Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 6

Chechen Prosecutors Reopen Investigation of Budanov for Kidnapping

The Chechen Investigation Department under the Investigative Committee of the federal Prosecutor General’s Office reopened a probe into alleged kidnappings by Yuri Budanov, the Russian army colonel and tank commander jailed in 2000 for the murder of an 18-year-old Chechen girl who was released from prison last month after serving eight years of a ten-year sentence. Interfax quoted a spokesman for the Chechen Investigation Department as saying that the prosecutor in Chechnya’s Shali district had launched a criminal case back in March 2000 into the kidnapping of three people whose bodies were subsequently found in the republic’s Urus-Martan district but that the probe was later suspended because the perpetrators had not been identified. Late last year, Chechnya’s human right ombudsman, Nurdi Nukhadzhiev, and relatives of the victims wrote to the law-enforcement agencies claiming that Budanov was involved in the killings (North Caucasus Weekly, January 9).

Police in Kabardino-Balkaria Kill 7 Suspected Rebels

Reuters reported on February 11 that Interior Ministry troops shot and killed seven suspected rebels during a firefight in Kabardino-Balkaria that day. The news agency quoted Interfax as saying that the fighting began when the troops attempted to raid a suspected rebel hideout in a forested mountain area of the province. “During an attempt to arrest them, the criminals offered armed resistance,” Interfax quoted an Interior Ministry official as saying. “Seven bandits were killed when fire was returned.” reported that the shootout took place in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Cherkesk district and that among the slain militants was a rebel field commander, Zeitun Sultanov, and “one of the Khamukov brothers,” who was wanted on suspicion of involvement in the murder of nine hunters and forest rangers in Kabardino-Balkaria in November 2007 (North Caucasus Weekly, November 8, 2007).

Russian Soldier in Chechnya Shoots Dead Two Fellow Servicemen

RIA Novosti reported on February 11 that two Russian personnel were killed and one wounded after a dispute turned violent in Chechnya’s Achkhoi-Martan district. “A contract soldier is suspected of shooting dead two of his colleagues and wounding another with a Kalashnikov machine gun during a quarrel,” a police source told the news agency. Agence France-Presse, citing Interfax, which quoted a Russian military official, reported that the incident occurred when a soldier opened fire on three companions with whom he was drinking after they started to quarrel. Interfax’s sources said two of the soldiers were killed and one seriously injured.

Suspects Arrested in Murder of Vladikavkaz’s Mayor and Ex-Mayor

Agence France-Presse, citing RIA Novosti, reported on February 10 that about 30 people had been detained in connection with the killings of Vitaly Karaev, mayor of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, in November, and former Vladikavkaz Mayor Kazbebek Pagiev in December (North Caucasus Weekly, December 31, 18 and 4, 2008). RIA Novosti quoted a police source as saying that some of the suspects were detained in Moscow and that two of those arrested were police officers. The Islamist group Kataib al-Khoul, also known as the Ossetian Jamaat, claimed that one of its senior leaders shot and killed Karaev (North Caucasus Weekly, December 4, 2008).

Chechnya’s Muslim Leaders Call for Total Alcohol Ban

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s North Caucasus Service reported on February 9 that Islamic leaders in Chechnya are calling for a complete ban on alcohol. It reported that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov promised this month to undertake “urgent measures to save the republic from the possible collapse caused by alcohol consumption” and that some 42 liquor stores have been shut down in the Chechen capital, Grozny, so far in February. It also quoted Chechen Tax Committee head Islam Vazarkhanov as saying that liquor stores should be open only three hours a day.