Publication: Monitor Volume: 8 Issue: 32

On February 11, another attempt was made on the life of North Ossetia’s Interior Minister, Kazbek Dzantiev. An explosion took place around 7:20 a.m., Moscow time, after the minister exited his home in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia’s capital, and was walking toward his official car. According to eyewitnesses, the explosive device was hidden in shrubbery outside the home and, according to preliminary information, packed with metal fragments as shrapnel. The explosion seriously wounded in the leg one of the policemen who was accompanying Dzantiev. The interior minister himself suffered minor wounds to the arm and a concussion (Radio Liberty, February 11).

The bombing was the second attack on Dzantiev in the last several weeks. On January 21, another explosive device was detonated as he left his home, but neither the minister nor any of those accompanying him were hurt. The law-enforcement organs linked that attack with Dzantiev’s active support for North Ossetia’s incumbent president, Aleksandr Dzasokhov, who won re-election on January 27. Earlier, on January 7, someone blew up a television broadcast antenna, an act that law enforcement also saw as part of the battle for the republic’s presidency. Russian Deputy Interior Minister Vladimir Vasiliev called the latest attack on Dzantiev “a very serious crime” and said that the Interior Ministry, Prosecutor General’s Office and Federal Security Service (FSB) were all involved in the investigation into the two attacks on North Ossetia’s interior minister (Izvestia.ru, February 11). Viktor Kazantsev, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Southern federal district, said he would travel to North Ossetia to look into the circumstances surrounding the latest attack on Dzantiev (Gazeta.ru, February 11).

According to some observers, the second attack on Dzantiev may have been connected to Dzasokhov’s inauguration, which took place on February 12. Dzasokhov stressed in his inauguration speech that it was necessary to forget about the confrontations of the election campaign and promised that his new four-year term would develop under the watchwords “stability and well-being.” Among those in attendance were former Russian Prime Minister Yevgeny Primakov, who served with Dzasokhov in the Soviet Communist Party’s Politburo, and Akhmad Kadyrov, head of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration (ORT, Izvestia.ru, Radio Liberty, February 12). Prior to the January 27 presidential election in North Ossetia, some observers noted that the string of terrorist attacks apparently connected to the election campaign, which appeared to be unprofessionally carried out and did not have lethal results, actually benefited Dzasokhov himself above all. The attacks, along with other campaign-related unrest, compromised Dzasokhov’s opposition while bolstering the incumbent president’s image as a crime fighter and guarantor of stability (see the Monitor, January 22, 29).