There was also a large battle on July 13 near the village of Avtury in the Shali district southeast of Grozny. The official Itar-Tass news agency admitted in a July 14 report that the combat ended with the capture of 12 servicemen from the “presidential security guard,” i.e. the Kadyrov clan’s private army. Another state news agency, RIA Novosti, reported on July 14 that the battle lasted nearly 24 hours.
According to a July 13 article on the Gzt.ru website, Ramzan Kadyrov personally took part in the battle—and complained afterward about lack of adequate support from federal troops. Among the Kadyrovites’ heavy casualties was a person whom Ramzan described as his best friend, and who died of his wounds. Izvestia on July 15 put the total number of fatalities from the battle in Ramzan’s security guard at eight.
Nezavisimaya gazeta on July 5 depicted the Avtury battle as one of several signs that from the federal standpoint the situation is deteriorating in the region. Another is that Vladimir Putin has personally sent Prosecutor General Vladimir Ustinov on an urgent mission to the North Caucasus. The newspaper also cited the continuing kidnappings of pro-federal officials: for example, last week unidentified gunmen captured Lechi Isaldebirov, head of the administration of Buti in the Shatoi district of Chechnya’s southern highlands. An even more serious attack, according to RIA Novosti, came on July 18 when masked gunmen fatally shot Tamara Khadzhieva, head of the local branch of the pro-Putin United Russia party for the Shali district southeast of Grozny.