Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 2 Issue: 25

On the night of June 19 to June 20, the exchange of gunfire in the Chechen capital was the fiercest in the past month. According to Major Mikhail Mazuk of the pro-Moscow police force of Leninsky District, “During the night there were confirmed eleven large-scale exchanges of fire at almost all the checkpoints in the Chechen capital. Throughout all of Chechnya, the rebels fired thirty-two times at the positions of the federal forces” (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, June 21). On June 21–the day that marked the first anniversary of the appointment of Akhmad Kadyrov–two pro-Moscow policemen were killed when their car ran over a mine in the capital. On the same day, unidentified gunmen made an attack, which failed, on the deputy chief of the republic’s anticrime unit, Dzhalaudin Mezhiev (Reuters, June 21; Izvestia, June 22). Several days later, on June 25, armed separatists, employing grenade launchers and automatic weapons, opened fire, “simultaneously and from several directions,” on the Russian military base at Khankala (Russian agencies, June 25).

Early in the morning of June 21, unidentified attackers fired at the house in Djohar of the former pro-Moscow mayor of that city, now a chief federal inspector, Bislan Gantamirov, using grenade launchers and machine guns. Gantamirov was not at home but his brother, Ali, director of the Lenin Oil Refinery in Djohar, was. The ensuing firefight lasted for more than two hours, and three of Gantamirov’s bodyguards were wounded. Russian troops, though present in large numbers in the city, delayed their arrival for more than two hours, prompting the pro-Moscow Chechen administration to ask pointedly, “why did they not offer any resistance to the rebels, who fired at the house of Bislan Gantamirov for two-and-a-half hours?” (Gazeta.ru, June 22).