Gen.-Major Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the Russian military operation in the North Caucasus, told Interfax on April 25 that Bukhari Gumkiev, mufti of a mosque in the village of Shelkovskaya, was murdered. According to Shabalkin, the preliminary results of an investigation into the incident indicated that the 66-year-old imam was murdered after refusing to allow separatist fighters to spend the night in his mosque. RIA Novosti quoted unnamed eyewitnesses as saying that the rebels openly threatened the mufti.
Lenta.ru reported on April 25 that there have been other reports of “extremists killing Chechen civilians who refuse to help them.” The website specifically cited a report that a fighter loyal to rebel field commander Magomed Baisultanov who was captured on April 17 had shot a resident of the village of Achkoi-Martan to death in order to intimidate other villagers (see Chechnya Weekly, April 20).
In late March the pro-rebel daymohk.info and marsho.dk websites reported that leaflets had been circulated in Chechnya in which the rebel military command warned “of the inadmissibility of collaboration with the Russian occupiers.” “Our source reports that in the run-up to the beginning of active military actions, the Chechen [rebel] military command considered it its duty to once again inform people serving the Russian occupiers that measures will be taken against them in line with wartime laws,” daymohk.info reported on March 31. According to the websites, the rebel leaflets warned Chechens working for the republic’s pro-Moscow authorities that only by quitting their jobs could they “hope for our leniency.”