Rizvan Kurbanov: Bandit underground does not submit to Doku Umarov31.01.2012 | 21:34
They intend to create a media structure, activity of which will be aimed at combating the propaganda of Islamic radicalism, under the Plenipotentiary of the President in the North Caucasus Federal District. With the help of the so-called counter-propaganda the officials intend to win the information war against the militants. And while federal authorities are just beginning to operate in the region, there are those who can boast of real successes in countering extremism.
Rizvan Kurbanov has been just elected to the Duma, and has not still got an office in the building at Okhotny Ryad St. In Makhachkala, Kurbanov was the first deputy prime minister of Dagestan, was in charge of the power bloc and, according to many experts, was one of the most influential person in the republic. November 2010, he initiated a commission to adapt ex-combatants under the president of Dagestan. It included representatives of the Spiritual Board of Muslims, the Chamber of Attorneys, law enforcers, as well as many other structures. It seems that this committee was Kurbanov's brainchild.
GTimes correspondent met with Rizvan Kurbanov to discuss the commission's work and why Dagestan people go the woods.
- Why do so many people, especially young people, appear in underground?
-Religious propaganda, of course, is the main reason. When we started the work of this committee, it was our purpose. And we understood that the adherents of this ideology are using illiterate people in religious matters. It is very easy to confuse the ideas of jihad, it is easy to convince that to be a martyr - this is the highest grace for a Muslim. Therefore, the main goal of our commission - not even rescuing people from the woods, but to work with those who have not still gone there and who may refuse this way.
Kurbanov shows us a video with militants in the title role on his tablet. First, they are in the woods, then in Makhachkala, at the meeting of the commission. First we see the proud faces and hear pretentious speech in good Russian. Then they appear on the screen - but they are repenting, something vaguely speaking people. One feature: most people in the video are young people, almost children. For example, here is a smiling 17-year-old boy with assault rifle and a very young face. He hasn't still returned from the woods. Some others who have passed the commission for adaptation are already at home.
Rizvan Kurbanov determines the function of this committee as a channel to help the militants return to normal life. Another way, in his words, is to become victim of security forces officers during special operations. In Dagestan, there's almost a civil war. And it is real war. Kurbanov is also on the front lines. Those in the woods, they either file an appeal to the commission for adaptation or become enemies with all the consequences.
- How successful the commission is?
I won't deepen into figures, but I can say that this enormous project is bearing fruit. Under the commission's guarantees, there were cases when militants had surrendered even during special operations, when when people had walked into the building of the commission directly from the woods. At the moment, totally about fifty people have passed our commission, I do not know is it many or little, but it is the result of just one year of work. It would be many when there won't be any militants in the woods.
In accordance with the law, if a militant has left illegal armed group and laid down his arms then he is exempted from criminal liability. However, only in the event that during his stay in underground he has not committed other crimes. In fact, there are those who went home, and those who are in prison.
-How is the fate of the former militants, passed through your commission?
Within the commission, there are working groups tasked with communication with people. Members of the commission contact the head of the administration, the elders, and the public of the town or region where former militant lives and continue watching their fate. And not only when a former militant is free, but even if he is in prison. In each case we decide how to work. For example, there were two people who have come to perform jihad in Tatarstan. When they got into commission, we have realized that they didn't really understand what Islam is. Then we decided to send them in madrassas. You should have seen their eyes when they were at the commission for the first time, and the second time, in a month. They managed to explain that their ideology would have made them cannon fodder, but Islam did not call to kill anyone.
The critical situation in Dagestan was the result of many factors. Among them - the economic situation, corruption, undue rigidity of the power structures and ethnic and the inter-faith tensions. For example, recently in an interview to GTimes the head of one of Lezghian public organizations complained about the lack of access to power of a number of major ethnic communities in the country.