Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 25

Chechen President Alu Alkhanov announced on June 26 that he would personally take over responsibility for the situation in the Shelkovskoi district village Borozdinovskaya, from which several hundred villagers fled after a June 4 zachistka, or cleansing operation, in which several homes were burned and eleven male inhabitants “disappeared.” The head of the village’s administration, Natalya Zelinskaya, told Interfax that 241 families, totaling 1,184 people, lived in the village before June 4, and that 166 families fled to the nearby Kizlyar district of Dagestan following the raid. She did not indicate the exact number of people who fled to Dagestan, but some observers have put the number at around 1,000, most of them ethnic Avars. As the Associated Press reported on June 21, the fleeing Borozdinovskaya residents left the village with their belongings loaded onto dump trucks and other vehicles and set up a makeshift tent camp in a field several hundred meters across Chechnya’s administrative border with Dagestan.

Alkhanov traveled on June 26 to Borozdinovskaya, where he vowed he would personally get to the bottom of what happened on June 4, which, according to RTR state television, he called an “act of barbarism.” He also visited the tent camp of those who fled Borozdinovskaya, who told him they would not return home until the fate of their eleven missing fellow villagers was determined. Indeed, Alkhanov admitted that he was unable to convince them to return home. “There are not convincing arguments for this now, although there are certain points of contact,” Alkhanov told journalists after meeting the refugees. “Our task – [the task of] the republic’s leadership and military structures – is to provide stability and security, and if the people return, it will be provided.”

Alkhanov announced he would name Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov head of a commission providing socio-economic development and security for Borozdinvoskaya created on June 8. Alkhanov signed the decree on June 27. According to Interfax, the Borozdinovskaya refugees themselves asked Alkhanov to head the commission because they “believe his words and are sure he will be able to keep his promises.” The commission, which was previously headed by Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, includes the heads of all the law-enforcement and power structures deployed in the republic; the military prosecutor for the Russian military forces in the North Caucasus, Maksim Toporikov; and heads of the Chechen government’s ministries and agencies.