In the Russians' war against Shamil in the 1820s Karl E. Meyer writes that:
"... chivalric episodes are anomalies in the Caucasus. Excess on all sides is the common curse of this lofty isthmus. Its mountains have harboured clerical extremists and mass killers, audacious patriots and Mafia thugs, desperate outsiders and romantic rebels of every description, real of mythical....
When the war broke out, the Russian garrison numbered roughly 50,000 men. But when Shamil assumed command and united the mountaineers of Daghestan and Chechnya in a sustained guerrilla war, Russia needed 200,000 troops to replenish losses....
Grand Duke Mikhail Nikolaevich's troops systematically combed the mountains, valleys, and forests of Circassia, flushing out Cherkes tribesmen, driving them into the plains and to the seashore, or killing masses of them....
...As the grand duke laconically phrased it, 'It was necessary to exterminate half of the Mountaineers to compel the other half to lay down its arms.' "
Meyer, The Dust of Empire. New York: Public Affairs; 2004, p.147.
But there's more:
We read that in 1864 Prince Alexander Gorkachov, the tsar's long-serving foreign minister:
"Russia's position was the same as that of all civilized societies 'brought into contact with half-savage, nomad populations.' In such cases, he maintained, ' it always happens that the more civilized State is forced, in the interest of the security of its frontiers and its commercial relations, to exercise a certain ascendancy' over our neighbors of a turbulent and unsettled character. 'First there are raids and act of pillage to put down,' he went on. 'To put a stop to them, the tribes on the frontier have to be reduced to a state of more or less perfect submission... It is a peculiarity of Asiatics to respect nothing but visible and palpable force.' " (Meyer: p. 148.)
So how's this for a view of the people the Russians are up against:
A Caucasian nomad finds a genie who grants him one wish. The catch is that the nomad gets, but his neighbors get twice what he wishes for. The nomad says: "Poke out one of my eyes."
Terror leader sold out for $74
19jun06 POLICE have shot dead Chechen rebel leader Abdul-Khalim Sadulayev during a raid on a hideout in his home town of Argun, 14km east of Grozny.
It came as a result of an informant within his network - reportedly paid the equivalent of $74 for his information - in a blow to efforts to spread the increasingly Islam-inspired insurgency throughout southern Russia.
Sadulayev had been planning a terrorist attack in Argun to coincide with the Group of Eight summit of leading industrialised nations in Russia's second city, St Petersburg, in mid-July, Chechen Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov said. In combat fatigues, Mr Kadyrov posed for TV cameras next to a half-naked body identified as that of the rebel.
He said a close associate of Sadulayev's tipped off police about his whereabouts for the equivalent of $74.