Since the fall of the Soviet Union no region has grown to occupy a more dramatic role in Western analyses and concerns regarding Russia than the Caucasus. Located at the boundary of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East the Caucasus is a complex, mini-continent of three sovereign states and seven "republics," the scene of seven wars since 1988, a region of oil and pipelines, a zone of endemic turmoil where Islam, Orthodox Christianity and secularism overlay old rivalries and grievances, and, to set the entire region on the world stage, the planned site of the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
The present book brings together eleven experts on this complex, non-Slavic region, who examine in novel and refreshing ways the effects the Caucasus is having upon the military, political, economic, and social dimensions of Russia as a whole. Several years in preparation this volume cuts through the miasma of romantic or exotic misconceptions that color the view of this region, both on Moscow's part and that of the West. Chapters argue persuasively that not only has the Caucasus decisively affected the evolution of Russia over the past twenty odd years, but that it continues to offer new models of Russian control while at the same time presenting a picture of growing estrangement and increasing de facto autonomy. One chapter, dealing with preparation for the Sochi Olympics, paints a picture of such extensive corruption that the entire economy of Russia is being adversely affected, not to mention the swirl of grievances flying around the issue of the Circassians, who will have been driven from Sochi, their "capital," 150 years ago on the advent of the games.
This book will be vital to those who are interested not only in politics and the dynamics of Russia, but in Olympic sports as well. After reading this volume Russia, the Caucasus, and even the Olympics will never seem quite the same again. -- John Colarusso, Professor, McMaster University, author of Nart Sagas from the Caucasus * Endorsement * This volume, put together by...a leading specialist on Dagestan and the North Caucasus, contributes new perspectives -- D. Slider, Dept. of Government and International Affairs, University of Florida, US * Slavonic and East European Review *show more