Rebels in Ingushetia Step up Their Activities

Publication: Eurasia Daily Monitor Volume: 13 Issue: 108


The end of May–beginning of June turned out to be quite a tense period in Ingushetia, with the armed Islamist opposition suddenly becoming more active than in previous years. The authorities announced the elimination of suspected militants, although it is hard to verify whether the slain suspects were actual rebels or not. The authorities reported that during special operations in the cities of Malgobek and Nazran, five suspected members of the armed resistance were killed and three arrested. The police said that they found automatic weapons, grenades and hand guns, including foreign-made ones, in the buildings where the suspected militants were hiding, along with a powerful improvised explosive device (IED). The five suspects killed in Malgobek and Nazran were preliminarily identified as Khizir Galaev, brothers Usman and Zurab Tsoloev, and brothers Adam and Muslim Mestoev (, June 6).

The regional branch of the Memorial Human Rights Center carried out a preliminary investigation, but did not find any evidence the slain individuals had been involved in rebel activity. Moreover, the rights activists could not confirm independently that these men had resisted the police. All the suspects were killed, and no effort was made to arrest them. Witnesses said that the government forces shot at the suspects, who did not fire back. The circumstances of the arrest of the three remaining individuals are unclear (, May 21). The arrested suspects have not been named thus far.

A week after the events in Malgobek and Nazran, an angry crowd of relatives of the slain suspects broke into the republican morgue, disarmed the police, took away the body of one of the suspects, Khizir Galaev, and buried him in the family cemetery. The process was videotaped and posted on YouTube (YouTube, May 28).

The publicity surrounding the assault on the morgue forced Ingushetia’s authorities to show their determination to punish those who had been involved in disarming the police, and nine young men were arrested (, June 10).

The militants also signaled that they were determined to take revenge on the government forces. On June 5, unidentified individuals fired from grenade launchers at an interior ministry unit stationed in the village of Alkhasty, in Ingushetia’s Sunzha district. The servicemen reported that no one was injured (, June 6). Ingushetia’s rebels have not used such weaponry against Russian forces in the republic in a long time. The incident showed that it is too early to dismiss the armed underground movement in Ingushetia, which remains a viable part of the North Caucasus armed Islamist underground movement.

Two weeks after the events in Malgobek and Nazran, the police said that they found weapons and ammunition in the homes of six people detained in Sunzha district, who were accused of ties to the Islamic State (Kavkazsky Uzel, June 10). The authorities have not made the names of the arrested individuals public. It is also unclear whether the suspects were members of the Islamic State, helped the organization or simply wished to join it.

The police also arrested several people in the village of Nasyr-Kort, two of whom were preliminarily identified as Abdul-Malik Mutsolgov and Abdulla Chumakov. The police allegedly planted a hand grenade and a hand gun in Mutsolgov’s home during an early morning search. Along with Abdul-Malik Mutsolgov, his father, older brother and cousin were also arrested. The police were interested in Mutsolgov’s cooperation with Salsabil, a charitable foundation. The authorities asked about a card with money and accused him of sending money to Syria (, June 2).

Salsabil is a charitable organization in France best known for helping to dig wells in developing African nations. During Ramadan, the organization collects charitable donations and distributes food items among the needy parts of Africa. Members of Salsabil in France refuted the claims that their volunteer had been detained in Ingushetia, saying that the arrested individual had nothing to do with their organization (, June 9).

The police and the Federal Security Service (FSB) detained a 22-year-old resident of the republic who allegedly was a member of an illegal armed group. The police found a “khattabka,” a home-made hand grenade, on the man. The FSB’s press service said that the group which had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State was made up of Sunzha district residents (, June 10).

On the evening of June 9, an IED exploded in the town of Sunzha, under the car of the deputy chairman of Sunzha district council, 58-year-old Kharon Tsechoev. No one was hurt in the blast because no one was in the car (Interfax, June 9). The Secretary of Ingushetia’s Security Council, Ahmed Dzeitov, said that investigators had several possible theories about the bombing, including that it was an attack by the Islamist opposition.

On the evening on May 31, in the village of Ekazhevo, unknown individuals gunned down a man in his car. The victim was identified as an Ekazhevo resident, Khasan Tsechoev, who died on the spot. The car was attacked while Tsechoev was driving down his own street (, May 31). It may have been an ordinary crime, but it nonetheless added to the mounting tensions in the republic.

In a separate incident, unknown assailants fired shots from a moving car at a passerby in the village of Nesterovskoe. The man was wounded in the hip and was hospitalized (, June 9).

Ingushetia, the smallest North Caucasian republic, is evidently experiencing a spike in violence after a long lull in militant activity. The recent series of incidents appear to indicate that a new wave of rebel activities in the republic may lie ahead.