Ingushetia: More Attacks on Servicemen, Kidnappings by Security Forces

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 37

Unidentified gunmen fired on an armored personnel carrier ferrying Interior Ministry Internal Troops between the settlements of Galashki and Alkhasti in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district on September 26. An Ingush law-enforcement source told Kavkazky Uzel that attackers apparently fired from automatic weapons and grenade launchers. “As a result of the attack several servicemen were wounded,” the source told the website. “The criminals escaped from the scene of the incident.” Kavkazky Uzel reported that according to other sources, two or three servicemen were wounded in the attack. On September 27, two militants were reportedly killed and one captured during a special operation in the village of Sagopshi in the republic’s Malgobeksky district. The Rosbalt news agency, citing the press service of Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, identified one the two militants killed as Sait-Magomed Galaev, aka Abdul-Malik, who was the emir of the militants in the Malgobeksky district. According to the RBK news agency, all three militants – the two who were killed plus the one who was captured – were brothers. Two policemen were wounded in the shootout. On September 20, two servicemen were killed and two wounded when their automobile came under fire in Nazran, Interfax reported. Earlier that day, unidentified gunmen opened fire on a car carrying Interior Ministry troops on the Kavkaz federal highway near the village of Yandare. Two servicemen were wounded in that attack.

The independent website claimed on September 24 that Ingushetian Interior Minister Musa Medov had given verbal orders to police not to record incidents of gun attacks, explosions and other “terrorist acts.” By way of example, the website said that a pursuit and shootout which took place on the Kavkaz federal highway in the Nazran district on September 22 was never officially recorded. It also reported that “all the people of Nazran were awakened on the evening of September 23 by an explosion” caused either by a bomb or firing from a grenade launcher, yet the incident was not recorded by Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry. reported earlier this month that various rebel attacks had not been recorded by the republic’s Interior Ministry.

Kavkazky Uzel, citing, reported on September 25 that the previous day, security forces had seized two brothers, Musa and Adam Estoev, from their home in Barsuki, a village in Ingushetia’s Nazran municipal district that is the native village of Ingushetia’s president, Murat Zyazikov. The brothers were seized by ten armed men in masks who arrived at the Estoev family home in several armored vehicles and cars without license plates. reported that members of a federal Interior Ministry mobile unit and other power structures deployed to Ingushetia from Russian regions participated in the raid. Two local law-enforcement officers who also participated in the raid reportedly “expressed displeasure when the siloviki beat the Estoevs during their capture, clubbing the brothers with the butts of their automatic rifles.”

After several hours, relatives of the brothers managed to find out that they had been taken to the Nazran City Internal Affairs Department (GOVD), where they were thrown into the room for administrative detainees, known as the obezyannik, or monkey-house. “The brothers were individually taken to rooms where the siloviki covered their heads with plastic bags and taunted them, telling them to adhere to Islam and do the Namaz [Muslim prayer]. A request by the Estoevs to let them see a lawyer was rejected. No concrete accusations were made against them other than displeasure over their fulfillment of their religious obligations and some incomprehensible questions about one or another person whom they didn’t know.” The police then took the brothers to a magistrate, Batyr Toldiev, to get him to formally charge them with resisting arrest, but the magistrate decided only to fine them. Despite that, police continued to hold the brothers at the GOVD headquarters, with officers from other Russian regions stationed in Ingushetia “insulting them, taking them into rooms and subjecting them to humiliating procedures,” Kavkazky Uzel reported. “Again, polyethylene bags were placed over the guys’ heads, as a result of which they were suffocated and partially lost consciousness,” the website wrote, adding that local Nazran GOVD officers watched all of this without intervening.

The brothers were released around midnight on September 24 after relatives began to organize mass protests in Nazran and Magas and to send delegations to protest directly to President Zyazikov and Musa Medov, the republic’s Interior Minister. Kavkazky Uzel noted on September 25 that a third Estoev brother, Zurab, has been in the custody of the authorities for nearly two years on the basis of what relatives and friends considered to be “farfetched accusations.”

