Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov declared on July 7 that the June 22 suicide bombing that seriously wounded Ingush President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov was organized by Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov, who is emir of the Caucasus Emirate, and Akhmed Yevloev (aka Emir Magas), leader of the armed Islamist underground in Ingushetia. On June 27, the Riyadus Salikhin Martyrs’ Battalion, a group previously associated with the late Chechen rebel warlord Shamil Basaev, claimed responsibility for the attack on Yevkurov (EDM, July 1, 2). Kadyrov also reiterated the claim he has made in the past that the rebels operating in the region are supported by Western special services.
"The organizers of the attack are Yevloev and Umarov," Kadyrov told the deputy general director of the Interfax news agency, Renat Abdullin, in an interview published in Izvestia: "We are destroying their ‘emirs’ every day. The investigation will be complete when Umarov or Yevloev are no longer around." Kadyrov claimed that the real number of rebels in Chechnya is ten times lower than the estimates made by the federal military authorities, meaning that only 50-70 rebels remain in the republic. He also insisted that there are only "a dozen or so" inhabitants of Chechnya among the militants. "The majority of those located on the border of the Chechen Republic and the Republic of Ingushetia are Azerbaijanis, Turks, Ukrainians, Georgians, Arabs," he said, adding that 60-70 percent of the militants are "foreign mercenaries."
"We have information from a captured militant that they are given some kind of tablets, and that after taking them, a person comes to resemble a robot, and is in a daze," Kadyrov said. "They get these tablets from abroad and give them to young people. These are excellently trained workers of Western special services, who are working against the Russian Federation. They are using us, knowing our mentality, knowing that a majority of us are Muslims. They have good supplies and specialists. All of the foreign special services workers are operating against Russia. And the people of Russia accuse us. They think that a war is still going on here, that Chechens are bandits and terrorists. But Chechens are dying while protecting Russia’s [territorial] integrity. Hundreds of thousands died here, thousands of people disappeared without a trace, thousands of police died in battle" (www.izvestia.ru, July 7).
It is worth noting that Kadyrov’s interview came just several days after nine Chechen policemen taking part in joint operations with Ingush police along the Chechen-Ingush administrative border were killed in a rebel ambush (EDM, July 6). Kadyrov claimed in the interview that around 40 rebels have been killed during those joint operations -including, in just the last few days, "emirs close to Arab representatives and an Azeri mercenary."
Kadyrov vowed to see the joint operations through to their conclusion, saying that dozens of "terrorist bases" had already been discovered and destroyed and suggesting that the operations would be widened to include other neighboring republics. "We drove them out of there and will catch them in Ingushetia, or in Chechnya, or in Dagestan," he said. Kadyrov said his government had reached an agreement with Dagestan’s late Interior Minister, Adilgerei Magomedtagirov, to carry out joint operations with Dagestani security forces just before Magomedtagirov was killed by a sniper in early June (EDM, June 9). "I do not want to insult the leadership of Dagestan, but they have the most difficult situation in the North Caucasus, and they must work day and night," Kadyrov said. "If the Dagestani authorities do not take steps, it will play into the hands of the bandits. I would advise [Dagestan’s president] Mukhu Gimbatovich [Aliev] -he is a person greatly respected by us- that he take everything in hand and start to be in command and establish order, to gather worthy people around him (there are many such people there). We are prepared to cooperate" (www.izvestia.ru, July 7).
Kadyrov claimed he had learned from "informers" that Umarov had been wounded in the counter-insurgency operations along the Chechen-Ingush border and was "evacuated," while five of Umarov’s closest bodyguards, including a Georgian and an Azeri, had been killed. Kadyrov vowed that Umarov would be killed sooner or later.
At the same time, Kadyrov claimed that his government is "holding talks" with Akhmed Zakaev, the London-based prime minister of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI). "If he was told now that I am waiting for his call, he would phone me," Kadyrov said. "He would say that he is ready to come here. This is how good our relations are. I am telling him to be useful to his people at least once: I want this. This is all in God’s hands." Kadyrov said Zakaev is the only "person on the side of Ichkeria" he would like to "bring home" to Chechnya (www.izvestia.ru, July 7).
Meanwhile, Kadyrov said on July 8 that a man claiming to be the defense minister of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, Rusteman Makhauri, had been captured in a special operation near the village of Arshty in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district, during which four other militants were killed and several others captured. The rebel ambush that killed nine Chechen policemen took place in a wooded area on the road between Arshty and another Sunzha district village, Chemulga (EDM, July 6). The secretary of Ingushetia’s Security Council, Aleksei Vorobyov, was quoted today as saying that Makhauri (aka Medved) might have been involved in the attack on Yevkurov (Kommersant, July 9).