Makhachkala Experiences First Special Operation in Five Years

first_imgOn March 11, government forces in Makhachkala, Dagestan, killed a suspected rebel. According to official sources, the suspect had been plotting a terrorist attack on government agencies. Reportedly, the authorities found a machine gun, ammunition and an improvised explosive device (IED) at the site of the man’s killing. Visual materials provided by the Russian National Antiterrorist Committee indicate that the man was surrounded in a communal living area in the Dagestani capital. The official statement also informed that the suspect was previously convicted of terrorism-related crimes. Allegedly, he was killed after firing shots at the government agents (Nac.gov.ru, March 11).To carry out the special operation, the authorities introduced a so-called counter-terrorism operation regime in a central area of the city (Chernovik, March 11). Some media outlets pointed out this was the first counter-terrorism operation regime in Makhachkala since 2016. The identity of the suspect was not officially released, but according to some reports, he was a 56-year-old man and, in the past, served 17 years in prison on terrorism-related charges. His sentence was commuted on the grounds of poor health (Kavkazsky Uzel, March 13). For a person convicted of terrorism to be released from a Russian prison on poor health grounds, he or she must truly be critically ill. It is unclear what threat to society this individual posed. Given the low regard for law among the Russian security services, the suspect may have been killed simply because government agents considered him to be a threat a priori (see EDM, February 4).Dagestan used to be an important hotspot of separatist insurgency in the North Caucasus. After the active phase of the second Russian-Chechen war was concluded with the defeat of proponents of Chechen independence, most of the violent deaths related to the insurgency took place in this easternmost regional republic, peaking in 2010–2011. A sharp almost three-fold drop in violence levels occurred in Dagestan as recently as 2017. Lately, the numbers of recorded victims of violence have been in the single digits (Kavkazsky Uzel). The initial plunge coincided with the appointment of Vladimir Vasiliev as the acting governor of Dagestan in 2017. Vasiliev, who had a background in the Russian interior ministry, became the first person of non-Dagestani origin in contemporary Russia to lead the republic. However, other factors may have also precipitated the rapid decrease in the levels of rebel violence in Dagestan. One of them was the outflow of Islamist radicals to the Middle East (Novaya Gazeta, July 28, 2015; Crisisgroup.org, March 16, 2016). The exact numbers of Dagestanis who left their country to join militants in Syria and Iraq are unknown, but estimates usually point to several thousand individuals (Kavkazsky Uzel, January 31, 2017). Despite the correlation between the outflow of radicals and the decrease in the number of attacks in the region, some low level of rebel violence continued in Dagestan.The eventual decline of the North Caucasus insurgency can hardly be explained by the exodus of radicals alone. Moscow may additionally have been successful in disrupting the regional elites’ circles that co-existed with the rebel groups and were either unable or unwilling to crush the militants using all of the government’s might. This was achieved through a rapid succession of newly appointed regional governors and a massive increase in funding. After 2010, none of the three governors of Dagestan served a full four-year term. Unable to repair the Dagestani bureaucracy at once, Moscow instead appears to have adopted the strategy of short governor terms and massive dismissals of officials at the local level. The disruption of ruling elites in Dagestan seems to have worked to an extent. Moscow’s success was supported by a large increase in the cash flows into the republic. In 2020, Dagestan remained among the most lavishly subsidized regions of the Russian Federation (second only to annexed Crimea). The region received the equivalent of about $2 billion from Moscow, including a nearly 50 percent increase in outlays compared to 2019 (Forbes.ru, March 11).Despite the vast increases in financial aid for Dagestan, there are some indications that it has been inefficient for the economy even if it helped to quell the insurgency (Riadergent.ru, January 27). Incidentally, the first counterterrorism operation in Makhachkala in five years took place under the tutelage of Colonel General Sergei Melikov, a career military officer with experience of fighting in Chechnya during the Russian-Chechen wars. Melikov was appointed acting governor of Dagestan in October 2020. His predecessor, Vladimir Vasiliev (also a colonel general), ended his service after two (since formal confirmation by the Dagestani parliament) or three years (since appointment by the president of Russia).In modern Russia, as a rule, only individuals from the titular ethnic groups were allowed to lead republics in the North Caucasus. In Dagestan, leaders came either from the Avar or Dargin ethnic groups. The ethnic identity of Sergei Melikov is somewhat complex. His father was a Lezgin (another Dagestani minority), but he was born and grew up outside Dagestan. He is said to be a self-proclaimed Christian Orthodox even though Lezgins traditionally are adherents of Islam (mostly Sunni but also some Shia) (Islamnews.ru, October 6, 2020). Melikov has another connection to Dagestan, albeit somewhat tragic—his stepson Dmitry Serkov was killed in the territory in 2007. Serkov was a commander in the (since disbanded) Vityaz special forces unit (TASS, July 28, 2016). Besides, Melikov may not be completely oblivious to his ethnic roots. One indication of this is Melikov’s proposal to endow Derbent with a special status, which would mean more funding for the city (Molodyozh Dagestana, December 23, 2020). To be sure, Derbent is an ancient settlement with many unique historical artifacts, but it is also notably a regional center of Lezgins, who have traditionally lived in what is now southern Dagestan and northern Azerbaijan.Does Melikov embody a more stable gubernatorial solution for Dagestan, or is he another transient figure in Moscow’s trial-and-error scheme in the troubled republic? Only time will tell. For now, pouring in resources has helped to resolve some of the pressing issues in the region. However, it is far from certain how stable this solution will be even in the short run, given the Russia’s economic woes, political rigidity and lack of reforms.last_img read more

