Militants and Police Official Killed in Dagestan as Ethnic Tensions Rise

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 5

Three militants were killed by security forces during a special operation in the village of Leninkent near Dagestan’s capital Makhachkala on February 5. Itar-Tass quoted Dagestani Deputy Interior Minister Magomed Gazimagomedov as identifying the three slain militants as Arslan Aldaev, Makhach Magomedov and Gadzhimurad Kamalutdinov—the latter being, according to Gazimagomedov, the nephew of “one of the ideologues of the Dagestani extremists who is living abroad.” Gazimagmedov said that the group headed by the wanted militant Omar Sheikhulaev had been responsible for about a dozen attempts on the lives of law-enforcement personnel.

The violence in Leninkent began when several militants armed with automatic rifles and pistols were blockaded in two homes in Leninkent, after which they hurled four grenades at the security forces who ordered them to surrender, slightly wounding two. The militants were killed in the ensuing shootout. The special operation was carried out by members of the Dagestani Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB) branch.

Five people, including a senior official and a policeman, were shot dead by gunmen in a roadside cafe in Dagestan on February 2. The German news agency DPA reported that the head of Dagestan’s Untsukulsky district, Kazimbe Akhmedov, his two bodyguards, a local police officer and the director of a care home were killed in the attack. Interfax quoted a Dagestani Interior Ministry spokesman as saying the victims were gunned down by two assailants dressed in camouflage and wearing masks. RIA Novosti cited a police source as saying that the group had gathered to celebrate the birthday of the local prosecutor, Omar Omarov, who had left the café by the time the attack took place. The owner of the café, called Vestrecha, was reportedly injured in the attack and hospitalized.

Meanwhile, the Moscow Times reported on February 3 that about 500 protesters in Makhachkala the previous day had blocked the entrance to the regional headquarters of the Federal Tax Service demanding that Dagestani President Mukhu Aliev ask officials in Moscow to recall the appointment of Vladimir Radchenko, a former tax chief in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, as Dagestan’s acting tax chief, and that Radchenko be replaced with an ethnic Lezgin. The English-language newspaper reported that the previous head of the republic’s tax service, who quit in November, was a Lezgin.

Citing Interfax, the Moscow Times reported that tax officials were unable to enter their offices and that protesters also blocked traffic along Makhachkala’s main thoroughfare where the offices are located. Meanwhile, Kommersant reported that Radchenko was stopped at the Dagestani border by regional police as he traveled by car from Rostov-on-Don and told that bombs had been planted at his new office and that they could not guarantee his safety there. Radchenko was thus forced to turn around. According to Kommersant, federal authorities had been trying for several months to negotiate Radchenko’s appointment, which Aliev’s administration opposed.

According to the Moscow Times, the Federal Tax Service said in a statement on February 2 that the demonstration in Makhachkala was a “provocation” and that it would push for criminal prosecution of the organizers.