NEWYou can now listen to Fox News articles!
Protests have erupted across Russia over the past week following a new decree by Russian President Vladimir Putin calling for 300,000 men of fighting age to be added to Moscow’s ranks and sent to fight in Ukraine.
But one region in particular grabbed headlines after hundreds were rounded up in Russia’s first mobilization order since World War II in an area known as Dagestan.
Located in the high Caucasus Mountains of southern Russia and sharing a border with two former Soviet states, Georgia and Azerbaijan, Dagestan’s complex history has sparked the outcry seen today.
“The Putin regime has pushed people to the brink,” a political refugee from Dagestan in Ukraine told Fox News Digital.
PUTIN’S CALL FOR RUSSIAN CONSCRIPTS WILL REQUIRE WEAPONS MOSCOW DOESN’T HAVE, SAYS NATO CHIEF
Ali Charinsky fled the Kremlin in 2016 after being accused of “justifying terrorism” in his work to cover human rights abuses not only in the mountainous regions of the Caucasus but also in areas such as Crimea.
The political refugee, now based in Odessa, Ukraine, explained that anger over Putin’s latest order in his home region stems from decades of oppression.
After assuming the presidency in 2000 and his subsequent 22-year reign (including a second term as prime minister from 2008 to 2012), Putin prioritized an agenda of unification and began to crack down on religious radicalism in the years after the wars. September 11 attacks. in the United States, Charinsky said.
Human rights advocates have argued that Putin’s security measures gave credence to oppressive policies targeting ethnic minorities in areas such as Dagestan, a predominantly Muslim region.
Aggression among ethnic minorities toward the Kremlin predates Putin’s presidency, and the turmoil in Dagestan arose with the Chechen struggle for independence after the fall of the Soviet Union in December 1991.
A series of deadly wars raged in Chechnya, which borders Dagestan’s western border, beginning in 1994 before then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin signed a peace treaty in 1996 granting extensive autonomy.
But in 1999, Putin, in his first term as Russian prime minister, nullified the treaty and launched a decades-long military campaign. Towards the end of World War II, it was estimated It was believed that 160,000 civilians have been killed.
Since then, Russia has grappled with simmering insurgencies in the Caucasus mountains.
“A partisan movement was formed in Dagestan, so [it became] the epicenter of those who still give armed resistance to Russia,” Charinsky said in an interview translated with the help of the Ukrainian Frontline Media Platform.
But Moscow’s attempts to crack down on radicalism created a system of rampant police brutality that was unbiased about its goals in Dagestan.
RUSSIA DETAILS WHO WILL AVOID CONSCRIPTION AND WAR IN UKRAINE
“The security forces in the fight against the partisans began to commit atrocities, they began to put pressure on relatives and acquaintances,” he said, adding that anyone could be taken off the street and brutally interrogated under the pretext of counterterrorism.
“They subjected people to terrible torture in the hope that they would confess something,” he said.
Before fleeing Russia, Charinsky said he personally saw people being dragged off the streets into unmarked cars and described how a relative of his was illegally detained for two days and tortured before being released.
“In the end, they just let him go and forgot about him,” he said, noting that neither he nor his family have ever found out what his relative was suspected of.
Charinsky explained that years of oppressive policies have created a damaging view of ethnic minorities, with reports this week suggesting that minority groups such as Dagestanis have been disproportionately targeted in Putin’s war effort.
“The fact is that everything is chaotic in Russia,” he said, stating that most Russians do not want to fight in Ukraine.
“When the full-fledged mobilization had already begun, they began to get all the juice out of Dagestan, as the largest republic in the Caucasus in terms of population,” he continued. “They took everyone.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Charinsky said the level of opposition in Dagestan has taken even his own residents by surprise, saying, “Putin has pushed them to the breaking point with his aggressive policies.”
“The fact is that everything is chaotic in Russia,” he said. “For every Dagestani and Caucasian in general, now it’s a fight for his relatives.” [lives].”