Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus

Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus
   Paramilitary organization. Sometimes known as the Confederation of the Peoples of the Caucasus (KNK), the Confederation of the Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus (Konfederatsiia gorskikh narodov Kavkaza) is a defunct paramilitary group comprised of volunteers from across the North Caucasus, particularly Chechens. The confederacy formed in the last days of perestroika, and took part in Abkhazia’s struggle for independence from Georgia. The organization was, in part, an attempt to reconstitute the unity of Muslim Caucasian peoples that existed in the early Soviet period, when the North Caucasus region was constituted as the Mountain Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic (ASSR). Its leadership hoped to create a so-called Caucasian Switzerland with extensive cultural and political autonomy for the indigenous peoples of the region. The mountaineers have been accused of war crimes and human rights violations by the Georgians in relation to their activities in the 1993 siege of Sukhumi, during which many civilians and prisoners of war died. Under the direction of Musa Shanibov, the group took a stridently anti-Kremlin position during the first Chechen War, but political changes in Kabardino-Balkariya ultimately made the confederation’s open opposition to the central government unpopular. In such an environment, Shanibov’s antiMoscow stance weakened the organization and undermined the organization’s ability to influence policy in the region. The group has been inactive since the assassination of its second leader, the Chechen parliamentarian Yusup Soslambekov, in 2000.
   See also Islamism; Mafia.

Historical Dictionary of the Russian Federation. . 2010.

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