Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 191

According to Russian military sources, federal positions in Chechnya have come under fire ten times over the last twenty-four hours. Unidentified attackers fired on a position held by a special police commando unit from St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast in the settlement of Starye Atagi, in Chechnya’s Djohar (Grozny) district. The commandos reportedly managed to kill two of the attackers in the ensuing fire-fight. Also in Starye Atagi, a car carrying policemen exploded when it hit a mine, after which unknown gunmen opened fire on it with automatic weapons and grenade launchers, killing one policeman and wounding several others (RIA Novosti, October 17).

Chechnya’s rebels have carried out several other such raids so far this week. On October 15, a rebel unit numbering up to forty fighters attacked a police station in Chechnya’s southern Vedeno region. The Interfax news agency quoted law enforcement officials as saying that the attackers overwhelmed the police officers who were in the building at the time of the attack and that the attackers managed to steal ten automatic weapons, five pistols and two machine guns. On the evening of October 15, another group of rebel fighters, numbering up to 100, attacked the town of Achkoi-Martan in western Chechnya. According to the head of Achkoi-Martan’s administration, Saidi Khachukaev, two local policemen were killed by gunfire while resisting the attack.

Meanwhile, the federal forces in Chechnya continued to carry out air strikes and rocket attacks on suspected rebel positions, using Su-24 and Su-25 jet aircraft, along with Mi-8, Mi-24 and Mi-26 helicopters. Military spokesmen claimed that the attacks destroyed a rebel training camp located two kilometers northeast of the village of Beshil-Irzoi along with two rebel munitions dumps. According to another military spokesman, Russian helicopters destroyed, among other things, a group of rebels preparing to ambush a federal troop column near the settlement of Engenoi, southwest of the capital (Interfax, October 16).

According to the newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta, the rebels continue to target religious leaders, officials of the republic’s pro-Moscow administration and civilians. The local imam of the village of Regita, in the Kurchaloi district, was shot to death along with an official of the local administration. The paper also claimed that seven residents of the capital’s Staropromyslov district were shot to death over just two days. The victims included several elderly people and an ethnic Russian. A 13-year-old girl was reportedly wounded in one of the attacks (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 17).

Amidst the continuing bloodletting in Chechnya and recent indications that there is little hope for a negotiated settlement to the war there (see the Monitor, October 15; see also Chechnya Weekly, October 16), one Chechen has put forward his own ideas for resolving the conflict. In an interview with Nezavisimaya Gazeta, Nasrudi Chemerzaev, a member of the presidium of the Council of the Descendants of the Prophet Mohammed, Scholars and Sheikhs of the Chechen Republic, rejected calls for negotiations with rebels, which he called “harmful advice.”

Instead, Chemerzaev called for setting up a government in Chechnya that would take into account the traditionally informal nature of power in the republic. This government, he said, would constitute a “vertical of power” that would start at the neighborhood or block level in a given settlement or village. Sitting atop the vertical would be tripartite structure consisting of a chamber of district heads, a chamber of legislators and a chamber of “economists.” The chamber of legislators would work on laws and oversee their execution. The chamber of “economists” would be in charge of what he called “planning” and “experiments” and the execution of programs in the area of production. The chamber of district heads would have the final word on laws and projects, Chemerzaev said (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, October 16).