Ingushetia: Attacks Continue, as do Charges of Official Lawlessness

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 19

Gunmen in Ingushetia killed three policemen on May 14. Reuters quoted a police source as saying that the three officers were found shot dead in a forested area outside Nazran. The Associated Press quoted the Interior Ministry’s branch in Ingushetia as saying that the officers were killed by unknown gunmen who ambushed their patrol car on a highway. RIA Novosti reported that the attackers were traveling in two cars and opened fire on a traffic police patrol, killing the head of the local traffic police department and two officers. Also on May 14, a couple and their landlord were killed during a special operation in Nazran. RIA Novosti quoted local prosecutors as saying that police had cordoned off a house in Nazran the previous day following reports that a militant wanted for a number of serious crimes and his wife had been renting a basement there. The militants refused to surrender and shot their landlord before being killed when police returned fire. An assault rifle, a gun and a grenade were discovered at the scene. On May 15, Nezavisimaya Gazeta identified the slain couple as Adam Bogatyrev and Madina Plieva, who had been hiding in the basement of Yakha Izmailova. The newspaper reported that an opposition website in Ingushetia claimed Izmailova was killed by gunfire from security forces but that law-enforcement sources had categorically denied this claim.

RIA Novosti on May 14 quoted a police source as saying that an arms cache containing an automatic weapon, three Kalashnikov assault rifles, a grenade launcher round and 865 cartridges was found in a forest near the town of Karabulak, northeast of Nazran.

On May 12, a home-made explosive device equivalent to around 300 grams of TNT was found in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky district. According to RIA Novosti, the device, which consisted of a plastic bottle packed with explosives, was disarmed after being discovered in a pile of gravel near a street. Police said the bomb would have been detonated by a cell phone.

On May 10, security forces completed a special operation in the village of Troitskaya in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky district, killing two alleged members of “illegal armed formations” who had been hiding in one of the village’s houses and wounding another, Kavkazky Uzel reported. A republican Interior Ministry source told the website that a car which had been stolen from Kambulat Zyazikov, the republic’s deputy mufti, at gunpoint the previous day was found at the house along with four grenade launchers, two automatic rifles a pistol and “extremist” literature. Earlier that day, the website had reported that a motorized regiment in Troitskaya had been attacked with grenade launchers. However, the republic’s Interior Ministry subsequently denied that such an attack had taken place.

“The authorities continue to claim that they completely control the situation in Ingushetia and the official website of the republic reports nothing either about incidents or heightened alert on the part of the security services,” Nezavisimaya Gazeta noted on May 15. The newspaper also quoted the press service of Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry as saying that special operations were bringing “positive results” and that the situation in the republic is not deteriorating, but that “in the republic there are forces interested in destabilizing the situation” (see Mairbek Vatchagaev’s piece in this issue).

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel on May 10 identified the two alleged militants killed in Troitskaya as Timur Uzhakov, a resident of the village of Barsuki, and Movsar Osiev, a resident of the city of Malgobek. The opposition website quoted Troitskaya residents as saying that the two were killed as they were getting out of a sauna and had not offered armed resistance, as officials claimed. According to the website, on April 22, relatives of Movsar Oziev and his brother Dzhamal appealed to the Memorial human rights group for legal aid. They claimed that the previous day, April 21, 30 officers belonging to Russian “power structures” and the Malgobek police force had gone to a home owned by the brothers’ grandmother with the goal of apprehending them. All of the officers except for one, a Malgobek police inspector Magomed Bekbuzarov, were reportedly wearing masks. The brothers were not found but, according to their relatives, the visiting law-enforcers carried out an illegal search of the home and insulted their grandmother, a survivor of two heart attacks.

The brothers’ sister told Memorial that they were first detained on February 28 of this year, taken off in an unknown direction and beaten during a stop on the roadway, after which they were taken to the Malgobek police station, where they were further beaten as their interrogators demanded that they confess to various crimes. Kavkazky Uzel had earlier quoted Dzhamal Oziev as saying that those who detained him had beaten him in the neck, back and head with a rifle butt and demanded that he confess to the murder of a law-enforcement officer, Asian Kodzoev, in the Village of Srednie Achaluki in Ingushetia’s Malgobeksky district this past January. Movsar Oziev, for his part, said he was beaten in turn by seven or eight people.

Movsar Oziev was remanded in custody for alleged participation in Kodzoev’s murder while his brother Dzhamal was released. Movsar said he was continually beaten over a period of four days by his captors, who demanded that he confess to the murder. He was released after signing an agreement not to leave the area, but, according to his sister, did not subsequently appear for interrogation because he feared even worse treatment, and as a result was placed on the wanted list on April 9. The brothers’ sister said that neither brother was involved in the murder and that she seriously feared for their lives, adding that they were willing to come in for questioning if they were guaranteed they would not be tortured.