Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 114

The Russian authorities in Chechnya yesterday (June 12) marked Russian “Independence Day” against the backdrop of ongoing guerrilla warfare. Federal troops in the republic were on heightened alert out of fear that the rebels would step up attacks to coincide with the holiday. Despite the stepped-up security measures, the rebels still managed to attack a federal armored personnel carrier on the outskirts of Argun. A mine exploded under the vehicle, after which it came under fire. One Russian serviceman was killed and five wounded in the attack (Radio Liberty, June 12). To commemorate the holiday, Gennady Troshev, commander of the North Caucasus Military District, traveled to Chechnya yesterday to meet with federal troops. The general attended a special concert, after which he personally conferred medals on servicemen. Troshev said that the rebels have of late increasingly been targeting Chechens who cooperate with the federal authorities rather than federal troops directly. In response, said Troshev, local administration heads in Chechnya would be given weapons for self-protection and placed under military guard (RTR, June 12).

Troshev’s promise of added security measures for officials of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration underscores the increasingly precarious position of Moscow’s remaining allies in the republic. Indeed, some of those officials have been quitting their posts in the administration out of fear that the Russian military cannot protect them (see the Monitor for June 7). Such fears can only have been heightened by the June 11 murder of the chief of administration in the town of Valerik, located in the western Chechen region of Achkoi-Martan. The official, Lukman Madalov, was shot to death when unknown gunmen burst into his home. The intruders severely wounded his wife, the director of a local school (Russian agencies, June 12).

There were violent incidents in other parts of the republic this week. On June 10, two journalists from the newspaper Severny Kavkaz (North Caucasus) were severely wounded by a bomb blast in Djohar (Grozny), the Chechen capital. That same day in town of Gekhi, located in the central part of the republic, unknown persons fired a rocket-propelled grenade at a police car, wounding two policemen. The attackers managed to escape. Also on June 10, Chechen rebels bombed a military train not far from the train station in Argun, located twenty kilometers from the capital. The powerful explosion killed at least one serviceman and wounded four (Russian agencies, June 10).

Meanwhile, refugees have been streaming out of the Chechen village of Shaami-Yurt into the neighboring republic of Ingushetia, apparently in response to an indiscriminate attack by federal forces. On June 9, residents of the village, which is located along the Kavkaz highway, held a protest rally to demand the release of a fellow villager, who, they claimed, had been illegally arrested during a “mopping-up” operation by federal forces. According to eyewitnesses, the village came under rocket fire during the demonstration, resulting in the wounding or deaths of eight people. More than ten homes and other buildings were reportedly damaged in the rocket attack (Radio Liberty, June 12).