Kavkazcenter reported on March 10 that some 100 members of the pro-Moscow Chechen police force loyal to Ramzan Kadyrov had defected to the rebels in early March. Citing unnamed sources in Chechnya, the separatist website reported that most of the police officers who, along with their weapons, “fled to the mujahideen” in the mountains, are from villages in the Vedeno district, including Elistanzhi, Eshelkhatoy, Khatuni, Tevzana and Makhkety. Kavkazky Uzel on March 10 quoted a source in the Chechen prosecutor’s office as confirming the defection of the police officers, but added that there had been no official comment on them and that no criminal investigation into the defections had been launched.
A Chechen Interior Ministry source told the website: “This was to be expected. Dressed up bandits are taken into the police force and they want them to become lambs. As far as I know, they really [went over to the rebels] in the first days of March; I don’t know the exact numbers, but it was certainly more than 50 people with weapons and ammunition. The MVD of Chechnya reported it to Moscow only a few days ago, after the March 8 holiday. Orders immediately appeared here, of course, not to say a word to anybody, not to stir up a scandal. The republican MVD must review its personnel policy, stop taking amnestied militants into its ranks [and] carry out a complete certification of the personnel. Although, given the policy of Chechenization of the conflict, that is probably impossible.” The Chechen Interior Ministry officer added that “genuinely devoted people, former gantamirovtsy [police loyal to former Grozny Mayor Bislan Gantamirov], who together with us took Grozny, have been cleaned out [of the Chechen police] almost completely.”
Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 14 that three members of the republican Anti-Terrorist Center had been killed in a shootout with rebels that occurred during the course of a large-scale security operation that was ongoing in the Vedeno, Shali and Nozhai-Yurt districts. Four rebels reportedly died in the shootout. The security operation involved more than 3,000 law enforcement officers. According to a Chechen law enforcement source, Chechen law enforcement officers working jointly with Dagestani law enforcement personnel detained four suspected rebels in Nozhai-Yurt, which borders Dagestan. Radio Liberty reported on March 14 that two servicemen were killed and four wounded in a battle with rebels in the Shatoi district. One rebel was killed; the rest of the attackers managed to escape, the radio station reported.