Publication: Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 197

The so-called “mine war” continues to rage in Chechnya. On October 21, microbus was blown up in the town of Gudermes, injuring two people. Over the weekend, mines or bombs killed three Chechen villagers. The Russian military, meanwhile, is continuing to carry out operations to defuse bombs, and have been seizing caches of guns and ammunition around the republic (Radio Liberty, October 22).

The Chechen rebels have begun conducting terrorist operations not only against Russian servicemen, but also against local inhabitants loyal to the Russian authorities. On October 20 in the town of Urus-Martan, local merchants in the town’s market reported to a police patrol that suspicious people had been fooling around with the drainage ditches near the sales stalls. Upon inspection, the police discovered a polyethylene package containing a homemade explosive device. On October 12, fifteen people died when a car-bomb went off near a police administrative building in Djohar [Grozny], the Chechen capital, where Russian passports were being given to local inhabitants (Russian agencies, October 20; see also the Monitor, October 13).

Meanwhile, Akhmad Kadyrov, the head of Chechnya’s temporary administration, has announced that by November 1, all ministries and agencies belonging to the republic’s government will be moved from Gudermes to Djohar. Kadyrov warned that if the move were not carried out, the individual official responsible for moving his ministry or agency would be immediately fired (ORT, October 20).

Many analysts had assumed that Gudermes, Chechnya’s temporary administrative center, would become its permanent capital. Some also held the view that the Russian forces had deliberately blown Djohar off the face of the earth because it had become a symbol of Chechen resistance. Yet despite Kadyrov’s latest announcement, it is not completely clear how the republican authorities will be able to function in Djohar, which indeed lies in ruins. As the Monitor’s correspondent can attest to, not one multistory building in the city remains whole. On the edges of the city there are a small number of intact private one-story houses. It is worth noting that Kadyrov himself does not plan to move to Djohar himself anytime soon, saying that his own offices are not yet ready (ORT, October 20).