Roubles and Radicals in Dagestan

The main focus of the violence in the North Caucasus these days is in Dagestan, Chechnya's neighbour.

Shoot-outs between police and Islamist militants occur almost daily, and suicide bombings and assassinations have become common.

In response, the authorities use what many see as excessive force and the violence spirals still further.

In the past two years suicide bombings in the Moscow metro and a Moscow airport have been traced to the region.

In Dagestan it's a war that has touched almost every community and family, and one where differences between the opposing sides are apparently irreconcilable.

For the authorities, Dagestan is part of Russia and subject to its secular laws; for the militants the region should be a sharia state independent of Moscow.

After ten years trying to combat the militants and their appeal, Russian businessman Suleiman Kerimov has hit on a new idea - football.

Sports facilities and pitches are being built across this impoverished and deeply conservative Muslim republic, encouraging young boys and men to play on the pitch rather than join the militants in the forest, and girls to watch them instead of withdrawing behind the veil.

Dagestan's top club Anzhi Makhachkala has been bought up by the pro-Kremlin Dagestani billionaire and now he is buying world-class footballers, including Samuel Eto'o, currently the highest-paid player on the planet.

Lucy Ash asks whether this is just bread and circuses for the masses or whether it is making a real difference in this restive Russian republic.

(Image: A gunman. Credit: Greater Manchester Police)

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25 minutes

Last on

Sun 27 Nov 2011 04:05 GMT

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