Kawkaski Usel

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Kawkaski Usel ( Russian Кавказский Узел Kavkazkij Uzel , English Caucasian Knot , both for German "Caucasian Knot") is a news website that publishes independent news from different perspectives from the Greater Caucasus region in Russian and English.


Kawkaski Usel's focus is on short messages from the various sub-regions of the Caucasus. Further topics are current life in the Caucasus, regional developments, documents, legislative decisions using current reports from and about local and regional mass media, freedom of the press, comparative data on history, ethnic groups, religious and cultural traditions, background analyzes, scientific literature, personalities of the public life, non-governmental organizations (NGO) and development of human rights in the individual regions.

Kawkaski Usel reports from the two federation districts belonging to Russia, Southern Russia (with the regions of Volgograd , Astrakhan , Rostov and Krasnodar and the two republics of Kalmykia and Adygeja ) and the North Caucasus (with the Stavropol region and the republics of Karachay-Cherkessia , Kabardosetino-Balkaria , and North Caucasus -Alania , Ingushetia , Chechnya and Dagestan ) and from the three South Caucasian independent states Georgia (with the autonomous republic of Adjara and the two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia ), Azerbaijan (with the breakaway region of Nagorno-Karabakh ) and Armenia . There are separate news sections for all the states and sub-regions mentioned.

History and Cooperations

Kawkaski Usel was founded in 2001 by the Russian human rights organization Memorial , and the MEMO.RU information center, which belongs to Memorial, has been the responsible founder since 2008. Leading editor is Grigori Sergejewitsch Schwedow , who is also a leading member of Memorial and director of MEMO.RU. Together with the BBC, Kawkaski Usel maintains the “Northern Caucasus in Bloggers' Eyes” section, “Maps of Peaceful Caucasus” with Yandex , “Weather in 49 cities of the Caucasus” with the Russian Hydro-Meteorological Center and the Internet -Newspaper Gazeta.ru a series of interviews with leading politicians from all subregions of the Caucasus. The main cooperation partners are the Russian non-governmental organization “Institute for Human Rights”, the information and research center “Panorama” and “Gazeta.ru”. Kawkaski Usel received the Gerd Bucerius Prize for Free Press in Eastern Europe in 2007, which is donated by Zeit and the Norwegian organization "Fritt ord" (Free Word), and in 2009 the Prize of the Russian Journalists' Association.

Agenda and Importance

Kawkaski Usel is one of the most important online news, research and scientific analysis sites about the Caucasus region. Through his connection to Memorial, Kawkaski Usel sees himself as an advocate of democracy, the rule of law, civil society, human and civil rights, freedom of the press and territorial integrity and an opponent of the totalitarian heritage, oppression and discrimination. In addition, however, it represents absolute political neutrality and does not want to adopt the opinions of government parties, opposition or individual Caucasian governments. Many short messages and texts are kept accordingly short. According to his own information, Kawkaski Usel had around 1.8 million readers in December 2011. Surveys by the independent opinion research institute Lewada showed that Internet users in Caucasus have a high level of trust in Kawkaski Usel. According to the publisher, some of the readers can also be found outside of the Caucasus, because some of the content (“ hard news, features, analyzes, reference data and blogs ”) can also be found in regional media.

Current situation

The rapporteurs for Kawkaski Usel are particularly exposed to intimidation at regional level. The independent journalist and human rights activist Natalja Estemirova , who was murdered in July 2009, also wrote regularly for Kawkaski Usel. The Dagestani journalist Akhmednabi Akhmednabiev, who was murdered in 2013 and co-editor of the Novoje Delo magazine , also wrote regularly for Kawkaski Usel. Due to the human rights situation in many regions of the Caucasus, which is particularly dangerous for independent journalists, not all regional employees can work under real names. They are in contact with the publishers in Moscow via the Internet. In May 2009, Swedov stated that the security situation for reporters in the South Caucasian countries had become even worse than in the Russian North Caucasus in previous years. There have been several attempts by central governments to gain more control over Kawkaski Usel, but it is increasingly being tolerated.

Memorial as a "foreign agent"

Serious dangers have recently arisen from the situation of the supporting organization “ Memorial ”. According to a law from 2012, non-governmental organizations in Russia have to disclose their funding. If they are (also) financed from abroad (which is the case with Memorial through funds from the Heinrich Böll Foundation and, to a lesser extent, the Soros Foundation and others), and are "politically active", they must apply to the Ministry of Justice as Register " Organization in the role of foreign agent ". Legal proceedings were unsuccessful, which is why 34 NGOs were already online in the register on January 22, 2015. Including in 8th position from the bottom Memorial Human Rights Center (since July 21, 2014). At the same time, the Russian Ministry of Justice tried to centralize the decentralized structure of Memorial in Russia. There is also an application for closure against the “Memorial Russia” substructure. Attempts to close Gesamt-Memorial or MEMO.RU, which works in Moscow but is currently subordinate to Memorial International, would also hit Kawkaski Usel.

Addendum: After further updates, on September 16, 2015 there were already 92 organizations in the "Agent Register", which can be viewed online, including MEMO.RU since November 20, 2014, the Sakharov Center since December 25, 2014 , and the Interregional since January 16, 2015 Information and education center "Memorial" (= "Memorial Russia") and since July 21, 2015 the partial structure of Memorial in the Republic of Komi or various structures of the Golos election observation center , which has not received any funds from abroad since 2013. It is to be expected that MEMO.RU will also be subjected to lawsuits by the Ministry of Justice until Kawkaski Usel can no longer be financed. Another critical investigative medium, the Novaya Gazeta newspaper , whose advertisers were put under pressure, announced in May 2015 that its print edition would be discontinued.

Web links


  1. a b c Self-description "About Us" (English)
  2. web portal PECOB, a university association mostly Italian and Slavic Eastern and Southeastern Europe scientists. ( Memento from January 21, 2015 in the Internet Archive )
  3. See self-given ethical code and information from Schwedow in the article in The Nation about him and Kawkaski Usel.
  4. Report in The Nation about Schwedow and Kawkaski Usel.
  5. Interview with Schwedow in Osservatorio balcani e caucaso, ( Memento from January 21, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (English).
  6. ^ Message about Estemirowa's murder in the Washington Post with mention of her work for Kawkaski Usel in the last paragraph.
  7. ^ News of the murder at PEN America . See also Akhmednabiev's Kawkaski Usel biography .
  8. Interview with Schwedow in Osservatorio balcani e caucaso ( Memento from January 21, 2015 in the Internet Archive ) (English).
  9. Report in The Nation about Schwedow , in which he estimates that the central governments would read the news from the regions themselves, otherwise they would sometimes have too few independent authorities, while regional authorities have an interest in glossing over them.
  10. Register of foreign agents organizations Ministry of Justice
  11. Russia Analyzes, pp. 16-19. .
  12. Register of foreign agents organizations Ministry of Justice