DAGESTAN, 21 March, Caucasus Times: A large group of foreign journalists arrived in Dagestan on Tuesday evening [20 March]. The delegation includes 21 journalists from Germany, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Austria, the UK, Finland, France and Slovenia. The delegation also includes representatives from the major news agencies Reuters, Agence France-Presse and the BBC. During their three-day visit, the journalists will familiarize themselves with Dagestan and meet republican leaders.
Right after the group of foreign journalists arrived in Makhachkala, they were received by the president of the republic, Mukhu Aliyev.
The president told the journalists about the socio-political situation in the republic and answered their questions.
“There are certainly security-related problems in Dagestan, but exactly to the same extent as in other countries,” he said. To illustrate the improvement in the situation, the president cited some figures: five times more terrorist attacks were registered in the republic in 2005 than in 2004 but already in 2006 a dramatic decrease in their number – by 66 per cent – was recorded.
Asked about the impact of Islam on life in Dagestan, Mukhu Aliyev said, in particular: “After all borders were opened, foreign missionaries infiltrated Dagestan and have been propagating extremist ideology under the guise of the so-called ‘pure Islam'”. Therefore, the president noted, the republic’s leadership is trying to deprive the extremists of their social base.
Touching upon the [parliamentary] election, Mukhu Aliyev said that despite incidents and violations that took place, the republic got through the ultimate test.
The programme of the foreign journalists’ stay also includes visits to historical places in Makhachkala and Derbent, as well as participation in Novruz celebrations.