Police and Militants Again Exchange Fire in Dagestan
A policeman was shot dead and another gravely wounded when unidentified gunmen attacked a police patrol in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala, Itar-Tass reported on February 16. According to the news agency, police were chasing a VAZ-21014 car whose driver had ignored orders to stop, when the gunmen turned into a side road, riddled the police vehicle with bullets and escaped from the scene. RIA Novosti reported that a militant was killed and two others injured after police opened fire on their car in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt district on February 15. Earlier on February 15, three suspected militants were killed in a special operation carried out in the Sergokala district of western Dagestan, RIA Novosti reported. Meanwhile, Kommersant reported on February 17 that Dagestani President Mukhu Aliev said he would not allow any official appointed by Federal Tax Service chief Mikhail Mokretsov to head up the service’s branch in Dagestan. Mokretsov’s appointment of Vladimir Radchenko—who previously headed the tax service in Kabardino-Balkaria—as the head of Dagestan’s tax service branch was fiercely opposed by many Dagestanis, who demanded the appointment of a Lezgin, the ethnic group whose member previously held the post (North Caucasus Weekly, February 12).
Kadyrov Restricts Alcohol Sales
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov signed an order on February 17 restricting the sale of alcoholic beverages to two hours a day and completely banning the sale of alcohol during Ramadan. “I have signed a decree about the restriction of the sale of alcohol with a pure alcohol content of more than 15 percent on the territory of the republic,” Kadyrov told his cabinet and regional leaders, his spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “We should fight against this evil with all the force that this law allows us to. I firmly believe that our example will be followed by many regions.” As AFP noted, the 15 percent limit means that most brands of beer and wine could still be sold all day but beverages like vodka, which normally contains 40 percent alcohol, will be restricted. The French news agency noted that according to the decree, the only time to buy hard liquor will be from 8:00-10:00 in the morning.
Safonov: “International Terrorist Organizations” Operating in the North Caucasus
Anatoly Safonov, the Russian presidential representative for international cooperation on combating terrorism and organized crime, said on February 17 that hundreds of organizations similar to al-Qaeda have emerged in recent years with some of them operating in the North Caucasus. “There are still active representatives of international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, operating in the North Caucasus,” RIA Novosti quoted Safonov as saying. The news agency noted that last month, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev told journalists that al-Qaeda emissaries are active in Dagestan and Chechnya and providing rebel groups there with weapons and explosives. Meanwhile, Deputy Russian Interior Minister Nikolai Rogozhkin, who commands the ministry’s troops, told Interfax on February 17 that Interior Ministry forces have killed around 20 militants in the North Caucasus so far this year.