov didn’t make the “Magnitsky List.” The list comes out of the Magnitsky Act, a bipartisan proposal signed into law in DEC 2012 designed to punish Russians responsible for the death of Sergei Magnitsky by prohibiting entrance into the US and access to the banking system. The list came out last week and two Chechens were mentioned — the accused assassins of the Russian edition of Forbes, Paul Klebnikov, and former Kadyrov bodyguard Umar Israilov who was preparing to testify against Kadyrov. But Kadyrov himself didn’t make the list? Why not? Is the rumor of an additional “secret list” true?



Chechnya to host Russian Cup Soccer Final

Unknown Unbelievable. So last week the Russian Football (Soccer) Association fines the Chechen team and cancels games at the stadium because of one of Kadyrov’s outbursts and safety concerns. Now it’s safe enough to host the Russian Cup Final? Just another part of the Information Operations Campaign to “prove” to everyone how safe Chechnya is and what a lovely place it’s become since Putin and Kadyrov took control. Read full story here:–sow.html


Kadyrov’s Village Burning

8189765 Part of Kadyrov’s Village has caught on fire. For years now, Kadyrov has pushed an ambitious reconstruction plan – partly as a way to “prove” that Chechnya is stable, and partly to keep employing fighting-aged men and keep them from joining the insurgency (the blue-collar effect). However, almost all of these beautiful buildings are plagued by poor materials and shoddy workmanship. Read full article here:



Georgia trains Chechens?



Georgia ran a boot camp of Chechen warriors to prep them for a mission in Russia’s North Caucasus, the Georgian ombudsman claimed in an April 1 parliamentary presentation of his annual report on the state of human rights.

Ombudsman Ucha Naniashvili told lawmakers that the Georgian interior ministry under President Mikheil Saakashvili pulled together a force of over a hundred exiles from Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus, armed and coached them, and promised them passage to Russia. The report assumes that the alleged Chechen gambit was Georgia’s way of getting back at Moscow for Russia’s occupation of the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since 2008.

The allegations come as perhaps an unintentional gift for Moscow, whose long-running claims of Georgia sponsoring North Caucasus fighters Tbilisi used to attribute to seasonal fits of paranoia. Under the new government of Prime Minister Bidzina Ivanishili, Tbilisi is seeking to mend fences with Moscow, while, at the same time, every busying itself with investigationsinto the past government.   Yet, why it now falls to Georgia’s ombudsman to unveil this alleged covert operation may not be immediately clear to some. The report mainly focuses on human rights violations that were allegedly committed by Georgian forces against the fighters and their relatives after an August 2012 standoff, but delves into details far beyond that.

Citing only anonymous sources and gun registration documents, the ombudsman claims that interior ministry officials picked the Chechens up at the Tbilisi airport, took them to rented apartments and gave them guns, driver licenses, “documents and other things they would need.”

The fighters supposedly were trained at two military bases near the Georgian capital.

See full article here:


Ingushetia’s Prime Minister accused of helping insurgents










MOSCOW, April 2 – RAPSI. State Duma Deputy representing Chechnya Shamsail Saraliyev has asked Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika to look into allegations that Musa Chiliyev, the prime minister of Ingushetia, is financing local militants, Izvestia writes on Tuesday.

Read full article here:


“Superb” – Modern Warfare Review





“This is a superb book in many ways. I recommend it to all who have even just a general interest in the War on Terror, or the political-military history of the Caucasus region, or the current state of overall counterinsurgency warfare theory. All those things are discussed, clearly and in detail, in the well organized and smoothly written text of the book.”

Modern Warfare, Issue #4 (March-April 2013 Issue). Used with permission.

See full review at


2012 Independent Publishers Book Awards Bronze Medal



Winner of the Bronze Medal for Foreign Affairs, 2012


BEST OF 2011, Kirkus Reviews


Named to Kirkus Reviews “Best of 2011”