Yesterday morning, inhabitants of four border districts in Dagestan blocked the "Kavkaz" federal highway, the Chelyusovskaya Hydroelectric Power Station, and two minor roads. They had only one demand: that all Dagestani citizens forcibly held in Chechnya — including the seven policemen from the Kazbekovsky district who have been held hostage for two months — be freed. Since diplomatic meetings and peace negotiations have brought no result, the relatives, friends and neighbors of the victims have resorted to drastic measures. Next, the strikers say they will block the railroad.
Dagestani Security Council Secretary Magomed Tolboev visited the site of the blockade yesterday in an effort to persuade the protesters to abandon their protest and leave it to the republic authorities to get the hostages released. (RTR, NTV, February 26) Later, he told the Monitor that Dagestan’s Security Council has called on the federal government to allow the residents of districts bordering Chechnya to set up self-defense detachments. This initiative has not, however, been approved by Moscow. "Unless the Kremlin finds a way to protect Dagestanis from raids from Chechnya, such protests will inevitably be repeated," Tolboev warned yesterday.
A maverick branch of the Don Cossacks, based in Novocherkassk in Rostov Oblast, has decided to take matters into its own hands. Ataman Nikolai Kozitsyn, leader of the splinter group, announced that the Cossacks he leads are going to form their own territorial units and are thinking of setting up their own police and even Cossack courts. Kozitsyn’s organization represents only part of the Don Cossacks, however, and is at loggerheads with the regional government in Rostov Oblast. (Segodnya, February 25)
Adamkus Inaugurated as President of Lithuania.