Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 15

A shootout between security forces and suspected militants in Nazran, Ingushetia on April 11 left one officer and two rebels dead, the Associated Press reported. A spokesman for the federal Interior Ministry’s branch in Southern Federal District, Roman Shchekotin, said that two other officers were hospitalized in grave condition and a third suspected rebel was wounded. He identified the two dead suspected militants as brothers Umar and Magomed Barchishvili, residents of Ingushetia, who were wanted for involvement in several attacks. The third gunman, named as Ali Gazgireyev, was under guard in a hospital, Shchekotin said. He said that ammunition and automatic weapons were discovered in the house where the militants had been hiding out.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on April 11 that the operation against the militants was carried out by staff of the Federal Security Service (FSB) branch in Ingushetia together with a federal Interior Minstry mobile unit. One member of the Interior Ministry mobile unit was killed and two were seriously wounded. Radio Liberty reported on April 12 that one of the two wounded Interior Ministry officers had died in the hospital.

According to the website, the owner of the home in which the militants were hiding, Khusen Gazgireyev, was also injured in the shootout. A source in the public affairs department of the Ingushetian FSB said that Umar and Magomed Barchishvili—known as “Saat” and “Gaga,” respectively—were members of the group headed by Abu Dzeit, the Saudi “mercenary” (he has elsewhere been described as a Kuwaiti national) and alleged al-Qaeda representative who was reportedly killed in February 2005 (see Chechnya Weekly, February 23, 2005). The Barchishvili brothers allegedly took part in the June 21-22, 2004 attacks on Ingushetian law enforcement organs. According to the FSB, the brothers are also suspected of carrying out numerous attacks on law enforcement personnel and shooting up the homes of ethnic Russian families who had returned to Ingushetia.

Itar-Tass on April 11 quoted an Ingushetian Interior Ministry source as saying that the group to which the three dead militants belonged had murdered the prominent Ingushetian religious figure Maksharip Belkhoroev in 2005 (see Chechnya Weekly, September 29, 2005) and was also responsible for murdering law enforcement officers in Ingushetia’s Sunzhensky district.

The latest violence in Ingushetia followed a government reshuffle. On April 6, the republic’s president, Murat Zyazikov, issued a decree liquidating the Ingushetian Security Council—a move aimed, as the decree, at “optimizing the work of the bodies of state power in the republic and cutting the expenses on the upkeep of the members of the administrative office of the government of the Republic of Ingushetia.” Itar-Tass reported on April 6 that Zyazikov also issued a decree naming the head of the liquidated Security Council, Bashir Aushev, as deputy chairman of the republic’s government with responsibility for issues relating to security and for coordinating the work of Ingushetia’s law enforcement bodies and their interaction with military units deployed in the republic.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court of Ingushetia found two residents of Kabardino-Balkaria guilty of various crimes connected with the attack on Ingush law enforcement agencies on June 21-22, 2004, the Caucasus Times reported. The court found Dmitry Kurichev guilty of banditry, terrorism, attempted murder of policemen and illegal possession of arms and ammunition and sentenced him to 10 years in prison. The court found Rustam Kurozokov guilty of banditry and illegal possession of arms and ammunition and sentenced him to nine years in prison. The state prosecutor had requested 15 and 11 years in prison for Kurichev and Kurozokov, respectively, but took into account the fact that Kurichev had helped the investigation establish the identities of other attackers on the police. According to the Caucasus Times, Kurichev was involved in the attack on the Ingush Interior Ministry while Kurozokov took part in an attack on a Nazran border unit.