The founder of the Dagestani independent weekly newspaper Chernovik, Khadzhimurad Kamalov, was shot to death In Makhachkala late yesterday (December 15). The incident took place around 11:30 pm, local time, near the newspaper’s offices in the Dagestani capital. Kavkazsky Uzel reported that the murder was not carried out in a fashion typical of Dagestani militants: the website noted that it took place near the victim’s office and that the shooter was reportedly wearing a mask. It is also worth noting that Kamalov’s name was among those that appeared on an anonymous so-called “execution list” circulated in Makhachkala in September 2009 that threatened to kill more than 250 alleged rebels in revenge for the killing of police and civilians by militants. Eight journalists, including Kamalov and several other Chernovik staffers, were included on the list for allegedly having collaborated with the militants (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 16; EDM, September 9, 2009).
In June 2009, Dagestani authorities filed a lawsuit to shut down Chernovik because of its alleged support for extremist views. The authorities’ campaign against Chernovik started soon after it published an article in 2008 about a highly controversial counter-insurgency operation in Makhachkala during which, according to the newspaper and other reports, innocent people were killed – including a professor of a local university, his wife and their friend (EDM, June 30, 2009).
In July of this year, Kamalov reported that Russian security forces had fired on two civilian cars they thought were rebel vehicles, killing three local residents and wounding five. The incident took place in Dagestan’s Kizlyar district after the federal servicemen came under insurgent fire (EDM, July 8).
The head of Dagestan, Magomedsalam Magomedov, announced today (December 16) that he had taken the investigation of Kamalov’s murder under special control, ordering that the killers be found as quickly as possible (www.rbc.ru, December 16). For his part, the Russian president’s envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District, Aleksandr Khloponin, said today that he had taken the investigation into Kamalov’s murder under his personal control (www.interfax.ru, December 16).
Kamalov’s murder took place on the day of remembrance for Russian journalists killed in the line of duty. That day has been observed by Russian journalists every December 15 since 1991(www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 15).
Also on December 15, unidentified men kidnapped Aleksandr Misrikhanov, the general director of Dagestan’s largest chain of jewelry stores, in Makhachkala. The incident took place around 8 pm, local time, when Misrikhanov was forced into a Lada Priora automobile and driven off in an unknown direction (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 16).
On December 14, the acting head of the investigative department of the Investigative Committee’s branch in Makhachkala’s Sovietsky district, Arsen Gadzhibekov, was killed in the city of Kaspiisk. The murder took place shortly after midnight near an apartment building when gunmen in a Lada Priora shot the 45-year-old Gadzhibekov, who died on the spot (www.newsru.com, www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 14).
In Kabardino-Balkaria, the bullet-riddled bodies of three residents of the Elbrus district were found in a car in the village of Bylym, according to reports from the republic today (December 16). The victims were identified as Boris Akhmatov and Sapar Makitov, both of them Bylym residents, and Svetlana Malkarova, a resident of the city of Tyrnyauz. Investigators found nineteen 7.62 mm shell casings, ten 5.45 mm shell casings and two 9 mm casings at the scene of the crime (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 16).
On December 13-14, security forces in Kabardino-Balkaria conducted a special operation targeting rebels on the outskirts of the village of Zhankhoteko. According to the republic’s Interior Ministry, four rebels were killed in the operation, which involved the use of aviation (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 14).
On December 12, a 30-year-old investigator with the investigative department of Kabardino-Balkaria’s Interior Ministry, Murat Gergov, was shot to death in the republic’s Baksan district. The incident took place around 9 p.m., local time, near Gergov’s home in the village of Islamaee (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 12).
In Ingushetia, three servicemen were wounded on December 14 when a roadside bomb detonated on the outskirts of the city of Nazran as servicemen from the 126th regiment of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops were patrolling the area around their base. The incident took place around 8:20 am, local time (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 14).
On December 9, Ingushetia’s deputy health minister, Sofa Esmurzieva, was wounded when gunmen fired at her as she was getting into her car near her home in Nazran. She was hospitalized with a bullet wound to the leg (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, December 9).