–NEW LEADER IN DAGESTAN
Dagestan’s parliament on February 20 voted overwhelmingly to confirm its former speaker, Mukhu Aliev, as the republic’s first president following the surprise February 16 resignation of Magomedali Magomedov, its long-standing leader. Magomedov stepped down one day after meeting with President Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin. Putin recommended Aliev to the republican parliament to succeed Magomedov as is prescribed by the post-Beslan reforms that the Kremlin pushed through ending direct elections for regional leaders. In addition to approving Aliev as president, Dagestan’s parliament unanimously chose the outgoing leader’s elder son, Magomedsalam Magomedov, as its new speaker, the Moscow Times reported on February 21. Meanwhile, violence in republic continued. Itar-Tass reported on February 16 that a police officer and two militants were killed in fighting in the Dagestani village of Chervlyony Buruny. According to Interfax, police used flamethrowers against a group of militants who were holed up in the cellar of a deserted boarding school in the village.
–SOLDIERS AND MILITANTS KILLED IN CHECHNYA FIGHTING
The Associated Press reported on February 21 that one suspected rebel fighter was wounded in a battle with troops in Grozny. According to the Chechen Interior Ministry, three suspected rebels managed to escape while troops seized assault rifles and a flame-thrower that they left behind. Agence France-Presse reported on February 20 that six Russian soldiers were killed and 11 wounded in fighting around Chechnya over the previous 24 hours. An unnamed local government official told the news agency that three soldiers died and four were wounded during attacks against Russian military camps in the republic, while two more soldiers died and five were wounded when their convoy came under fire near the town of Shali and another soldier died in a landmine explosion outside Grozny. Two members of the federal Defense Ministry’s Vostok battalion, which is manned by ethnic Chechens, were wounded in a battle with militants near the village of Bamut in southwestern Chechnya. One militant died in that fighting. Another Russian soldier was hospitalized after he was shot in an incident involving fellow servicemen at his camp in the southern Vedeno district. A second soldier was arrested pending investigation, the AFP source said.
–INCIDENTS IN NORTH OSSETIA AND INGUSHETIA
A suspected rebel died in Ingushetia after detonating a hand grenade as security forces tried to detain him, the Associated Press reported on February 21, citing Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry. The AP reported on February 18 that a gunbattle had taken place that day in North Ossetia’s Prigorodny district. The battle broke out when unidentified gunmen opened fire on police responding to a report that an explosive device had been found near the village of Sunzha, near North Ossetia’s border with Ingushetia. No one was hurt in that incident.
–CHECHEN PRESIDENT AWARDS CHUBAIS
Chechen President Alu Alkhanov on February 16, awarded Anatoly Chubais, head of Unified Energy Systems (UES), Russia’s electricity monopoly, a Medal of Merit for the Chechen Republic, Chechnya’s highest award, for “his major contribution to the restoration of the energy system and power supply in the region,” Russia Newswire reported. According the public relations news agency, those present at the official award ceremony observed a moment of silence in memory of energy workers killed “in the energy restoration efforts in the Republic of Chechnya,” and Alkhanov expressed “words of gratitude” to UES staffers for taking care of the deceased workers’ families.
–CHECHEN PARLIAMENT CONFIRMS RIGHTS COMMISSIONER
Chechnya parliament on February 20 unanimously confirmed Nurdi Nukhazhiev as the republic’s human rights commissioner, Interfax reported. The nomination of Nukhazhiev, who heads the presidential department for the observance of the constitutional rights of citizens, was earlier submitted to the parliament by President Alkhanov.
–CHECHEN PARLIAMENT’S SPEAKER DENOUNCES U.S.
The speaker of Chechnya’s parliament, Dukvakha Abdurakhmanov, said in a press conference on February 20 ahead of a visit to Grozny by U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour that neither the United States nor the United Nations give sufficient aid to Chechnya. “We do not receive any assistance from the United States or the United Nations, so we think visits by their officials to Chechnya unnecessary,” Interfax quoted him as saying. According to the news agency, Abdurakhmanov said such visits are pointless and should stop. “I am positive that all the developments in the Chechen republic are a part of NATO and U.S. plans, which have resulted in the disintegration of the Soviet Union,” he said. “We are used to thinking that NATO is far, far away, but it is only several dozen kilometers from us. You just have to cross the Itum-Kale district of Chechnya and reach Georgia, which is frequented by NATO representatives under various pretexts.” Interfax reported that Abdurakhmanov also blamed the United States for “bloodshed in Iraq, which is the cradle of world civilization.”