Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 1

Interfax, citing a Chechen Interior Ministry source, reported on December 31 that two militants had surrendered in Chechnya. According to the news agency, one of the two, a resident of the Groznensky district village of Tolstoi-Yurt, handed over a Kalashnikov assault rife, while the other claimed he had been involved in buying food supplies for rebels. The same Chechen Interior Ministry source told Interfax that a major cache of explosive materials had been discovered in Grozny’s Zavodsky district. According to the source, the cache included a gas container filled with a grey powdery substance and fitted with an electronic detonator as well as two metal tubes stuffed with explosives connected to detonators.

On December 29, Interfax reported that Chechen security forces averted a major terrorist act in Grozny, seizing 320 kilograms of TNT. “As a result of a tip-off about preparations for large-scale terrorist acts in the republic’s capital on New Year’s Eve, an active member of illegal armed formations, Aslan Kurkaev, born in 1979, has been arrested,” the news agency quoted a Chechen Interior Ministry source as saying. “The rebel confessed that he had been involved in preparing a terrorist act in Grozny in the holiday period. As a result of the tip-off, explosives equal to 320 kilograms of TNT were found under the bridge across the Sunzha River.” Interfax reported on December 28 that bomb threats made that day against Grozny’s hospitals No. 4 and No. 9 turned out to be false alarms. The facilities were evacuated and searched by a military engineer unit.

The Chechen rebel Kavkaz Center website reported on December 27 that a “mobile mujahideen unit from Amir Musa’s unit” had fired “improvised rocket launchers” at the Russian military base at Khankala, outside of Grozny. The website claimed there were dead and wounded among Russian military personnel at the base but that the Russian side had “reported nothing about the attack.” Kavkaz Center also claimed that rebels had attacked a Russian military post near the village of Duba-Yurt, killing four Russian soldiers while losing two of their own.

The Chechen National Salvation Committee reported that two people were killed and one wounded when a Russian helicopter gunship opened fire on a bonfire in a forest in Chechnya’s Achkoi-Martan district on the night of December 19-20. According to the Nazran-based Chechen human rights NGO, the bonfire was made by local villagers who were gathering firewood. A criminal investigation into the incident has been launched, the group’s website reported. Kavkazky Uzel, citing the NGO, reported on December 28 that a wooded area near the settlement of Avtury in Chechnya’s Shali district was shelled by artillery on December 24.

The Chechen National Salvation Committee reported on its website on December 31 that an inhabitant of the village of Tangi-Chu in Chechnya’s Urus-Martan district, Bulat Magomadov, was abducted from his home by unidentified “representatives of Russian force structures” on the night of December 15-16. Magomadov’s body was found in Grozny’s Oktyabrsky district two days after his abduction bearing bullet holes and signs of torture. According to the committee, Magomadov worked several years ago as a shepherd in Rostov Oblast, where he was arrested for murder, sentenced to five years in prison and freed after serving three years of the sentence. The committee also reported that Musa Paikhaev was kidnapped from his home in the village of Alkhan-Yurt, also located in Urus-Martan, on December 18. “Representatives of a Russian force agency that has not been identified, numbering 20 people, drove up to the Paikhaevs’ home in white Gazel and Niva automobiles without license plates and, bursting into the house, put everyone who was there on the floor,” the committee’s website reported. “Along with adults, there were also young children, aged four to six, in the house. The servicemen in masks tied together the elder Paikhaev son and his mother-in-law. Without explaining the reason for such an unexpected visit, and hurling unprintable abuse, they took Musa Paikhaev outside in bare feet, without giving him a chance to get dressed, and drove him off in an unknown direction.”

The Chechen National Salvation Committee reported on its website on December 27 that a 46-year-old man named Akhmadov Albeik was abducted from the Chechen settlement of Assinovskaya on December 19 by unidentified people in camouflage.

Radio Liberty, on December 29, quoted Dmitry Grushkin of the Memorial human rights group as saying that 184 people were kidnapped in Chechnya during 2006, 11 of whom were found dead. As Memorial noted, those statistics were based on the monitoring of only one-third of the republic, meaning that the total number of abductions in Chechnya last year may have been higher.