Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 91

On May 9, federal forces completed their special operation in the Chechen town of Argun. The operation began on May 7, when a federal troop column was fired on in the town. Federal Security Service (FSB) Public Relations Center chief Aleksandr Zdanovich claimed yesterday that sixteen rebel fighters were killed during the special operation–a number considerably higher than those given in earlier reports (see the Monitor, May 9). Zdanovich also said that among the rebels killed was field commander Yusupov, known in Chechnya by the pseudonym Abubakar, who, according to the FSB, was closely connected to Arbi Baraev, one of the rebel forces’ leaders. According to Zdanovich, one soldier from the Russian army and one from the Interior Ministry were killed during the operation, and others were injured. Zdanovich said that overall the operation was a success. Earlier this year, President Vladimir Putin put the FSB in charge of the Chechen operation.

It should be noted that Zdanovich’s account differs considerably from that put out by the Chechen side, which claimed that forty Russian servicemen were killed and several dozen wounded during the operation (Lenta.ru, May 9; see also the Monitor, May 9). In addition, it is also clear that despite the Kremlin’s already pro forma assurances that the “counterterrorism operation” is going well, the guerrilla war is raging in the republic with no signs of let-up. Two Russian servicemen were shot dead today at the entrance to the main building of Grozny University. On May 8, two servicemen were killed and one wounded when a Russian artillery position near Gudermes came under attack. A police station in Gudermes itself came under fire that same day. One policeman was killed and another injured in that attack. In all, Russian targets around the republic, including in the capital, came under fire eight times yesterday (Radio Liberty, May 9).