The Moscow daily Nezavisimaya gazeta, usually skeptical of the official line on Chechnya, accused rebel guerrillas of assassinating mayors and other local district heads in an article published on December 17. On the previous day rebels had killed Nurdi Elmurzaev, mayor of the village of Alkhan-Kala near Grozny, after ambushing his car, the newspaper reported. It also pointed out that the mayor of Shali had been killed in October and that of Chechen-Aul in September.
The newspaper suggested that the “increasing frequency” of such assassinations in recent months is yet another proof that the Kadyrov administration’s much-ballyhooed “amnesty” of guerrillas has failed. It also noted that during last fall’s election campaign Kadyrov’s circle had spoken promisingly about negotiations with guerrilla leader Ruslan Gelaev–but that since then, the administration has failed to produce any concrete results.