A protest in Nazran earlier this month over the detention of the Aushev brothers from the village of Surkhakhi escalated into a violent confrontation with police and other security forces, after which the brothers were released from custody (Chechnya Weekly, September 20). Following their release on September 20, quoted the two Aushev brothers as telling protesters in Nazran that after they were abducted while leaving the Chechen capital of Grozny two days earlier, they had been dumped in a basement filled with rats, whose floor was covered with dried blood. Their captors, who beat them and threatened to shoot them, spoke in Russian and occasionally used Ossetian words – something the brothers said they thought their captors did deliberately to make them think they had been taken to North Ossetia. The brothers said they thought they were kept in the basement either of the Ingushetian FSB headquarters or the North Ossetian FSB headquarters. They recalled that one of their captors said, “We will shoot Mutsolgov next” – referring to Magomed Mutsolgov, head of the Ingush human rights group Mashr. The Aushev brothers said that after being tortured for several hours, they were told that “it was their last night and they would be shot in the morning,” but instead were put in a car sometime later and dropped off outside a building. The brothers said they eventually wound up in Shatoi, Chechnya, where they were retrieved by relatives and taken back to Nazran the following morning.

Speaking to journalists in Moscow, Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov called the Aushev brothers’ kidnapping “a murky story,” Agence France-Presse reported on September 20. Commenting on the protests in Nazran following the Aushev brothers’ abduction, Zyazikov said unnamed forces inside Russia were seeking to destabilize Ingushetia. “Qui bono? Primarily, the enemies of Russia, certain forces in Moscow and the small opposition,” Zyazikov said during a press conference at the offices of Interfax in the Russian capital. “They are pooling efforts and using certain techniques. They want Ingushetia to be unstable.” Noting that Ingushetia borders Georgia, he said that someone wants Ingushetia “to be unsettled.” Zyazikov refused to name who was doing this but added: “That would be done by law enforcement.” He once again insisted that the situation in Ingushetia is calm and does not need outside help to maintain order. Zyazikov also insisted that there is no “underground terrorist ring” in Ingushetia, Itar-Tass reported on September 20.

Dmitry Kozak, the former presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District who was elevated to the post of federal Regional Development Minister in this past week’s ministerial shakeup in Moscow, said prior to his promotion that the rising violence in Ingushetia would not force the federal center to take any “political decisions,” Itar-Tass reported. “I am firmly convinced that there are political forces that have embarked on this radical course towards destabilizing the situation, trying to put pressure on the federal authorities to take some political decisions,” Kozak told Vesti television on September 20. “And I would like to reiterate once again that whatever they do, political processes are not launched in this way. We are not going to take any decisions under this kind of pressure, under the pressure of these beastly crimes … Whatever the motives of these killings are, they … should not influence our policies.” The crime situation in Ingushetia “is a problem for the law-enforcement system only,” Kozak said, adding: “We are making every effort today to ensure that the law-enforcement system works much more effectively.”

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel, citing the Memorial human rights group, reported on September 22 that Gypsies were continuing to leave the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya following the September 11 murder of three members of a Gypsy family there (Chechnya Weekly, September 13). According to the website, ethnic Ingush living in Ordzhonikidzevskaya have started guarding ethnic Russian families living in the village, which has seen a number of attacks against non-Ingush residents in recent months. On September 6, two Russian-speaking ethnic Koreans were found shot to death in their home in the village (Chechnya Weekly, September 13). In July, Lyudmila Terekhina, a 55-year-old ethnic Russian teacher, and her son and daughter, both of them university students, were shot to death by unknown gunmen in their home in Ordzhonikidzevskaya. On July 18, ten people were wounded when a bomb detonated during the funeral for Lyudmila Terekhina and her two children at a cemetery in Ordzhonikidzevskaya (Chechnya Weekly, July 19).

Commenting on the situation in Ingushetia, the separatist Daymohk website compared it to the events that preceded the collapse of the Soviet Union and the breakup of Yugoslavia. “The conflict between the authorities and the people and the violence and degradation has reached their absolute limit,” Daymohk wrote, adding that the events could lead to Ingushetia breaking off from Russia. “The process of the collapse of

Russia is under way. More bloodshed along this path is inevitable for all the people of the Caucasus. And Ingushetia is just a link in this bloody chain.” The separatist website concluded: “So long as the Russians remain in our country, people shall forever weep.”