Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 25

The Memorial human rights group reconstructed what happened on June 4 in a report that was posted on the Prava cheloveka v Rossii (Human Rights in Russia) website,, on June 22. In sum, the report describes what appears to have been an act of revenge operation by the Vostok (East) special forces battalion, which is headed by Sulim Yamadaev, attached to the 42nd Motorized Infantry Division and subordinated to the Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) of the Russian armed forces’ General Staff. The Vostok battalion may have held the village responsible for the murder of a forester whose son serves in the battalion.

According to Memorial, there were no reports of “unlawful” acts in Borozdinovskaya before mid-2005. During May and June, however, there were press reports of “a series of murders and armed attacks” in and around the village. The bullet-riddled body of Khanmukhamad Talkhanov was found in his burned-out car on the road between the villages of Grebenskaya and Voskresenovskaya. The same group of unknown attackers is believed to have broken into the Borozdinovskaya home of forester Tagir Akhmatov, whose son serves in the Vostok battalion, and shot him to death. They also are said to have attacked the home of Borozdinovskaya administration chief Sultan Bashirov, severely wounding a police bodyguard, Sultan Khesimkhanov, and stealing Bashirov’s Kalashnikov, pistol and official ID. Those two incidents apparently took place on June 1 or June 2.

Memorial reported that personnel from the Vostok battalion arrived in Borozdinovskaya on the afternoon of June 4 in two armored personnel carriers and more than a dozen civilian vehicles of various kinds, after which armed people in gray police and camouflage uniforms forced male occupants out of their homes into the vehicles, took them to the local school and ordered them to lie face down outside with their shirts pulled over their heads. The security forces beat all of them, including elderly people, teenagers and invalids, kicking them and hitting them with the butts of their rifles, the report stated. The detainees were kept on the ground face down in heavy rain for several hours. “From the words of the power structure members it was understood that they [the detainees] were being accused of the death of forester Tagir Akhmatov and the attack on village administration head Sultan Bashirov, which took place two days before the described events.” The raiders then took away eleven of the detained males. The rest were herded into the school’s gymnasium, where, according to the report, their captors beat them with clubs and walked on their backs before leaving. Several cars belonging to locals were also apparently stolen.

Some of the raiders reportedly set fire to two houses located next to each other on Borozdinovskaya’s Ulitsa Lenina and owned by Magomedov Nazirbek and his son Said. The spetsnaz reportedly initially did not allow Said’s wife and children, who had been hiding, to leave one of the houses, and then “roughly” forced them out. The raiders reportedly prevented them and other local residents from trying to put out the fire by shooting around their feet and over their heads. On the other side of the village, military personnel surrounded the home of 77-year-old Magomaz Magomazov and then burst inside, shooting at the feet and over the head of his wife in the courtyard and also forcing his daughter out of the house. The women then heard shots fired from guns and rocket-propelled grenades, after which the house burst into flames. No one was allowed to try and extinguish the fire. “After the military personnel left and the fire went out, neighbors found scorched human bones on a pile of burnt hair,” Memorial reported. “They could have belonged only to M. Magamazov.”

“None of those who carried out the ‘special operation’ identified themselves, but residents recognized members of a sub-unit of a certain Khamzat, nicknamed ‘Boroda’ [the Beard], who serves in the Vostok battalion,” the report noted. “In addition, Khamzat is a leader of the local chapter of the United Russia party. Some of the military personnel were in masks.” According to Memorial, on June 14, local inhabitants found charred human bones in one of the homes belonging to Nazirbek Magomedov, which police who were called to the scene took away in four large plastic bags. “The assembled inhabitants were outraged,” the group stated in its report. “In response, police beat two men and took them away. After this, police personnel pointedly drove around the streets of the village firing randomly. Woman and children cried out in fear. After this, a majority of the Avars decided to leave Borozdinovskaya and move to Dagestan. On June 16, several tens of Avar families loaded up their cars with their things – furniture, home utensils – and set off for Dagestan. They even left behind their livestock. Many of the people did not find refuge in Kizlyar or nearby villages but simply stopped near the [Chechen-Dagestani administrative] border, covering their things with tents. They said they would not return to Chechen territory, where they live in atmosphere of constant fear.”

Indeed, the displaced people cited earlier violent attacks in a statement to local officials and human rights activists. On April 30, 2003, unknown people in masks abducted Borozdinovskaya resident Asludin Omarov. According to Memorial, other residents of the village were kidnapped for ransom, and in 2004, residents blocked the Kavkaz highway in protest. Following that demonstration, local police first arrested five residents, who were returned home beaten up after several days, and then another 25 residents, who were also severely beaten before being freed. On January 25 of this year, the brother of a person described by Memorial as the de facto leader of Borozdinovskaya’s Avars was kidnapped. His body was found in woods near the village eight days later bearing bullet wounds.