Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 18

Russian news agencies reported on May 9 that rebel forces had planned that day to attack Tsentoroi, the home village of Chechen Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov, but were hit preemptively by Chechen security forces near the village of Alleroi. Interfax quoted Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Alkhanov as saying that ministry special forces killed eight of the attackers while two ministry servicemen were wounded in battled. The news agency quoted Chechen State Council Chairman Taus Dzhabrailov as saying that the rebels had wanted to replicate “the events that took place at Grozny’s Dinamo stadium on 9 May 2004” – a reference to the bombing that killed Akhmad Kadyrov, the republic’s president and father of Ramzan – and “had been instructed to penetrate the village and stage terrorist attacks against the Chechen Republic’s top officials, including the president, the chairman of the government, the head of the state council and others,” on the assumption that they would be in Tsentoroi to pay tribute to the elder Kadyrov. “The leadership of the Chechen Interior Ministry managed to thwart these plans by means of staging a pre-emptive strike and eliminating the militants’ main group,” Dzhabrailov said, adding that law-enforcement officers who participated in the operation would be decorated. “I am confident that they deserve the highest awards and hope that the country’s leadership will take our opinion into consideration,” Dzhabrailov said.

The separatist Kavkazcenter website had a far different version of events, reporting on May 9 that a unit of rebel fighters that morning had “unexpectedly attacked the village of Khosi-Yurt (Tsentoroi), where the ringleader of the collaborationists Kadyrov lives.” The website claimed that rebel fighters destroyed checkpoints and fired on the kadyrovtsy for three hours, killing 8-15 and wounding a “large number.” According to Kavkazcenter, the rebel forces scattered after Kadyrov’s forces called on federal ground and air forces for assistance.

In any case, Roman Edilov, head of the Interior Ministry directorate in Chechnya’s Kurchaloi district, said on May 10 that a special operation was underway in the Kurchaloi and Nozhai-Yurt districts to search for the remaining militants from the group destroyed on May 9. The rebel fighters, he said, belonged to the group headed by Akhmed Avdorkhanov and Rappani Khalilov, adding that “among the militants killed whose bodies are being identified, about four without any doubt are citizens of Dagestan: their faces show it.” Idris Gaibov, head of the Kurchaloi district administration, told Interfax: “Militants are definitely being trained in Dagestan and from there they attack settlements in Chechnya. Nobody wants to recognize that they have taken root there and from there they attack Chechnya.” Gaibov said the bodies of the eight rebels killed on May 9 should be transferred to Khasavyurt or Makhachkala for identification.

Kommersant on May 11 quoted the head of the Dagestani Interior Ministry’s press service, Abdulla Musaev, as saying: “I don’t understand how it is possible to tell from outward appearances whether they are Chechens or Dagestanis.” The newspaper quoted unnamed Dagestani Interior Ministry officials as charging that units of rebels who were earlier declared dead by Chechen law-enforcement bodies have been carrying out attacks on Dagestani Interior Ministry personnel along the border between the two republics. The attempt to blame Dagestani rebels for attacks on Chechnya is part of an attempt of “certain Chechen politicians to take a kind of revenge on us,” these officials said. He was apparently referring to the January incident in which Ramzan Kadyrov led armed men into Dagestan to free his sister, who had been detained by police in Khasavyurt. In a sign of growing bad blood between the two republics’ governments, Kadyrov recently charged that Shamil Basaev is hiding in Dagestan.

Meanwhile, reported on May 9 that a memorial service was held in Grozny for Akhmad Kadyrov. The website quoted Ramzan Kadyrov as charging once again that rebel warlord Shamil Basaev ordered his father’s murder and promising to deal with Basaev according to the dictates of the blood feud.