KBR Interior Minister: Republic’s Militants Well-Organized and Trained

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 8

Bomb disposal experts with the Interior Ministry for the Southern Federal District’s counter-terrorist Center ‘T’ defused a large bomb in a wooded area three kilometers outside the village of Babugent in the Cherkesk district of the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic (KBR), Kavkazky Uzel reported on February 28. “The explosive device was located in a hiding place,” a source in the KBR Interior Ministry told the website. “It consisted of a gas-cylinder with a capacity of 27 liters, four bags with a mixture of ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder, a five-liter plastic canister of kerosene and a demolition cord.” KBR Interior Minister Yury Tomchak told a meeting of the ministry’s public council on February 26 that 53 members of “illegal armed formations” are wanted by the republican authorities, Interfax reported. “Until recently the law-enforcement bodies were searching for 42 NFV [illegal armed formation] members, 14 of whom are on the federal wanted list and 10 who are on the international wanted list,” Tomchak said. He added that the republic’s Interior Ministry, with the assistance of the republican branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) and the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office, have put another 11 members of “illegal armed formations” on the republic’s wanted list over the last two weeks.

The republic’s law-enforcement bodies are facing “a well-organized, trained and deeply clandestine underground, whose members undergo training in camps of the militants on the territory of the North Caucasus region, and even in KBR,” Tomchak said. “The effectiveness of the fight against extremism depends on resolving the task of blocking the channels of financing for the NVFs.”

According to Kavkazky Uzel, 12 people, including Anzor Astemirov (aka Amir Seifullah), leader of the Kabardino-Balkaria Jamaat and the rebel Caucasus Front’s Kabardino-Balkarian sector, are wanted in connection with last November’s murder of nine forest rangers and hunters (Chechnya Weekly, November 8 and 21, 2007). Citing the Interior Ministry, the website reported that the 12 wanted men were also involved in the murder of the head of Kabardino-Balkaria’s regional anti-organized crime directorate, Colonel Anatoly Kyarov, in Nalchik last month (see Eurasia Daily Monitor, January 14). Kyarov was in charge of a special unit that targeted Astemirov (Chechnya Weekly, January 17.) Kavkazky Uzel reported that forensic testing had established that the forest rangers and hunters and Kyarov were all shot from the same automatic rifle.

Meanwhile, Kavkazky Uzel reported on February 21 that Magomed Abubakarov, a member of the Chechen Republic’s collegium of lawyers who is defending Rasul Kudaev, the KBR resident who was held in the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and subsequently arrested for allegedly participating in the October 2005 rebel raid on Nalchik, appealed the KBR prosecutor’s office on February 21 concerning the detention of Kudaev’s mother, Fatima Tekaeva, and his brother, Arsen Mokaev. Abubakarov said in his appeal that Fatima Tekaeva was illegally detained while on her way to work on February 14 by several policemen wearing masks, who then took her to the headquarters of Center ‘T’. The lawyer said that police seized from her home material related to the criminal case against Rasul Kudaev, including evidence proving his innocence and documents about his medical problems in the Nalchik pretrial detention center where he remains incarcerated. Tekaeva herself said that during her six-hour detention she was questioned about the murder of the forest rangers and hunters and the murder of Kyarov, as well as about events in Chechnya and Ingushetia. She said her son Arsen Mokaev, who was detained that same day, was beaten while in detention.

On January 16, Amnesty International issued an “Urgent Action” appeal concerning Rasul Kudaev. It noted, among other things, that prison authorities were finally allowing Kudaev, who reportedly has a liver condition, to receive “limited medical treatment” after months of refusing to pass on to him medication his mother was bringing while visiting him in prison.

Amnesty International noted that it has been campaigning since 2005 on behalf of Kudaev, who was allegedly tortured following his October 2005 arrest on suspicion of involvement in the armed attack on Nalchik. “The organization has seen photographs of him, reportedly taken in detention shortly after the alleged torture, spoken to eyewitnesses and reviewed medical records that appear to support the allegations of torture,” the human rights group wrote. “Since October 2005, Rasul Kudaev’s lawyers have repeatedly tried, without success, to get the local prosecutor’s office to open an investigation into these allegations of torture. A number of the other 59 defendants, charged with involvement in the attack, allege they were also tortured and ill-treated in order to extract their ‘confessions’.” Preliminary hearings against the 59 defendants began last October.