Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 90

Overnight on May 6-7 there was an exchange of gunfire in the Chechen capital of Djohar, not far from the offices of the city’s mayor. According to one version of the incident, the shootout was between rival religious groups. According to another, it involved two criminal groups. The weapons used included large caliber guns and rocket propelled grenades. The Ministry of Sharia Security was forced to call out troops to restore order. Information on casualties remains contradictory: Chechen Vice Premier Kazbek Makhashev said no one was injured; Said Bitsoev, the Chechen Interior Ministry’s representative in Moscow, said nine were killed and ten wounded.

Official Moscow received news of the shootout calmly, apparently being concerned mainly that such conflicts do not spill outside Chechnya’s borders. The head of the Interior Ministry’s information department said that what is happening in Chechnya “is the natural result of those events which began back in 1991”–that is, Dzhokhar Dudaev’s accession to power in Chechnya (RTR, May 7; Nezavisimaya gazeta, May 8).

The shootout in Djohar was reportedly not out of the ordinary: Russia, like the United States in the middle of the last century, acquired its own “frontier,” which is ruled, as was America’s Wild West, by the gun, slavery and trade in hostages (Izvestia, May 8).