Dagestan Insurgency Grinds on as Officials Borrow Methods Used in Chechnya

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 13 Issue: 15

Those who follow developments in Dagestan cannot fail to notice that the republican leadership, in dealing with the militants, is trying to adopt the experience of neighboring Chechnya. The Dagestani authorities are setting up ethnic-based units along the lines of the Chechen Zapad and Vostok battalions (https://www.currentintelligence.net/agenda/2010/8/16/arming-the-tribes-in-daghestan.html), hosting additional police and military forces (www.echomsk.spb.ru/news/kriminal/v-dagestan-perebrasyvayut-voyska.html), establishing operative groups (https://rod-ru.org/news1307/) and creating a commission adapting former militants to civilian life.

So far, none of the instruments adapted from Chechnya has had any effect on the situation in Dagestan. Even the commission for rehabilitating militants has received only 37 repentant rebels in over the one and a half years of its existence. None of those who surrendered to the commission came even from the lowest command circles of the insurgency. These mediocre results in Dagestan show that each republic of the North Caucasus has its own specific features and its own level of trust toward the regional authorities. The director of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Aleksandr Bortnikov, stated that commissions for the adaptation of the rebels might become a key element in preventing terrorism (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/209583/). However, in Kabardino-Balkaria, no rebels surrendered to the local commission for adapting militants (https://dagestan.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/209684/). The same idea has been applied in different republics of the North Caucasus, producing very different results. The only novelty that has been tried in Dagestan was the government’s project for the “reconciliation” of the Salafis and the Sufis in the republic (www.regnum.ru/news/kavkaz/dagestan/1548709.html). A new model of coexistence of Sufis and the Salafis is taking shape in Dagestan, which will have reverberations in Chechnya, Ingushetia, Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia.

Meanwhile, violent attacks by the insurgency continue. As of July 15, several significant insurgency-related incidents took place in Dagestan. On July 10, the joint forces of the Buinaksk district police and the republican police stopped a car near the village of Chankurbe on the road connecting it with the village of Dorgeli. When the police attempted to check the driver’s documents, he fired shots at them. The attacker was killed in the shootout and subsequently identified as Rasul Adilgereyev (www.regnum.ru/news/kavkaz/dagestan/1550096.html#ixzz20fbQZmHe).

On June 14, eight people, including seven rebels, were killed and three were injured in a clash between the government and rebel forces. According to official sources, the law enforcement officers exchanged fire with a group of militants who were in a car on the highway connecting the towns of Izberbash and Sergokala. The militants retreated to vineyards near the village of Uitamysh in Dagestan’s Kayakent district, where they put up a fight. One policeman was killed and three others were wounded in the clash, according to preliminary information (www.itar-tass.com/c1/472533.html). Later, near the site of the clash, police found two cars and a dugout with an IED in it, which they destroyed (www.riadagestan.ru/news/2012/7/15/139389/). Two of the seven slain suspected militants were identified as 28-year-old Islam Magomedov (aka Emir Abdulkhalik) and 29-year-old Arsen Magomedov (aka Emir Abdula). Islam Magomedov, who is believed to be the head of the Sergokala jamaat, has been on the Russian federal wanted list since 2010. Magomedov reportedly headed the Izberbash jamaat and also has been on the wanted list since 2010 (https://www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/209718/). Other slain suspects included 26-year-old Amin Ibiev from the town of Kayakent, 35-year-old Shamil Ahmedov from the town of Izberbash, 32-year-old Magomedsaid Mamatov from the village of Utamysh in Kayakent district, 25-year-old Isa Dalgatov from Izberbash and 23-year-old Vilyam Plotnikov (aka Kanadets) from Tyumen Oblast (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru/articles/209755/).

Also on July 14, unknown assailants captured an SUV in the town of Yuzhny Khushet, which is in Makhachkala’s suburbs, and fired shots at two police cars with riot police (OMON) officers in them. The drivers, police officers Magomedrasul Asgedinov and Magomednuri Gamzatov, died on the spot in the attack. The attackers also seized the slain servicemen’s guns (www.ria.ru/crime/20120715/699781532.html#ixzz20fOrNXc7).

The situation in the Dagestani republic remains very complex because of the unceasing fighting between the government forces and an armed Islamic resistance, which fights under jihadist slogans. As the security conditions deteriorate, regional officials are doing everything possible to salvage the situation by adopting counter-insurgency methods used in Chechnya, but the prospects do not look promising. Any counterinsurgency strategy, adapted from other republics of the North Caucasus and applied to Dagestan, cannot succeed without taking into consideration the specifics of this republic. Unique to Dagestan, no single personality in the republic can assume all responsibility for implementing all decisions according to Moscow’s wishes. Thus, Moscow’s desire to get the same results in Dagestan as they did in Chechnya is hardly feasible at this point. Dagestan requires its own approach that would be uniquely suited to the peculiarities of this republic. Having tripped over Dagestan, Russia may never recover its influence in the North Caucasus region.