President Vladimir Putin on February 21 urged Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev to take tougher actions in the North Caucacus. Referring to an operation the previous day (February 20) in which commandos stormed an apartment in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria and killed three suspected Islamic militants who were holed up inside, Putin told Nurgaliev: “I’m counting on you tying up all the loose ends that could appear over the course of investigating this case. I hope that it will in general influence the situation in the regions positively.” Putin also expressed hope that the law-enforcement organs “will also work according to the same regime in the North Caucasus in the future.” “And be tougher with them,” he added, referring to the rebels.
Nurgaliev, for his part, told the president that operations similar to the one carried out in Nalchik are currently being conducted in Ingushetia and Dagestan. Speaking about the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria, Nurgaliev said that prior to the operation in Nalchik, investigators had discovered that the heads of the “Karachaevo-Cherkessia Jamaat were given the specific tasks of carrying out sabotage-terrorist acts in Russia.” Putin responded: “Don’t use their terminology – jamaat or whatever. Bandits are bandits.”