GMP’s heat pump piliot program exceeds expectations

first_imgGreen Mountain Power Corp,Due to an extraordinary customer response, Green Mountain Power is expanding plans for what is believed to be the first utility-sponsored heat pump rental program in the country, but has closed the pilot to new customers effective today.‘The pilot clearly tapped into something, because the response has been flabbergasting,’said Steve Costello, GMP’s vice president for generation and energy innovation.  ‘We had hoped to get 200 customers to participate in the pilot, and thought it might take a few months to develop that much interest.  More than 500 customers have expressed interest in just a few days, dramatically exceeding our expectations.‘As a result, with support from the Department of Public Service, we have expanded the pilot to include all customers who have responded to this point, but we are closing the pilot to additional customers for now,’Costello said.  ‘We hope to be able to expand the pilot to a larger program after we have more experience with heat pumps and customers’experiences with them.’The pilot effort, centered in Rutland, is intended to save customers money and demonstrate the comfort air-source heat pumps can provide in a cold-weather climate.The rental program includes installation of air-source heat pumps in homes and businesses with no up-front costs for the customer, and is expected to save participants hundreds of gallons of heating fuel and thousands of dollars each year.Employees in GMP’s Energy Innovation Center will contact all customers who voiced interest by noon today.  Given the demand, follow-up calls will be spread over several weeks.  Once a customer decides to go ahead, a contractor will be scheduled to do the installation.‘We have been amazed by the customer interest,’Costello said.  ‘Customers we’ve spoken with are focused on reducing their reliance on foreign oil, cutting their carbon emissions and reducing high heating bills.  We believe air-source heat pumps can do all that, while improving customer comfort year round.’Cold climate heat pumps, also known as mini-split heat pumps, are ductless heating systems that also provide air conditioning during hot weather.  Installed in less than a day, a heat pump includes an outdoor unit that works as a heat exchanger, like the compressor in a refrigerator, and is connected with copper tubing to a small interior unit.In cold weather, gas within the copper tubing extracts heat from outdoor air down to temperatures of about 13 below zero, and the warmth is brought inside.  In hot weather, the process reverses to cool the building.  GMP plans to heat its Energy Innovation Center largely with air-source heat pumps.Under the pilot program, GMP will pay to install heat pumps in customers’homes and small businesses, and rent them to the property owners for about $45 to $50 per month.Through a heat pump summit last fall and a program with Efficiency Vermont and NeighborWorks of Western Vermont to package weatherization with heat pump incentives, GMP has developed relationships with numerous installers in the HVAC, plumbing and home performance industries.  Six models are available through two manufacturers, Mitsubishi and Daikin.About Green Mountain PowerGreen Mountain Power (www.greenmountainpower.com(link is external)) generates, transmits, distributes and sells electricity in the state of Vermont. The company, which serves more than 250,000 customers, has set its vision to be the best small utility in America.last_img read more

BNSF inks Schnabel deal

first_imgTTS/BNSF will manage, maintain and have priority access to the Schnabel railcar, which was originally designed for specific Siemens transformers, but has pin locations that allow for the movement of a wide variety of transformer designs, said BNSF.TTS engineers have also designed adapters that will allow even more transformer designs to be moved using the railcar.In addition to the KWUX 101 railcar, TTS also owns three cabooses, three more Schnabel railcars, and two 12-axle flatcars – all of which are stored in Rincon, Georgia.  www.bnsflogistics.comlast_img

Bristol Flyers – Around The Club 22/02/19

first_imgThis week’s home highlight is a double header of junior basketball at Bristol Metropolitan Academy on Saturday afternoon. Flyers Under 18 II get us started as they host Vale Vipers for a 1pm tip-off. Flyers Under-16 girls have the headline slot for their subsequent game against Surrey Blue Storm (3pm tip-off).last_img

Sri Lanka close down Bangladesh in three days

first_img(BBC) – SRI LANKA wrapped up a three-day win over Bangladesh in the second Test in Mirpur to win the series 1-0, with a personal milestone for Rangana Herath.The veteran spinner took 4-49 to overtake Pakistan legend Wasim Akram as the most successful left-arm bowler in Test history, with 415 wickets.Off-spinner Akila Dananjaya took 5-24, the best figures for a Sri Lankan on debut as Bangladesh, needing an unlikely 339 to win, crumbled for 123.Mominul Haque top-scored with 33.Earlier, Sri Lanka, who had begun day three on 200-8, made their way to 226 all out as rookie batsman Roshen Silva impressed again, with his performance earning him the man-of-the-match and man-of-the-series awards.After a duck on his debut against India in December, the right-hander scored 74 not out, 109, 56 and 70 not out in his next four Test innings – giving him a batting average of 103 after three Tests.“I want to thank the Almighty God for helping (captain Dinesh) Chandimal win the toss on this wicket,” Silva said.The Mirpur pitch was in contrast to that of the drawn first Test in Chittagong, where 1 533 runs were scored for the loss of only 24 wickets across the five days – with the International Cricket Council rating the batting-friendly surface as “below average” and awarding it a demerit point.The tour concludes with two Twenty20 internationals on February 15 and 18.last_img read more