Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 107

There has been another attack on police personnel in Dagestan, in the Kazbekovsk region bordering Chechnya. After a rather protracted battle, one of the estimated three dozen attackers was killed and three policemen were injured. The guerrillas retreated after Russian helicopters fired rockets on them. Several hours before the battle, Russian soldiers on Grebensk bridge, which connects the Babayurt region of Dagestan with Chechnya, were attacked by guerrillas from the Chechen side (NTV, RTR, June 2).

Several days ago, a contingent of Interior Ministry troops at the Grebensk bridge were attacked from Chechnya. During a two-hour battle, one Interior Ministry officer was killed and thirteen servicemen injured. In response, Russian aviation struck against terrorist positions in Chechnya for the first time since the end of the Chechen War. This action was supported from the top: Interior Minister Vladimir Rushailo, Russian President Boris Yeltsin and Prime Minister Sergei Stepashin all hailed the tough action by the Interior Ministry forces. Stepashin also said that Chechen President Aslan Maskhadov has no grounds to complain about the attacks against armed groups on Chechen territory (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 3; see the Monitor, June 1).

According to one account, the most recent Chechen attack was in response to the Russian airstrike. It is possible that the terrorists are trying to undermine confidence in the effectiveness of such airstrikes (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 3).

Yesterday marked the 135th anniversary of the end of the Caucasus War. On June 2, 1864, the last Cherkess resistance unit capitulated to the Tsarist authorities and the entire North Caucasus came under Russian rule. That event was the subject of recent articles in various influential newspapers. One expressed strong doubts that June 2, 1864, actually marked the end of the Caucasus War (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 2). The people of the North Caucasus continued to resist Russian rule periodically after that date. In 1918, a Mountains Republic was announced, and even recognized by Germany and Turkey. During Soviet collectivization there were several dozen large rebellions. From 1940 through 1944 certain regions in Chechnya’s mountains hid armed resistance groups which had managed to escape deportation in 1944.

Beginning with the period of perestroika, the North Caucasus became a zone of instability for Russia. Several armed conflicts arose, and the majority of the region’s population have illegal weapons (Nezavisimaya gazeta, June 2).