The situation in the North Caucasus has deteriorated, but the EU has devoted few resources to it and has had almost no impact.
Under President Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya has become brutally repressive and even begun targeted killings of opponents abroad. The region has not even become more stable: lawlessness is spreading throughout the North Caucasus. In 2010, violence spread from Chechnya and Ingushetia to Kabardino-Balkaria (which saw more acts of violence last summer than Chechnya), engulfed more regions of Dagestan, and hit Moscow in major terror attacks on the metro in March. A suicide bomber also attacked the Chechen parliament in October. Women came under increasing pressure to wear headscarves and Kadyrov continued to clamp down on freedom of expression. President Dmitry Medvedev raised the deteriorating situation in the region through the Presidential Council for Civil Society Institutions and Human Rights, which includes leading Russian civil society advocates.
In July, High Representative Catherine Ashton expressed concern about the situation in the North Caucasus and called on Russia “to work towards putting an end to the climate of impunity and fear in the North Caucasus in general and Chechnya in particular”. The issue was also raised during the Human Rights Dialogue (see component 16). In December, the European Commission – which is already the largest foreign donor of humanitarian aid in Chechnya – approved a further €2 million in assistance for internally displaced persons. The European Parliament also passed a critical resolution in October, protesting in particular against the mistreatment of Oleg Orlov, one of the winners of the 2009 Sakharov Prize, for supposedly “defaming” Kadyrov. But although some member states such as the Czech Republic want to press the issue with Russia, most show little interest. As a result, the EU has had almost no impact. While Brussels sees the North Caucasus as a human rights issue, Russia maintains that it is an internal law-and-order issue.