North Ossetia’s Anti-Organized Crime Chief Assassinated

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 10

The head of North Ossetia’s anti-organized crime unit (UBOP, formerly known as RUBOP), Mark Metsaev, was killed in the republican capital Vladikavkaz on March 7. Agence France-Presse reported that Metsaev “died in a hail of automatic gunfire following a minor car accident that appeared to have been part of the assassination plan.” Interfax on March 8 quoted North Ossetian Deputy Interior Minister Soslan Sikoev as saying that a car rammed the police jeep Metsaev was traveling in and that the jeep was then fired on from two different directions. Itar-Tass quoted Sikoev as saying that Metsaev’s murder was “a carefully planned act.”

The “Kataib al-Khoul” Ossetian Jamaat claimed responsibility for the killing of Mark Metsaev in a statement posted on the rebel Kavkaz-Center website on March 8. The statement, which was signed by the jamaat’s deputy amir, Khuzeifoi (who was further identified as being located in “Vilayat Iriston, Caucasus Emirate”), called Metsaev an “enemy of Allah” and said he had earlier been warned that “we know about his orders for sadistic torture, which is endured by those caught in RUBOP torture chambers, and his personal participation in it.” The statement also claimed that “young mujahideen from one of the jamaats operating on the territory of the Mozdok district of Iriston [North Ossetia] and the territory of Kabarda and Balkaria” who were wounded in a battle earlier this year and taken prisoner were being tortured by “satans in human form from RUBOP and the FSB.” The statement provided details of the operation in which Metsaev was murdered.

Some observers have noted similarities between Metsaev’s assassination and the murder of Anatoly Kyarov, who was the UBOP chief in Kabardino-Balkaria and headed a special unit that targeted the leader of the Kabardino-Balkarian section of the Caucasus rebel front Anzor Astemirov (aka Seifullah) (Chechnya Weekly, January 17).

Meanwhile, a police post on the outskirts of the village of Khasanya, which is located in the suburbs of Kabardino-Balkaria’s capital Nalchik, came under fire from unidentified gunmen on March 10. According to Kavkazky Uzel, the gunfire came from several different directions and the police operating the post returned fire. While none of the policemen was injured in the incident, several civilians were hit by gunfire. One of the victims—identified as Aslan Tokumaev, a 26-year-old Khasanya resident—died in the hospital on March 12.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 13 that Khasanya residents had written the village’s administration asking it to intercede with authorities to get the police post on the village’s outskirts moved because it is a target of attacks by militants and thus endangers local residents. One resident said the police post has come under attack three times just in the last half year alone.