No change in the Russian Caucasus. The winter olympics amid a local war
The North Caucasus has been the most unstable region of the Russian Federation since the collapse of the Soviet Union. Considering the scale of violence, the conflict in the region should be regarded as a local civil war between the Salafi Islamic armed underground and the secular authorities of the North Caucasus republics, supported by the security services. The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has made himself de facto independent from Moscow, holds a particularly strong position in the region and his ambition is to gain control of the neighbouring territories. The Russian leadership, which sees the security of the Winter Olympics in Sochi as its top priority, is facing a strategic choice between trying to integrate the North Caucasus with the rest of the federation, or isolating the region and accepting the existence of an informal "internal abroad” within Russia. The cultural processes taking place in the region, including Islamisation, de-modernisation and de-Russification, have been driving the North Caucasus ever further away from the rest of Russia, strengthening a mutual sense of foreignness.