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Russia's president admits internal strife in the Caucasus

MOSCOW — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev acknowledged Wednesday that growing unrest in the southern republic of Ingushetia is rooted in unresolved domestic problems such as corruption and poverty.

The statement was a stark admission of the deep troubles tearing at the Caucasus — and a departure for an administration that has generally preferred to downplay violence in its restive southern republics or blame bloodshed on foreign meddling.

"You talked about the influence of a number of factors, including international ones such as funding of terrorists, religious extremism. These external factors do exist," Medvedev said during a meeting with security officials. "But the main cause is inside the country, however sad it sounds."

Socioeconomic problems are driving the violence, Medvedev said, according to Interfax news service, including "unemployment, clans who could not care less about people … as well as corruption, which has really become very widespread among law enforcement authorities."

Months of brazen daylight attacks on government facilities and midnight disappearances at the hands of security officers came to a peak Monday, when a suicide bomber rammed a truck packed with explosives into police headquarters in Ingushetia's main city, killing 25 people and wounding more than 100.

Smaller attacks are a routine reality in Ingushetia; on Wednesday, an intelligence agent was shot dead. But the scale of Monday's attack has forced the government to reassure the public that it will restore peace in the republics of Ingushetia, Dagestan and Chechnya.

Russia's president admits internal strife in the Caucasus 08/19/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 19, 2009 11:57pm]
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