Kavkazky Uzel reported that relatives of rebels killed during the October 13 operation in Nalchik had expressed indignation over the Kavkazcenter interviews with rebel leaders Shamil Basaev and Anzor Astemirov. “A young woman calling herself Fatima, whose husband died in the capital of Kabardino-Balkaria and who was left with three children, cursed Anzor Astemirov, whom she considers guilty of the death of her husband as well as other Muslims,” the website wrote on January 10. It quoted her as saying: “He says that he prepared the armed campaign of Muslims many months, and brags that no one betrayed them. I would like to ask him about how he prepared this operation incompetently, knowing that there was a leak of information and in fact sending nearly a hundred people to a certain death. And if dying for one’s faith is a blessing, then why didn’t he himself die instead of saving his own skin?”
According to Kavkazky Uzel, a majority of the mothers of those who died in Nalchik believe that Basaev, Astemirov and other rebel leaders manipulated the religious feelings of their sons. At the same time, the website reported, the mothers believe their sons would not have allowed themselves to be used in this way had there not been “oppression” at the hands of Kabardino-Balkaria’s police. “Shogenov and Basaev acted together against our children,” Kavkazky Uzel quoted the mothers as saying, referring to Kabardino-Balkaria Republic Interior Minister Khachim Shogenov.