Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 19

– Police and Militants Killed in Shootouts

Four Chechen policemen and three rebel fighters were killed in two battles in the republic, Itar-Tass reported on May 7. One of the incidents took place in Chechnya’s Vedeno district, during a joint operation by members of Chechen Interior Ministry’s Kadyrov regiment, District Interior Ministry department, Federal Security Service and military commandant’s office against six militants belonging to the armed group headed by Supyan Abdulaev, aka Chitok. The militants were holed up in a house in the village of Khatuni. “During the shoot-out, two officers of the Chechen Interior Ministry’s Kadyrov regiment and a member of the Internal Troops died,” an Interior Ministry source told Itar-Tass. “Four other officers of the Interior Ministry were injured.” Three militants died in the shootout, the news agency reported. Meanwhile, a police officer was killed when members of the Kadyrov regiment attempted to arrest a 30 year-old resident of the village of Mesker-Yurt who has been on the federal wanted list for terrorism since 2003. The suspect, who eventually managed to escape, opened fire and wounded a police officer who died on the way to the hospital.

– France’s President-Elect Promises to Raise Chechnya with Putin

Just days before his victory in France’s presidential election, Nicolas Sarkozy said that if he were elected president, he would bring up concerns about human rights abuses in Chechnya with Russian President Vladimir Putin. The Associated Press on May 4 quoted Sarkozy as telling France’s Radio Europe-1: “Either we defend universal values of human rights, and that counts for the Chechens just as it counts for the French, or we don’t defend them. I know perfectly well that the Russian national sentiment has suffered painful challenges in recent years…but nonetheless, Russian democracy has progress to make.” Sarkozy added: “We have the right to say to a large country, ‘Listen, there are some things that are not going well.’ I would say it calmly, serenely, firmly.” The loser in the May 6 run-off presidential election, Socialist Segolene Royal, also strongly criticized Russia’s human rights record, including in Chechnya. As the Associated Press noted, human rights groups assailed outgoing French President Jacques Chirac for not taking Putin to task for alleged torture and other abuses in Chechnya committed by Russian forces and allied paramilitaries.

– Kadyrov Orders Chechnya’s Eateries to Close Early

Prague Watchdog reported on May 3 that Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov ordered the closure of all cafes and restaurants after eight in the evening. Kadyrov announced the order during a meeting with Prime Minister Odes Baisultanov and First Deputy Prime Minister Adam Demilkhanov, arguing that evenings are the time when many drivers drink themselves into a critical state at such establishments and then get behind the wheel, thus posing a danger to those around them. In addition, Kadyrov said that many of these cafes often encourage debauchery, Prague Watchdog reported. Kadyrov compared drunk drivers to “Wahhabis,” stating: “What difference does it make at whose hands people are killed in the republic? The statistics tell us that more people actually die in road accidents than as a result of armed clashes.” According to Watchdog’s website, Kadyrov’s order that cafes and restaurants close by eight was precipitated by an incident that took place in the town of Argun when Kadyrov was traveling along a road with his entourage. “A passenger car shot out of a side-lane across the path of the presidential convoy,” Prague Watchdog reported. “It was fortunate that no accident occurred. The driver who had failed to give way to the motorcade was immediately detained and found to be very drunk.” The website gave no indication of what happened to the driver after he was detained.