David Essel recommends the following review of the Chechnya situation from the Economist print edition:
EVEN by the standards of the Caucasus, the two little-noticed rocket-propelled grenade attacks in March on the United Nations' office compound in Nazran, the main city of the republic of Ingushetia, were worrying. One of Russia's poorest provinces, it hosts thousands of refugees, and is supposedly a safe base for international agencies working in neighbouring Chechnya. The bombardment gave the lie to Kremlin claims that life in the region is “normal”. But the real story of the decision by the World Health Organisation, the World Food Programme, UNICEF and others to pull their expat staff out to Vladikavkaz has a still more alarming aspect.
The Economist understands that the attacks followed a dispute about money between the UN's security department and the bit of the Ingush interior ministry responsible for guarding their compound. The UN apparently resisted a demand by the guards that it pay for all their other work at the compound (which is used by other outfits too).
Officially, all sides deny any disagreement. A UN official in the region pooh-poohs a link with the grenade attacks as “half-arsed”. Yet some UN-niks have been heard to say that their supposed protectors have been harassing them. Curiously, one of the two grenades narrowly missed the building used by the UN security team. The other one hit it.
The unlikely good cop in this sorry tale seems to be Russia's infamous Federal Security Service. It warned the UN about further violence, and of a serious threat of kidnapping. Foreign UN staff now avoid even travelling through Ingushetia, for example en route to Chechnya. The Ingush government has reportedly offered sympathy but little else. No wonder: bombings, killings and kidnappings are commonplace there, driven by a dizzying mix of politics, religion and revenge. Two members of the Ingush president's family have been snatched. The security services are both victims and perpetrators of the chaos.
For all its oil-fuelled bravado, the Kremlin all too often fails to meet its people's basic needs, relying instead on outside agencies and charities (it routinely accuses the latter of espionage). It seems that Russia—a permanent member of the UN Security Council—may be unable to protect that organisation's staff from its own state servants. Unable, or unwilling: it can be hard to tell if corruption happens against the Kremlin's wishes, or with its blessing.