Activists in Magas, the capital of the Russian republic of Ingushetia, rally against a land swap deal with neighboring Chechnya on Oct. 9. Despite authorities reportedly setting up roadblocks to hinder demonstrators, thousands attended the rare protest in the North Caucasus.
(VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)
The North Caucasus has long been a difficult region for Russia to control. Pockets of resistance have sprouted in the mountainous area between the Black and Caspian seas for centuries. That opposition runs from the Russian Empire's initial expansion into the North Caucasus in the early 18th century to the separatist conflicts in Chechnya at the end of the 20th century. After coming to power in 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin helped restore relative calm to the region by granting greater autonomy to Chechnya, the home of two separatist wars. However, the actions of the Chechen president are now stirring up tensions with neighboring republics and threatening the stability that is crucial to Moscow....
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