Tuesday, October 15, 2013

All the Statuses Are Not Quo

By Rabin Man Shakya, Ph D

In one of my previous blog stories, I had mentioned that I stayed ten years in the former USSR doing my Masters and PhD in Journalism. Although most my years in the former Soviet Union were spent in Minsk, capital of Belorussia, I had the opportunity to travel across the Soviet Union.

As everybody knows the former Communist Super Power consisted of 15 Soviet republics and among them I was able to take trips to eight of 'em: Russia, Ukraine, Belorussia, Latvia, Lithuania, Georgia, Uzbekistan and Moldavia. But that's not what I am going to write about.

In 1987, I got an opportunity to be in Makhachkala, the capital of Dagestan. I remember I stayed in Makhachkala at one of the hostels of Dagestan State University.

I remember meeting some interesting people on my travel to Makhachkala and visiting some places of interest. I remember meeting the assistant dean of the Philology Faculty of the DSU. Likewise, I remember going to the beach of Caspian Sea and visiting Makhachkala Grand Mosque.

Travelling back to my youthful time, I remember Makhachkala was such a peaceful city during the Soviet period.

Things keep changing. All the statuses are not quo especially after the collapse of the communist empire. A lot of water has flowed under the bridge of river Volga. ( I saw river Volga when I was in the city of Kazan in 1985  and also was in Sochi in 1986.)

Meanwhile, under the headline "A Russian Region neither at War Nor At Peace, But Facing a Crackdown", the New York Times reported  on Oct.10, 2013 from Makhachkala: "The region not exactly at war but never having achieved peace is mired in what resembles a Latin American style dirty war, a conflict that is strung out and low grade, and rife with abuses. Abductions have been a signature, if unacknowledged, element of Russia's anti-insurgency tactics for years."

The New York Times news story detailed the increasing violence, abductions and disappearances of the people. The news story added:"The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are still four months away, but resdents of this city, the capital of Dagestan, say they have been feeling the effects for months. The Russian authorities determined not to have the festivities marred by a terrorist attack, are clamping down on the seething North Caucasus region-- which lies uncomfortably close to the Olympic city--picking up people suspected of being militants and detaining them without charges, HR activists say."

There is no doubt that Dagestan has witnessed a lot of vicissitudes after the fall of the Communist power house.  There was that horrible Dagestan massacre that took place in 1999. On Dec 15, 2011, Gadhimurat Kamalov, an investigative journalist and founder of independent "Chernovik" newspaper shot dead in an apparent assassination. The origin of Boston Marathon bombing suspects Tamerlan Tsarnaev and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev are also from Dagestan.

Oh, well, what can we say? Things have their own way of happening, though precautionary and timely measures can prevent many man-made catastrophies.

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