Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 12

The head of Dagestan’s Botlikhsk district, Ruslan Aliev, died on March 22 from bullet wounds he received during an attack earlier in the day. Following the attack, Itar-Tass reported that Aliev and his four bodyguards had been wounded during an assassination attempt in Makhachkala. The news service, citing a duty police officer at the republic’s Interior Ministry, reported that unidentified gunmen fired on Aliev’s jeep on Magomed Gadzhiev Street in the Dagestani capital at 2PM, Moscow time. “As a result of the shooting, Ruslan Aliev and his four bodyguards were wounded,” the source said. “Four passers-by were also wounded.” All the victims were rushed to the nearest hospital.

Itar-Tass reported on March 23 that four residents of Dagestan’s Gunibsky district had carried out the attack. The news agency, citing the Dagestani Interior Ministry, identified the attackers as Magomed Shuaibov (born 1975), Akbar Kuramagomedov (born 1975), Varis Churaev (born 1989) and Omar Khachalov (born 1974).

Meanwhile, Itar-Tass reported on March 20 that up to seven civilians had been injured when police broke up a demonstration in Dagestan’s Kumtorkalinsky district by some 1,000 residents claiming that land had been distributed unfairly. Police said they fired shots in the air when the protestors tried to seize the local administration building. “Trying to keep back the crowd, the police and the administration head’s security officers fired warning shots into the air, and as a result between five and seven people were wounded,” said a spokesman for the Kumtorkalinsky District Internal Affairs Department, adding that the bullets that injured the civilians must have ricocheted off the walls of a nearby building. Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov reportedly traveled to the scene of the unrest.

Kommersant reported on March 22 that some 200 local residents, including women, had gathered on March 21 in Kumtorkalinsky district center and were armed with sticks, bats and pieces of metal in expectation of a confrontation with supporters of district administration head Sapiyulla Karachaev from the village of Tarki. According to the newspaper, the violence in Kumtorkalinsky on March 20 was halted only after a large contingent of OMON riot police brought in from Makhachkala was deployed.

A Dagestani journalist told Ekho Moskvy on March 16 of an incident in which Russian servicemen based in Dagestan allegedly desecrated a Koran. Marko Shakhbanov, a reporter with the Chernovik newspaper, told the radio station that during a search of dead rebel fighter’s house in the Khasavyurt district, officers of the federal Interior Ministry’s 102nd Brigade had threatened the slain militant’s wife, telling her “if in Guantanamo or Abu Ghraib you are raped by a dozen, here you will be given to our servicemen.” Shakhbanov claimed that one of the Russian servicemen then “took a Koran from a shelf and started tearing pages out of it one by one” while sitting down in a chair, after which he “threw it on the floor where they were walking and went out into the yard. A Dagestani policeman who entered after him picked up the pages of the Koran and put it on the stove. But that other officer again took the Koran from the stove and started to slowly cut its pages with scissors, evidently deriving pleasure from this.”