Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 153

Yesterday, August 6, was a particularly tense day for the Russian military forces in Chechnya, given that it marked independence day for the Chechen rebel forces. The rebels did not pick the day at random: On August 6, 1996, rebel forces seized Djohar [Grozny], the Chechen capital, effectively marking the Kremlin’s defeat in its 1994-1996 Chechen military campaign. The Russian military had warned that the rebels were planning a series of terrorist acts to mark the anniversary, but the rebels forces themselves denied they were planning to carry out acts of sabotage to mark the day (Russian agencies,, August 6). In fact, the anniversary passed without a large-scale rebel offensive or an attempt to seize the Chechen capital. Nonetheless, there were a series of terrorist acts yesterday, most of them in neighboring North Caucasian republics. A car bomb was detonated in the Dagestani city of Khasavyurt, killing two and wounding three. The explosion took place around one in the afternoon, Moscow time, and left a crater around two meters wide and a meter and a half deep. Bomb experts believe the bomb was placed in a Moskvich 21-41 automobile. The bomb was so powerful that it was heard four kilometers away. Some forty minutes before that blast, another bomb was detonated along the railway line between Khasavyurt and Batash. Another two bombs were discovered along the railway line a bit later (Russian agencies, August 6). The fact that these bombings took place where they did is not surprising. More than 50,000 people of Chechen extraction live in Dagestan’s Khasavyurt region, and a majority of them support the Chechen separatists.

Meanwhile, residents of the village of Arshty, in the Suzhensk region of Ingushetia, claimed yesterday that two Russian helicopters attacked their village, killing two and wounding three. According to media reports, a Russian reconnaissance unit near the village at the time confirmed that two helicopters, apparently Mi-8s, had shot at the western part of the village. Earlier in the day, there had been reports that Russian helicopters had been fired on from the village. The Russian military headquarters in the North Caucasus denied that helicopters had attacked the village. Ingushetian Deputy Interior Minister Isa Gireev, however, said that fragments from exploded shells were found at the site of the incident. In the meantime, a bomb exploded last night in the center of the town of Kurskaya, located in Stavropol krai along the border with Chechnya. The explosion, which took place several hundred meters from the local Interior Ministry branch, wounded four people (Russian agencies, August 7).

There were also incidents yesterday in Chechnya itself. Federal artillery destroyed several dozen rebel fighters in the woods near the village of Petropavloskoe, northeast of the Chechen capital. In the capital itself, eight soldiers from the Moscow OMON special police force were slightly wounded by exploding mines (Russian agencies, August 6).