A guerrilla raid on well-defended Grozny would be a more difficult challenge for the separatist rebels than the recent raid on Ingushetia, and a much more impressive achievement should it succeed. But the recent experience in Ingushetia, combined with memories of the rebels’ brilliant storming of Grozny in 1996, now has the Chechen capital on edge. Even if the rebels do not attempt an attack, the newly widespread rumors about such a possibility are already giving them something of a psychological victory.
In a July 8 report for Prague Watchdog, Timur Aliyev noted that the rumors are having real, concrete results. “Many residents are temporarily leaving the city for villages,” he wrote. “Some organizations even told their employees that they might decide not to come to work. Some top officials of the municipal administration who had told the staff to stay at home for two days were punished for spreading false alarming information. Ramzan Kadyrov…was forced to speak to the public not to give in to panic, trying to calm down the people.”