Interfax reported today (February 17) that five policemen were killed and six wounded yesterday during two shootouts with militants in Dagestan’s Kazbekovsky district along the republic’s administrative border with Chechnya. A law-enforcement source told the news agency that the Russian special operation in the area is being carried out under difficult conditions, given that there has been a large amount of snowfall in the area, which is mountainous. The source said that security forces have surrounded several groups of militants in the area and are attempting to prevent them from escaping, but that the militants are putting up strong resistance. The fighting in the area started on February 13, when security forces discovered a group of some seven militants in Chechnya’s Nozhai-Yurt district, and three policemen were killed and six wounded in the ensuing shootout. According to Russian security officials, the seven militants discovered in Nozhai-Yurt were led by field commander Magarbi Timeraliev. On February 15, four Russian Interior Ministry Internal troops were killed in fighting along the Chechen-Dagestani administrative border (www.interfax.ru, February 17; www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 15-17). The casualties reported from yesterday’s shootouts would bring the total number of security forces killed during three days of fighting in the area to 12.
Also in Dagestan yesterday (February 16), two alleged militants were killed by police in a special operation in the village of Mutsalaul in the republic’s Khasavyurt district. No security forces members were hurt in that operation (www.interfax.ru, February 16).
Dagestan’s rebels confirmed yesterday (February 16) that their leader, Ibragimkhalil Daudov, aka Emir Salikh, was killed earlier this week. A Russian law-enforcement source was reported as saying that Emir Salikh has been replaced by Sheikh Abdusalam, an ethnic Turk. Emir Salikh’s body was reportedly discovered on February 14 in a river near the village of Gurbuki in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkentsky district. On February 11, the militant leader escaped a special operation in Gurbuki in which his youngest son and three associates were killed. Daudov had succeeded Dagestani militant leader Israpil Validzhanov, who was killed in a special operation in the republic’s Levashinsky district last April. Before that, Daudov was in charge of the central sector of the Dagestani front of the Caucasus Emirate, headed by Doku Umarov (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 16). Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAK) claimed on February 15 that security forces in Gurbuki had discovered Daudov’s “archives,” including a videotaped appeal to militants to kill inhabitants of the village of Gubden. According to the NAK, Daudov was behind the twin suicide bombings in Gubden on February 14, 2011, which killed three people and wounded 26 (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, February 15).
One police commando was killed and another was wounded during the special operation in Gurbuki, which began on February 10 (www.rian.ru, February 10).
In Kabardino-Balkaria yesterday (February 16), a police commando was wounded during a special operation targeting alleged militants in the city of Nartkala. A republican law-enforcement source was quoted as saying that two rebels blockaded in a house in the city opened fire on security forces, wounding the commando. The source said that house was destroyed completely and that the two militants may have been killed, but that they could be hiding in the basement (www.newsru.com, February 17).
Meanwhile, in the latest in a series of controversial pronouncements, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov suggested that Chechen forces might at some point be needed to impose order in Moscow. In an interview with Komsomolskaya Pravda, Kadyrov dismissed as “stupidity” persistent rumors that Chechen police forces could be deployed to Moscow to use against anti-Putin demonstrators. “There are enough forces and means, law-enforcement structures, in Moscow for supporting order,” Kadyrov told the newspaper. “Why are we needed there?” The Chechen leader suggested the rumor was being spread deliberately to increase tensions. “It is a Western policy,” he said. “To arouse hatred between the peoples of Russia. And to begin to exploit this” (http://kp.ru/daily/25835/2808672/).
Still, Kadyrov did not rule out that Chechen forces could appear in the Russian capital under certain circumstances. “If there is an order, of course, the police will go there – staff of the MVD [Interior Ministry] of Chechnya,” he said. “They are directly subordinated to the MVD of Russia and are obligated to carry out orders. They will successfully carry out any assigned tasks.” Kadyrov added that “today this is not necessary” and expressed the hope that it would never be necessary.
In his interview, Kadyrov also said that Vladimir Putin should return for two more terms as Russian president (the presidential term was extended to six years in 2008). He also said that, if necessary, “150 percent” of Chechnya’s voters will cast their ballots for Putin. “If necessary, it will be 150 [percent], no problem,” Kadyrov told the newspaper, which described him as laughing. “For me, this is not a headache. We can vote openly. Like this.” According to Komsomolskaya Pravda, Kadyrov then raised his right arm (http://kp.ru/daily/25835/2808672/).