Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said March 1 that Russia would spend around USD1.44 billion through 2016 to develop Ingushetia, a violent region where analysts say poverty is pushing civilians to join Islamist rebels. Putin’s remarks in the provincial capital, Magas, underscored the Russian government’s concern over an upsurge of violence in the past year in Ingushetia, which borders Chechnya in Russia’s restive, heavily Muslim North Caucasus. Nearly a decade after the second of two wars against rebels in Chechnya, the violence has undermined the Kremlin’s control over a vulnerable border area adjacent to the energy transport routes of the South Caucasus and nearby Turkey. Human rights groups say poverty in Ingushetia, aggravated by soaring unemployment and endemic corruption, is a major factor fueling tension and pushing young people to join Islamist insurgents. (Reuters)

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