Russian media on June 28 reported that Magomed Evloev, an ethnic Ingush whom federal authorities claim led the June 21-22 attacks in Ingushetia, was killed during a special operation in the village of Dalakovo, near Nazran. Ren TV on June 28 aired footage of what officials said was Evolev’s body, with a pistol on his belt and a Kalashnikov lying nearby. The body, however, was face down. Kommersant quoted a top official in Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry as saying that the Magomed Evloev who was killed was not the Magomed Evloev who is known by the nom de guerre “Magas” and is a direct subordinate of Chechen separatist field commander Shamil Basayev. “I personally knew the dead man Magomed Evloev from my time working as a police officer in the district,” the official said. “He was indeed a ‘crime boss’ and a dangerous criminal, but he certainly could not have led the gunmen who attacked Nazran and Karabulak. That was out of his league.”
Citing Interior Ministry information, Kommersant reported that the Evloev who was killed by security forces once worked as a bodyguard for one of Ingushetia’s interior ministers and later joined a crime gang. The newspaper called the announcement of Magomed Evloev’s death a “PR stunt” that was “obviously” timed to coincide with a Duma Security Committee hearing about events in Ingushetia and a meeting in which President Putin reprimanded his security ministers. As such, it was “a flop,” Kommersant concluded.
Responding to the Kommersant report, Major-General Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the Russian forces in Chechnya, insisted that the man killed by security forces was behind the Ingushetia raid (NTV, June 29). Shabalkin also claimed that federal forces have killed more than 40 rebels since the June 21-22 raids, with 15 killed by Federal Security Service (FSB) units in downtown Nazran alone. These actions have prevented the rebels from accomplishing “the tasks set by Shamil Basayev and Aslan Maskhadov,” he said, adding that the local population in Ingushetia has been “playing an active role in providing information” about the June 21-22 raid’s participants (Interfax, June 29).
In sharp contrast to Shabalkin’s claims of post-raid successes, Musa Ozdoyev, a member of Ingushetia’s republican parliament, described Ingushetia as a place characterized by a “total vacuum of power” and “total anarchy.” In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio, Ozdoyev said Ingushetian President Murat Zyazikov’s administration has no popular support because of large-scale corruption and the activities of “death squads” connected to the republic’s security forces. “If the population had supported the government, I am certain that at the very least this outrage would not have happened in the republic,” Ozodyev said, referring to the June 21-22 raid. He called for Zyazikov’s removal and direct Kremlin rule over Ingushetia (Ekho Moskvy, June 29).
Meanwhile, the pro-Chechen rebel Kavkazcenter website published a press release by the “Information Center of the Joint Command of the Mujahideen of Ingushetia” concerning “the results of the military operation on the territory of Ingushetia on 21-22 June 2004.” It listed all the installations it said were attacked in the raid and put the total number of federal and republican troops, police and FSB officers, and government officials killed at 147, with 15 taken prisoner. (Itar-Tass, meanwhile, quoted an Ingushetian government source on June 29 as saying that 88 people were killed in the raid, not 97, as earlier reported by government sources.) The rebel press release said the operation demonstrated “the force of the Muslim Ummah and the help of Almighty Allah” as well as the “high professionalism and military preparedness of both ordinary mujahideen and command personnel at all levels” (Kavkazcenter.com, June 29).