Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 33

Three Dagestani policemen were shot to death on September 6 in Dagestan’s Kyakentsky district, the strana.ru and Kavkazky Uzel websites reported. The murders took place when unidentified attackers fired at a police car traveling on the Kavkaz federal highway near the village of Pervomaiskoe and the settlement of Inchkhe. The three policemen who were killed in the attack were identified as Amirkhan Balmatov, a senior traffic police lieutenant; Alikhadi Zagirov, a sergeant in the patrol-sentry service; and Rustam Mamedov, a lieutenant who worked as a district militia officer. A source in the Kyakentsky district prosecutor’s office told strana.ru that the shooters had carried out the attack “professionally.” “They chose their position competently and aimed their fire,” he said. “There was a minimum of two attackers. Shell casings of two calibers—7.62 and 5.45 millimeters—were found at the scene.” A total of 24 shell casings were found, and strana.ru’s source said that Balmatov, who was driving the car, was “literally riddled with bullets.”

Kavkazky Uzel reported that investigators are looking into several possible motives for the murders, and quoted Kayakentsky district police chief Kurban Agaev as saying one theory is that “Wahhabi” gunmen were responsible. The website noted that about a month ago, the head of the GAI traffic police department in the Dagestani city of Izberbash was murdered in virtually the same spot (see Chechnya Weekly, July 27).

A bomb blast in Makhachkala on September 2 killed two servicemen and two civilians, Kommersant reported on September 3. Nezavisimaya gazeta reported September 5 that the blast was caused by an explosive device hidden in a bag of trash on a roadside that was detonated as sappers from the 102nd brigade of Internal Troops inspected an unauthorized garbage dump. Kavkazky Uzel reported that the civilians killed were driving by in a car at the time of the explosion. Eleven people were wounded in the blast.

Kommersant reported that immediately after the blast, a VAZ-21099 automobile drove away from the scene at high speed. A police detachment tried to stop the car as it drove through an intersection, but the vehicle did not slow down and its passengers opened fire with automatic weapons. The car was found a half hour later abandoned in a canal approximately five kilometers away from the bombing scene, the newspaper reported. Ilyamin Magomedov, head of the police department in Makhachkala’s Kirov district, gave a somewhat different version, telling the Associated Press that a group of people were spotted filming the explosion and jumped in a car to flee the city, but were stopped by police on the road to Khasavyurt, near the Chechen border. There, according to Magomedov, three men jumped out and opened fire, wounding one policeman. One of the suspects was reportedly also wounded in the exchange but the group managed to escape, Magomedov told the AP. The wire service also quoted a Dagestani Interior Ministry spokesman, Abdulmanap Musaev, as saying that a large bomb and about 100 automatic rifle cartridges were found in the attackers’ car.

Milrad Fatullaev wrote from Makhachkala for the September 5 edition of Nezavisimaya gazeta that the ongoing violence in Dagestan is connected to support from the federal center for “authoritarian leaders” in the North Caucasus “who have constructed in their specific fiefdoms an ethno-clan system of administration, have been exposed for stealing budget funds and maintaining ties with open criminals. Rare checks by the Audit Chamber of the Russian Federation in the North Caucasus come down to exposing insignificant cases of misappropriating funds earmarked for liquidating the consequences of floods or compensating for lost housing,” Fatullaev wrote. “Yet, not a single criminal case [is launched] against people in office.”