–WEBSITE CLAIMS BASAEV MET WITH CIA AGENTS
The pro-Kremlin Utro.ru website reported February 28 that “military experts” believe that the video posted by the Kavkazcenter website earlier this month in which Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev dispelled rumors that he had been killed was shot on a boat, most likely in the Black Sea or Caspian Sea. The website also claimed it had “discovered from competent Russian organs that several days before Basaev’s appearance before the video camera, he met in conditions of complete secrecy with CIA representatives and officials of the Georgian special services.” This report was the second time this month that Russian sources insinuated connections between Western governments and terrorists who are targeting Russia. On February 16, Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev told a meeting of the Interior Ministry and other law enforcement officials that the “main goal” of “inspirers of terror” is “to step up anti-constitutional activity in our country, to change Russia’s position in the interests of Western countries.” The Associated Press quoted Nurgaliev as saying that terrorism backers “have made active use of ethnic and religious differences with the goal of splitting off certain Russian regions.”
–A BILLION HERE, A BILLION THERE
Dmitry Kozak, President Vladimir Putin’s envoy to the Southern Federal District, told RIA Novosti on February 26 that 64 billion rubles (approximately $2 billion) have been spent over the last four years on rebuilding Chechnya. Kozak said it was impossible to determine exactly how much is needed to rebuild the republic: “That is currently being calculated; however, thus far the coefficient of useful actions from these investments is very low.” Meanwhile, Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov estimated Chechnya’s material losses over the last fifteen yeas are as high as $180 billion. “In the Soviet period, the Chechen-Inugush ASSR provided 12 percent of the USSR’s gross domestic product, and one district of Grozny – [the] Zavodsky [district] – provided yearly revenues that exceeded the revenues of Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria combined,” Dzhabrailov said.
–MORE DAGESTANI OFFICIALS MURDERED
On March 1, unidentified gunmen in Dagestan killed Magomed Aliev, who just the day before had been named director of the Sultan Yangiryurtsky state farm, Newsinfo.ru reported. Aliev and a 22-year-old resident of the village of Nechaevka, Nurmagomed Nurmagomedov, died when the attackers fired on the car in which they were riding. A third passenger was wounded. Meanwhile, a policeman was shot to death in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, on March 1 after he and fellow patrol officers asked two men to show their documents. A passer-by was wounded in the shooting, Lenta.ru reported on March 2.
–CHECHENS OVER-REPRESENTED AMONG ASYLUM SEEKERS
The BBC’s Russian-language service reported on March 1 that the largest group of asylum seekers in industrialized countries last year was from Russia, and the majority of those refugees were Chechens. According to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, 30,100 Russians sought political asylum in industrialized countries. The second largest group of asylum seekers (22,300) was from Serbia and Montenegro, and most of those refugees were from Kosovo.