The Putin administration’s policies of “Chechenization” are not only failing to pacify the republic, but actually seem to be causing an intensification of violence. Last weekend a daring raid by rebel guerrillas targeted a key commander in Akhmad Kadyrov’s personal army in his own home. The commander, Sultan Dadaev, died along with four of his troops and one of the attackers in the ensuing firefight.
According to a February 2 article in Nezavisimaya gazeta, the battle in the east Chechen town of Alleroy followed a major security sweep in which Kadyrov’s gunmen were hunting the head of Aslan Maskhadov’s bodyguards, as well as rebel arms caches. (Alleroy is Maskhadov’s birthplace.) It was this “zachistka” that apparently provoked the rebel counterattack.
Nezavisimaya gazeta noted that such special operations by Kadyrov’s forces are becoming more frequent; it cited recent “zachistki” in the Achkhoi-Martan and Nadterechny districts. A January 31 article published by the human rights news agency Prima stated that tens of Chechen civilians had been arrested in these operations, with their whereabouts still unknown.
Also increasing, wrote Nezavisimaya gazeta, is the number of direct firefights, as distinct from assassinations or mine explosions. Last week, for example, a clash occurred between Kadyrov’s forces and a unit of about fifteen rebels in the Vedeno district. “The obvious cause,” according to the newspaper, “is precisely the activization of ‘Kadyrov’s guards’ and their attempts to win total control of the republic.”
The commander of those guards, Akhmad Kadyrov’s son Ramzan, publicly offered a reward of US$200,000 for information leading to the capture of the guerrillas who killed Dadaev.