Itar-Tass reported on February 12 that a Federal Security Service (FSB) officer was killed and a policeman was wounded in a battle with militants blockaded in a private house in the village of Sasatli in Dagestan’s Babayurt region. A source in the Dagestani Interior Ministry’s press service told the news agency that “during an armed clash, the chief of the department of the Federal Security Service for the Babayurt region, Dagir Zakharyev, 41, was killed, a police driver was badly wounded” and three militants were killed. The rebel gunmen were identified as Shamil Omarov, Rasul Khabibov and Murmagomed Makhmudov, all of whom were on the wanted list. RIA Novosti reported that three policemen were wounded in the shootout.
Meanwhile, two residents of Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala, Dzhabir Kamaludinov and Shamil Omarov, claim they were kidnapped by law-enforcement personnel at the end of January and released a week later, Kavkazky Uzel reported on February 14. Kamaludinov said he was seized on January 29 and taken to a base on the outskirts of Makhachkala, where Omarov was also taken the following day. The two said they were moved to Chechnya several days later, and after several more days brought back to Dagestan.
“Since we pray and perform rites, they tried to find out what contacts we have in the religious milieu,” Kamaludinov said. “During the interrogation they used illegal methods for conducting investigations. But the abductors understood that we didn’t have the information they needed, so they let us go. We didn’t have contacts in the religious milieu, because we rarely socialized: we went to work and returned home.” According to RIA Dagestan, Kamaludinov said his abductors, who were dressed in civilian clothes and armed, used psychological and physical pressure during the interrogations.
Kavkazky Uzel quoted Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya of the Memorial human rights group’s office in Ingushetia, who has written a report on disappearances in Dagestan, as saying that young Muslims in Dagestan are targeted for kidnapping. “In all probability, employees of power structures fear for their lives and therefore people are often taken out [of the republic] for torture—for example, to Chechnya,” she said. “There is evidence that people have been tortured there and then returned to Makhachkala with their testimony already ‘strengthened’. There is also torture in Dagestan, of course, but it is simpler to do it in Chechnya, where lawyers do not get access to a detainee, who can be tortured there with absolute impunity.”