Nurgaliev: North Caucasus Violence Challenges the Authorities

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 6 Issue: 123

Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev

According to Kavkazsky Uzel, the number of terrorist acts, murders of law enforcement personnel and kidnappings has grown significantly in Chechnya since April 16, the day the federal authorities formally announced an end to the decade-long counter-terrorist operation in the republic. The website came to that conclusion in a report published yesterday, which it said was based on data from its own archives and other open sources. Meanwhile, Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev has warned that recent high-profile rebel attacks in the North Caucasus pose a serious challenge to the authorities.

Kavkazsky Uzel noted that on April 20, just four days after the end of the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya was announced, a new counter-terrorist operation regime was imposed in Chechnya’s Itum-Kale and Vedeno districts. According to the website, on April 23, this regime was extended to Shatoi district and four towns and villages in Shali district – Serzhen-Yurt, Shali, Chiri-Yurt and Novye Atagi. While the regime was lifted in the four towns and villages on April 27, a counter-terrorist operation regime remains in place to this day in the Vedeno, Shatoi and Itum-Kale districts.

In the 70 days before the counter-terrorism operation in Chechnya was formally ended, there were at least four kidnappings in the republic, with two of those kidnapped subsequently found dead. In addition, one civilian was killed and five were wounded. Since April 16, at last eleven civilians have been kidnapped and at least six civilians have died as a result of shootouts or bombings. In the 70 days before April 16, there were at least 14 special operations conducted by security forces and shootouts with rebels, during which six security personnel were killed and at least 17 wounded. During that same period, six members of "illegal armed formations" were killed, at least 27 were captured and another six surrendered, while 26 rebel accomplices were also captured.

Since the counter-terrorism operation formally ended on April 16, there have been at least 25 special operations conducted by security forces and shootouts with rebels, during which at least 15 security personnel were killed and 30 wounded. In addition, at least 26 suspected militants were killed, at least 30 captured and three surrendered, while 12 suspected rebel accomplices were captured.

In the 70 days prior to the end of the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya, six improvised explosive device blasts were reported, while three such bombings were prevented. Since April 16, there have been 16 such bombings, including the May 15 suicide bombing in Grozny that killed two policemen. That was the first suicide bombing in Chechnya since August 30, 2008, when a suicide bomber struck a base of the Yug special operations battalion in Vedeno, killing one serviceman and wounding 11.

Kavkazsky Uzel noted that following the May 15 bombing, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov vowed there would be no more amnesties for rebels and warned the parents of rebels that they would also bear responsibility for their sons’ actions. On May 16, Kadyrov and Ingushetia’s president, Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, agreed to carry out joint counter-insurgency operations. On June 22, Yevkurov was severely wounded in a suicide bombing targeting his motorcade in Nazran.

Kavkazsky Uzel quoted the Memorial human rights group as saying that while the Chechen authorities have increased pressure on the republic’s youth since the federal authorities ended the counter-terrorist operation in Chechnya on April 16, that has had a boomerang effect, with a growing number of young people abused by the Chechen siloviki joining the ranks of the rebels (, June 25).

Meanwhile, insurgent violence in Chechnya, Ingushetia and other republics of the North Caucasus shows no sign of letting up. A serviceman from the Chechen-manned Sever special operations battalion of the federal interior ministry was severely wounded by a bomb blast on June 23 during a joint operation with servicemen from Ingushetia’s interior ministry on the outskirts of the village of Dattykh in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district (, June 25). Also on June 23, two people were killed and six wounded, including five law enforcement officers, in two roadside bomb blasts in Chechnya’s Achkhoi-Martan district. One of the bombs hit a car carrying local residents in a wooded area several kilometers from the village of Shalazhi in the republic’s Grozny district, killing two. The other bomb hit a car carrying Urus-Martan district police officers, wounding five of them (, June 24).

Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev told a meeting of officials of Dagestan’s interior ministry in Makhachkala on June 25 that the attack on Yevkurov and the murder of Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov earlier this month demand a tough response. "These terrorist acts are a direct and open challenge to the authorities – which means to us, the law enforcement bodies," he said. "And we will respond: we will respond severely, in compliance with the law … Only then will the citizens of Russia be able to feel safe."

Nurgaliev said the rebel underground in the North Caucasus is ratcheting up its armed resistance and targeting state officials and law enforcement personnel, as well as clergy and ordinary civilians. He said that the rebels in the North Caucasus are unable to carry out large-scale military operations and therefore are focusing on "sabotage-terrorist" actions. Rebel leaders, supported by international terrorist and extremist organizations, continue to have the goal of creating "a so-called Caucasus imamate," Nurgaliev said (, June 25).