Violence and unrest continued in parts the North Caucasus over the past week, as the Kremlin picked the governor of Krasnoyarsk to serve as representative in the new North Caucasus Federal District, and a top general accused Georgia of training North Caucasus rebels.
Security forces in Dagestan killed four suspected militants on the Kavkaz federal highway in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district in the early hours of January 20. Itar-Tass quoted the press service of the Dagestan branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) as saying that the incident took place when security officers stopped a car for a document check near the village of Manaskent, some 30 kilometers from the capital Makhachkala, and people inside opened fire. All four people inside the vehicle, including the driver, were killed in the ensuing shootout, and there were no injuries or fatalities among the security officers. The FSB source identified one of the slain gunmen as Magomedzagir Vagabov, a close aide of Magomedali Vagabov, the “ringleader of the Gubdenskaya terrorist gang” operating in several districts of Dagestan and in Makhachkala (Itar-Tass, January 20).
Also on January 20, the deputy of the tax inspectorate for Dagestan’s Levashinksy district, Nabigulla Aliev, was wounded when two unidentified persons in masks came up to his car near the inspectorate’s offices, located in the settlement of Levashi, and opened fire with automatic weapons. On January 19, security forces in Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala found three explosive devices ready for use in an apartment where suspected insurgents lived. One of the suspected rebels was taken into custody (Kavkazsky Uzel, January 20).
In Ingushetia, police in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya shot and killed a truck driver they mistook for a suicide bomber. The incident took place after an explosive device went off near a vehicle carrying police officers. The policemen were not hurt in the blast, but as other officers inspected the site of the blast, a Kamaz truck approached them and reportedly ignored orders to stop, after which it was fired on and the driver killed (Interfax, January 18).
On January 15, two policemen were killed and another wounded when unidentified gunmen fired on a car carrying policemen on the Kavkaz federal highway near the village of Yandare in Ingushetia’s Nazran district. One of the policemen was killed on the spot while the other died later in the hospital (January 15).
Meanwhile, Kaloi Akhilgov, spokesman for Ingushetia’s President Yunus-bek Yevkurov, said on January 18 that gas supplies for the cities of Magas, Nazran and several settlements in the Nazran district had been cut off as a result of a rupture of one section of the Stavropol-Tbilisi trunk pipeline caused by extreme cold and temperature differences on the administrative border of Ingushetia and North Ossetia. Akhilgov stressed that the rupture was not caused by a bomb blast, and said the gas supplies had been restored (Itar-Tass, January 18). On January 12, a bomb explosion on a gas pipeline in Dagestan left several districts in the republic and more than 100,000 people without gas supplies (EDM, January 14).
Authorities in Karachaevo-Cherkessia reported on January 21 that a 24-year-old resident of the republic’s Malokarachaevsky district had been detained on suspicion of involvement with “illegal armed formations.” The republic Interior Ministry’s press service said the detained man had been member of the group headed by the “emir” of Karachaevo-Cherkessia’s armed Islamic underground, Ruslan Khubiev, who was killed along with two other suspected rebels in a shootout with police last December (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, January 21).
In Chechnya, four suspected militants were killed in a special operation near the capital Grozny on January 19. The suspected rebels were surrounded and killed in a wooded area located between the villages of Chishki and Varandy in Chechnya’s Grozny district. Among those reportedly killed was Gingiskhan Gishaev, identified as a close associate of Chechen rebel leader and Caucasus Emirate “emir” Dokka Umarov. Kadyrov himself told reporters after the operation that Gishaev had personally shot dead border guards stationed on the border between Georgia and Russia as well as a Chechen policeman, and was also responsible for the death of other servicemen.
Kadyrov also announced that he had launched a special operation in Chechnya’s mountains to find and eliminate Dokka Umarov. He said Chechen Interior Ministry units would be among those carrying out the operation, which would be led by Adam Delimkhanov, the State Duma deputy representing Chechnya and Kadyrov’s anointed successor (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, Interfax, January 19).
On January 20, Kadyrov expressed his readiness to render all possible help to Aleksandr Khloponin, the Russian presidential representative to the newly-created North Caucasus Federal District, and even offered to provide him with housing in Chechnya (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, January 20).
Meanwhile, on January 16, Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev repeated his claim that terrorists are being trained in Georgia to carry out attacks in Russia’s North Caucasus, telling reporters in Rostov-on-Don that the Russian government has “documentary evidence” backing this charge (Interfax, January 16). On January 14, Yedelev told police officials in Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia, that terrorist groups are being trained by “foreign instructors” at military bases in Georgia “to carry out attacks in Russia.” Commenting on Yedelev’s allegation, Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said the Kremlin “is seeking for a pretext to escalate the situation to a maximum” on Georgia’s borders and create a pretext for carrying out “military provocations” against a sovereign country (RIA Novosti, Reuters, January 14; Civil Georgia, January 16).