Insurgency-Related Incidents Reported in Chechnya, Dagestan and Kabardino-Balkaria

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 13 Issue: 3

In a video posted yesterday (February 2) to the rebel Kavkaz-Center website, Doku Umarov, the “emir” of the Caucasus Emirate, ordered his forces to refrain from attacks on Russian civilians in connection with the fact that, as the website characterized it, “the process of civil protest has begun in Russia and the population no longer accepts Putin’s policies.” According to Umarov, this could mean that Russian citizens do not support the methods of war in the North Caucasus sanctioned by Putin. Therefore, he said, the Russian population has the choice either of supporting the Russian authorities and again becoming rebel targets, or decisively rejecting “the policy of murder and terror” in the North Caucasus and thereby avoiding attacks by the “mujahideen.” Umarov added that the moratorium on attacks on civilian targets does not include the Russian military and political structures, or the Russian state itself, until there is a “truce,” meaning that the Russian power structures, army, special services and political leadership will still be targeted (http://www.kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2012/02/03/88591.shtml).
 
Commenting on Umarov’s latest video statement, Avraham Shmulevich, the Israeli political scientist and Caucasus expert who is president of the Institute of Eastern Partnership and adviser to the Circassian Congress, wrote in his blog that if the Caucasus Emirate militants really do halt attacks on the Russian civilian population, it could mean a “radical change in the course of the terrorist-partisan war they are carrying out against the authorities of the Russian Federation.” Shmulevich wrote that killing Russian civilians cannot influence the policy of the Russian authorities, given that the Russian population has no influence on the Kremlin, but simply leads to “the growth of an anti-Caucasian and anti-Muslim mood among Russians and a significant growth in support for Putin, because he positions himself as a protector of the people from terror.” If the rebels target only top officials and security forces, this will win them “truly nationwide support in Russia itself” and rob the Kremlin of one of its main sources of legitimacy in the eyes of the population and the West, Shmulevich wrote (http://avrom-caucasus.livejournal.com/155534.html).
 
Meanwhile, Dagestani leader Magomedsalam Magomedov told a meeting of the republic’s “siloviki” (including the heads of the republican Interior Ministry, Federal Security Service branch and prosecutor’s office) held in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala yesterday (February 2) that five “combined operational groups,” consisting of Interior Ministry and FSB personnel and Internal Troops commandos, have been set up in areas where the republic’s rebels are most active – the Derbent, Kizlyar, Sergokalinsky, Untsukulsky and Tsumadinsky districts. According to Dagestani Interior Minister Abdurashid Magomedov, there were 196 attacks on law-enforcement personnel last year in which 91 staffers were killed and 231 wounded. Magomedov said that 12 rebel groups totaling 250-300 militants are operating in the republic. The ranks of the rebels are being “actively replenished,” he stated (www.kavkaz-center.ru, February 3; www.interfax.ru, February 2).
 
Meanwhile, units from Chechnya’s Interior Ministry and the Chechen-manned Sever battalion of the Russian Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops, jointly with Dagestani Interior Ministry units, are conducting an operation against militants along the Dagestani-Chechen administrative border. A large-scale operation was reportedly taking place today (February 3) in a wooded area of eastern Chechnya that borders Dagestan’s Kabeksky district. The operation began (February 2) yesterday after security forces discovered a group of four to five rebels, who escaped into the woods following an exchange of fire with the security forces.
 
For his part, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said yesterday (February 2) that he and the leaders of Dagestan and Chechnya had reached an agreement to carry out joint operations against rebels in the area along their administrative borders. “The number of bandits in the Chechen Republic is small: there are only several tens of bandits running around the mountains,” Kadyrov said. “So far they have managed to hide in the border zone with neighboring regions. But that is not for long, because now we will be fighting the terrorists together. We will not leave a place for the bandits in the border areas.” While Kadyrov has in the past claimed there are no more than 50 rebels operating in Chechnya, according to the Chechen Interior Ministry, 56 rebels were killed and more than 200 captured in the republic in 2011. In 2010, Chechen security officials reported that 87 rebels were killed and 220 were captured (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 2-3).
 
On January 31, the home of the first deputy chairman of the National Council of the Nogai People, Zalimkhan Kocherov, was shot up in the village of Terekli-Mekteb in Dagestan’s Nogai district. No one was hurt in the incident (www.regnum.ru, February 1).
 
On January 28, two children were wounded in a blast in Makhachkala. The explosion was the result of a bomb that detonated in a trash can near a home in the Dagestani capital. Fifteen minutes earlier, someone had hurled a grenade from a car at the same home. One of the children wounded in the attack died yesterday (February 2) (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, January 28 and February 2).
 
On January 27, a police major, Kurban Akhmedov, was shot and killed as he was getting out of his car and walking to his home in the village of Chapaevo in Dagestan’s Kumtorkalinsky district. A law-enforcement source was quoted as saying that Akhmedov worked for the Dagestani Interior Ministry’s anti-extremism center (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, January 27).
 
In Kabardino-Balkaria, the head of the republic’s Urvansky district, Antemirkan Kanokov, was wounded and an Interior Ministry employee was killed yesterday (February 2) when the car they were travelling in came under fire. The incident took place on the Staryi Cherek – Chernaya Rechka highway (www.itar-tass.com, www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 2).