Caucasus not a place for my family: Kremlin envoy

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The Kremlin's chief envoy to Russia's North Caucasus admitted in an interview published Friday that he was not ready to let his family live in the turbulent region.

"I have a dream to come to the Caucasus on vacation with my family. But this is something for the future," Alexander Khloponin told the Kommersant business daily, indicating that the region has a ways to go before reaching stability.

"I would like to have my family near when I work, but it's too early to start building a home," said Khloponin.

Khloponin, who was unexpectedly named envoy to the newly created North Caucasus federal district in January, abandoned his post as governor of energy-rich Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia to set up office in the Stavropol region.

But 10 months into his new assignment, he was forced to concede to painfully slow progress in his work, with the region still plagued by poverty and an increasingly violent insurgency.

"I could report how many militants were killed, give you the work statistics of the police. But how does it reflect a changed situation in the Caucasus?" he said.

The federal district includes the regions of Dagestan, Ingushetia, Chechnya, Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, North Ossetia, and Stavropol.

Violence has become especially frequent in Dagestan and Ingushetia, where militants have targeted both local police officers and civilians

Khloponin said one his main duties involved developing trust in the authorities among the locals to improve the situation. This, in turn, would help both identify and fight the region's insurgents, he said.

The wide-scale arrest of insurgent will be possible "once we start receiving information from the locals" and halt the work of "traitors inside the police," Khloponin said.

The Kremlin has been fighting North Caucasus militants since the collapse of the Soviet Union, waging a 1994-1996 war against separatist in rebel Chechnya.

After a second war in Chechnya in 1999, the rebellion's inspiration moved towards Islam with the aim of imposing an Islamic state in the region.

Although the war ended in 2000, rebels have waged an increasingly deadly insurgency with unrest spreading into other areas of the North Caucasus such as Dagestan and Ingushetia.

© 2010 AFP

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