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The Republic of Dagestan: Where the Boston Bombers Came From
According to news reports, the Most Dangerous Place in Europe is the Republic of Dagestan in Russia.
As many people are now planning their summer vacations, and Trip Advisor ** have an entry for Dagestan, I am just writing to warn you to steer clear.
There is a very high risk of being shot, stabbed, blown up by a bomb, tortured or perhaps just disappear off the face of the planet, should your choose to go to Dagestan, which let's face it, you have probably never heard of anyway.
Dagestan is not that big a country with only 2.5 million inhabitants, and lots of really high and inaccessible mountain ranges.
It is situated right next to Chechnya, which you will have heard of due to their ongoing civil war.
Its southern borders sit on the Caspian Sea coast in South Western Russia, as you can see on the map below where it has been kindly highlighted by Wikipedia.
** Don't bother looking up the Trip Advisor entry for Dagestan. It is blank.
A Bit About Dagestan
I could have included a Google map with directions, but really that is just encouraging some form of self-flagellation, because YOU DO NOT WANT TO GO THERE, You really don't, and I am not encouraging you by giving you directions.
Dagestan, like I said, is this little autonomous country and it is a federal subject of Russia. It's main industries are oil and gas which come ashore from the Caspian Sea and are then fed in giant tubes through the country to the mother state.
So right away you know it is ugly as well as dangerous.
It's other industries are metalworking, carpet-weaving (you MUST have heard of Dagestan carpets - what do you mean no?), cattle-rearing, agriculture and horticulture.
The people are very poor, except for those who run about with Kalashnikov rifles demanding protection money off anybody who gets in their way.
Why is Dagestan Dangerous?
In a nutshell, the country is corrupt through and through, and overrun with Islamic terrorists.
Dagestan is one of the most ethnically diverse places on the planet, with more than 30 languages spoken.
That is another reason not to want to go there on vacation.
30 languages?? Just think of the size of translator book you would have to carry with you.
The country's population is 95% Muslim, and only 5% Russian. Although the official language is Russian, it is doubtful if many people actually speak it.
The average age of Dagestan people is 25, and the birth rate is now climbing rapidly.
For the last 15 - 20 years, Islamic groups have become crime overlords in this poor country, making exhorbitant demands of their fellow men, in return for not bombing their businesses.
Outwardly, they are demanding that Dagestan becomes a Sharia state, but many politicians believe this is just a front for organised crime, from which they profit greatly.
Magomedali Magomedov was the president of Dagestan from 1987 - 2006.
Now I'm not saying anything about the man - I don't even know him - but in 2006 Russian President Vladimir Putin appointed a certain Mukhul G Aliyev to succeed him, to try to contain the rampant corruption in Dagestan which was becoming a national embarrassment.
Poor Mukhul was doomed to failure from the word 'go'.
This was because a certain Magomedsalam M Magomedov had his eye on the prime spot. This was the predecessor's son, and he was mightily pissed off when someone else got the job he thought should be his.
Perhaps previously unbeknown to the rest of the world, his father had contained the violence in Dagestan by making deals with the terrorists, and all with the Kremlin's consent, because many Islamic clans were permitted lucrative, tax-free concessions.
Mr Magomedov was an outspoken opponent during his Mr Aliyev's term of office, and indeed in his final year, episodes of extreme violence doubled, and some believe this violence may have been part of a strange underhand election campaign designed to manipulate the Russian President into making a change of leadership in Dagestan.
If so, it worked, because in 2010, new Russian President Dmitri A Medvedev appointed Magomedsalam M Magomedov to take over from Mukhul G Aliyev in an attempt to abate the escalating violence, with the full knowledge that this could be done through bribery.
Has the Violence decreased in Dagestan?
It has now become so bad that the police will not patrol the streets in uniform.
They frequently cover their faces when interviewing suspects, or even when doing random car checks.
They do not allow their photographs to be taken., so fearful are they of reprisals.
There are bombings, slayings and reports of people disappearing daily, sometimes several times a day.
Militants openly walk about with their Kalashnikov rifles.
They frequently target shops that sell alcohol. The shopkeeper and customers get told to leave, and moments later the business gets bombed.
They feel they are doing Allah's work here, and no doubt emptying the till before they leave.
WARNING: Hide your duty free well if visiting Dagestan. It could be you next.
Many of the young Muslim's are being enticed into the world of terrorism through social networking sites.
More than 20 terrorists groups are targeting the young Muslims and encouraging them to become online jihadists through Facebook. Indeed the Dagestan government has now opened a Facebook page to try and dissuade those youngsters.
Until those self-same young Muslims mature and their testosterone levels calm down a bit, I would strongly advise against visiting Dagestan, even in July when the mean daily temperature hits 80 degrees Fahrenheit and admiring the cool blue turquoise waters of the Caspian Sea while lying on a wide sandy beach seems like a good idea.