Militant Leaders Reportedly Killed in Kabardino-Balkaria and Dagestan

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 16

Citing the public relations center of the Federal Security Service (FSB), Itar-Tass reported on April 24 that the “leader of a local gang” in Kabardino-Balkaria, Zeitun Sultanov, had been killed along with an accomplice during a joint special operation conducted by the FSB and the interior ministry. According to the FSB, the special operation was conducted in the village of Khasanya, near Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital, Nalchik, and targeted both Sultanov, who was allegedly involved in a series of terrorist acts in Kabardino-Balkaria, and his accomplice, Alim Boziev. They offered armed resistance and “were destroyed in a shootout,” the FSB said.

According to the FSB, Sultanov had been a member of the Yarmuk “terrorist formation” since 2002 and maintained “close contacts” with the late rebel field commanders Shamil Basaev and Khattab. “In 2005, he formed his own gang engaged in committing murders of law enforcers and acts of terrorism in Kabardino-Balkaria,” the FSB said of Sultanov, adding that after the “gang leader” Rustam Mameyev was killed in Khasanya in October 2008, Sultanov took over coordinating the activities of “terrorist groups” in “a considerable part of the territory of Kabardino-Balkaria” and maintained contacts with “gang leaders” in Ingushetia, Chechnya, Dagestan, North Ossetia and Karachaevo-Cherkessia. The FSB also claimed that “emissaries of international terrorist organizations” assisted Sultanov and “regularly received video reports on the activity of gangs from him.”

The FSB also alleged that Sultanov and his “gang” committed a number of serious crimes over the period 2006-2008, including the murders of the chief of police of Kabardino-Balkaria’s Chereksky district, Colonel Mustafa Konakov (Chechnya Weekly, September 15, 2006), and the head of Kabardino-Balkaria’s regional anti-organized crime directorate Colonel Anatoly Kyarov and his driver, Lieutenant Albert Rakhaev (Eurasia Daily Monitor, January 14, 2008). According to the FSB, they also organized the murder of nine hunters and forest rangers near the village of Lechinkai in 2007 (Chechnya Weekly, November 8 and 21, 2007) and planned and carried out more than 20 armed attacks on interior troops officers on the outskirts of the village of Khasanya.

RIA Novosti reported on April 23 that two people were killed when a car exploded in Nalchik. According to Kabardino-Balkaria’s emergency services, the car blew up in a village not far from Nalchik and two dead bodies were discovered in the vehicle after the subsequent blaze had been extinguished. The cause of the blast and the identities of the two victims have yet to be determined, RIA Novosti reported.

Meanwhile, RIA Novosti reported on April 24 that police in Dagestan shot dead a militant group leader suspected of numerous attacks on law enforcement officers. A police spokesman told the news agency that Zakir Navruzov, who was on the federal wanted list, was surrounded by police in a house in the town of Derbent, and that he opened fire when ordered to surrender. According to the police spokesman, Navruzov was killed in the return fire, and none of the police officers were wounded.

RIA Novosti noted that the report of Navruzov’s death was the second in seven months, with police having claimed to have killed him last September. The news agency also reported that Navruzov was known to have been an accomplice of Ilgar Malachiev, the Dagestani insurgent leader killed in a clash with security forces last September (North Caucasus Weekly, September 19, 2008).

Also on April 24, an officer from the police department of Makhachkala’s Kirov district was murdered, Itar-Tass reported. “The body of the policeman with a bullet wound in the head was found on the territory of a service center” in the capital late on April 23, the Dagestani Interior Ministry’s press service told the news agency. Also late on April 23, police in Makhachkala stopped a car for a document check, after which the driver got out of the car and ran away. While searching the vehicle, police found two submachine-guns, an F-1 grenade, five submachine-gun magazines and 150 5.45 mm cartridges. A search for the car’s owner was underway, Itar-Tass reported.

Former Russian Interior Minister Anatoly Kulikov said earlier this month that the number of militant attacks on law enforcement personnel and civilians in Dagestan increased by 40 percent in 2008 in comparison with 2007.