FSB Major Kidnapped in Kabardino-Balkaria

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 40

A major with the Kabardino-Balkaria branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) was kidnapped in the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria, Nalchik, on October 10, RIA Novosti reported on October 15. Citing sources in Kabardino-Balkaria’s law-enforcement bodies, the news agency reported that the 31-year-old officer was kidnapped on the morning of October 10 after his car was stopped by two VAZ automobiles in Nalchik while he was on his way to work in Nalchik. Interfax reported that the incident took place on October 11, not October 10 when the major’s car was stopped by armed people driving in two VAZ-2110 automobiles. The FSB major’s driver was not touched, a source told Interfax.

The source said investigators were looking into several possible theories about the kidnapping, one of the most probable being that it was organized by “Wahhabis.” The source noted that October 11 had marked the start of the trial in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Supreme Court of nearly five dozen men charged in connection with the October 2005 armed uprising by Islamic militants in Nalchik, which left at least 139 people dead. Indeed, the Associated Press reported on October 11 that court officials began hearing arguments before deciding which evidence would be admissible in the trial of the 59 suspects facing terrorism and other charges. Interfax’s source said the kidnapping of the FSB major may have been an attempt to exert pressure on the court.

On the other hand, according to sources knowledgeable about the Kabardino-Balkhar Jammat, FSB Major Murat Gergokov is respected by the rebels as a pure Muslim. Both he and his wife were students at the Islamic Institute in Nalchik, and frequently attended the lectures of Kalbardinia-Balkharia’s most wanted men, Anzor Astemirov, Musa Mukozhev and Rasul Kudaev, who used to give lectures and teach at the institute. According to Fatima Tlisova, a well-known expert on the North Caucasus, there is a distinct possibility that Gergokov may have been kidnapped by Russian secret services. According to the Russian news agency Agentura.ru, there is a special group from the GRU that is based in Stavropol Krai but has a “working arena” that is specifically Kabardino-Balkaria. As Agentura.ru reported, the most recent operation of this group was the killing of former Guantanamo prisoner Ruslan Odizhev in Nalchik this past September.