IS DAGESTAN THE NEXT CHECHNYA?
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 22
An article published in Nezavisimaya gazeta on June 6 declared straightforwardly that Dagestan is becoming “a second Chechnya.” Attacks against the staff of law-enforcement agencies are becoming more frequent in Dagestan than in Chechnya, the newspaper stated, pointing to the incident in Khasavyurt on June 4 in which a roadside bomb was detonated as a police patrol drove by. While no policemen were injured in that blast, it destroyed a nearby gas pipeline and blew out windows in nearby apartment buildings. A similar incident occurred in Makhachkala on June 3, when a bomb was detonated as a police van was passing by. One policeman received multiple shrapnel wounds in that attack.
As Nezavisimaya gazeta noted, both attacks took place as Dagestan’s Interior Ministry was conducting an operation designated “Filter,” aimed at rooting out serious crimes, particularly terrorist attacks, which involved heightening security in Makhachkala. That operation was launched following a series of earlier incidents, including the June 2 murder of a police lieutenant, Osman Osmanov, who was shot as he was entering his apartment building in Makhachkala. On June 1, a powerful bomb went off in the Dagestani capital as a bus carrying 20 police officers was driving by. Seven officers and two passers-by were lightly wounded in the blast, the Associated Press reported.
Nezavisimaya gazeta quoted an unnamed deputy of General-Major Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the Russian military operation in the North Caucasus, as saying that it was possible the upsurge in attacks in Dagestan was due to the fact that Dagestani militants were getting increased help from their Chechen counterparts. The source told the newspaper that Rappani Khalilov, a Dagestani militant leader, is hiding in eastern Chechnya and in the mountains of Dagestan. The source also said that it is impossible to defeat “Wahhabism” in Dagestan militarily and that it is necessary to “strengthen propaganda concerning the malignancy of this religious teaching.”