On January 25, just a day before the riot police clashed with demonstrators in Nazran, the Ingushetia branch of the Federal Security Service (FSB) declared several areas inside the republic a “counter-terrorist operation zone.” Prague Watchdog reported on January 25 that the cities of Nazran and Magas, the village of Barsuki and the environs of the village of Nesterovskaya were included in the “counter-terrorist operation zone.”
As Russia Profile reported on January 25, declaring an area a “counter-terrorist operation zone” gives police and FSB agents the legal right to search people and vehicles entering that area or prevent them from entering it, and to enter people’s homes. The FSB said it took the decision to designate the “counter-terrorist operation zone” because it had received information about planned bombings and plans by the “gangster underground” to organize “attacks against administrative buildings” and provoke clashes with police. However, the fact that the planned site for the January 26 demonstration was included in the “counter-terrorist operation zone” suggests the real motive for the move was to foil the protest.
Meanwhile, security forces in Ingushetia’s Nazran district killed two local residents during a “counter-terrorist operation” on January 30, Kavkazky Uzel reported. The website quoted a source in the republican prosecutor’s office as identifying those killed as Ramzan Nalgiev and Dzhabrail Mutsolgov. According to the source, both were wanted members of “illegal gang formations” who had participated in a series of “sabotage-terrorist acts” in the republic.
However, Kavkazky Uzel correspondent Malik Suleimanov quoted relatives of the two as saying they had nothing to do with “illegal armed formations” or terrorist acts. “I have absolutely no idea why they were killed,” a relative of Mutsolgov said. “Dzhabrail mostly lived outside the republic of late, doing business, and came home only last Friday for his older brother’s wedding. He could not have had any ties either to militants or to terrorist acts. It’s some kind of mistake.” The relative said that soldiers had opened fire—without warning—on the car that the two were driving in near a gas station in the village of Surkhakhi and, after firing for 20-30 minutes, removed their bodies from the car, which they then set on fire.
In a separate incident on the evening of January 30, unknown assailants in a VAZ car fired on a police post located at the intersection of the Nazran-Ekazhevo road and the Kavkaz federal highway, also in Ingushetia’s Nazran district. The attack wounded two policemen, one of whom later died.