Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 135

On July 9 police in the Tsymadinsk region of Dagestan raided the village of Echeda and seized weapons, ammunition, narcotics and anti-Russian literature. In response, local adherents of Wahabbi Islam took two policemen hostage and demanded that police personnel be removed from Echeda and other nearby villages and that the searches be ended. After long negotiations, the captured police officers were released, though the Wahabbis kept their weapons. Yesterday negotiations were being carried out to recover the weapons and stabilize the situation (Kommersant, July 13).

While the incident in Echeda would appear to be insignificant, it indicates a general tendency in Dagestan. For example, the village of Karamakhi, which is also a stronghold of Wahabbi adherents–or, more accurately, Islamic fundamentalists–has been beyond the control of official Makhachkala for roughly two years. The events in Karamakhi also began with the taking of hostages and the expulsion of Dagestani police. Karamakhi is today a virtual mini-state, in which neither local nor federal elections are held, where the judicial system has been replaced by Sharia law and women are veiled. Karamakhi is inhabited by ethnic Dargins while Echeda is populated by Avars, indicating that fundamentalism is spreading among various ethnic groups. The Dagestani fundamentalists are seeking the republic’s secession from the Russian Federation and the creation of a united Islamic state on the territory of Chechnya and Dagestan. The local fundamentalists enjoy broad support from Chechen radicals. One girl from Karamakhi married the well-known Chechen rebel field commander Khattab. Official Makhachkala has claimed more than once that both Khattab’s fighters and Wahabbis from Karamakhi participated in the raid on the Russian base in Buinaksk.

Meanwhile, on July 12 in Djohar, a special session of the Shura of Chechen and Dagestani Islamic scholars sentenced Kemerovo Oblast Governor Aman Tuleev to death. Tuleev, who is of Muslim extraction, was reported late last month to have converted to Russian Orthodoxy–a report Tuleev’s office has denied. The Shura’s “fatwah” obliges any Muslim who encounters Tuleev to carry out the death sentence (Kommersant, July 13).