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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: April 7, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
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In the last few days, 7 Russian citziens have been detained in the Turkish province of Gaziantep as they illeggally attempted to cross the border to Syria, reported, citing RIA Novosti.

Two citizens of Russia were detained on April 4 as they attempted to cross the border with Syria with the purpose of taking part in armed conflict. They have been turned over to law-enforcement agencies for their further deportation. On April 7, another 5 Russian citizens were detained on the border.

No names were provided and as both of these news services are controlled by the Russian state, the information is not verified.

Authorities in Gaziantep are quoted as saying that 59 Russian citizens have been detained since the start of the conflict in Syria in June 2011.

Sergei Melikov, presidential representative in the North Caucasus Federal District gave a figure of 1,500 Russian citizens reportedly fighting with ISIS on May 26.

He characterized their threat as "very serious" if they return to the North Caucasus, although he said their return was "made difficult." Said Melikov (translation by The Interpreter):

The actions of the so-called 'Islamic State' has nothing in common with Islam, and is condemned by the whole Islamic community. Today they are already positioning their pretentions to a large territory from Portugal to the Volga Region, China, North Africa and a number of island states. The threat is great for the whole world.

This figure of Russian citizens fighting with ISIS was given as 1,700 on February 20 by Aleksandr Bortnikov during a recent conference at the White House, Countering Extremism, in which he took part as head of the Russian delegation. It is not known why a lesser estimate is now given a month later.

Various sources indicate that there are Chechens and other Muslims from the North Caucasus fighting in Syria. But it is difficult to assess because little information about the details of the cases is provided.

On March 26, the Turkish newspaper Daily Sabah distributed a statement by the government of the Turkish province of Gaziantep which said that on March 25, 4 foreigners were stopped as they attempted to cross the Turkish-Syrian border -- 3 citizens of Saudia Arabia and one Russian citizen (according to the newspaper's information, he had already been deported back to Russia). The newspaper noted that Turkey had detained about 60 Islamists from Russia over 4 years, 27 of them had been accused of participation in a terrorist organization, and administrative proceedings had been started regarding 32 others.

Recently, law-enforcers shot dead Shakhban Gasanov, 25, a suspected Islamist militant was shot dead by law-enforcers in an apartment building in Makhachkala when he refused to surrender. Earlier, he had served 2 years in jail after being detained on suspicion of ties to the terrorist underground in Dagestan. There have been some 300 cases of killing of suspects in the last year.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick