Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 74

A convoy of three trucks carrying federal troops from Beslan to Kabardino-Balkaria came under fire yesterday near the North Ossetian town of Khurikau. The region is inhabited mainly by ethnic Ingush. Among those killed were the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the Russian General Staff Major General Viktor Prokopenko and Colonel Sergei Grechin of the General Staff’s Main Directorate for Educational Work. Eight servicemen were seriously wounded, including Lieutenant General Nikolai Mukhin, Deputy Commander of the Rocket Forces and Artillery of the Russian Armed Forces. (NTV, ORT, RTR, April 16)

According to the interpretation being spread by the Russian security services, the attack was carried out by the fighters of well-known field commander Emir Khattab, a Jordanian-born Chechen, to provoke a quarrel between Moscow and Djohar. (April 16, ORT) This account seems unlikely. Khattab’s traditional zone of influence is the eastern region of Chechnya, bordering Dagestan. The region where the act took place was not under Khattab’s control. Khattab is unlikely to have violated the unwritten rules in force in Chechnya. To have taken an initiative would have set him at odds with the local field commanders.

It is nonetheless hard to disagree with Chechen Deputy Premier Kazbek Makhashev when he blames "forces who are not interested in stabilizing the situation in the Northern Caucasus" for this and "other provocative actions committed in the region in recent days." Makhashev is currently representing the Chechen side at negotiations between Moscow and Djohar to step up joint efforts against crime and terrorism. Acting Interior Minister Sergei Stepashin and Prosecutor-General Yuri Skuratov are representing the Russian side. Makhashev reiterated Chechnya’s rejection of terrorism and said his government is ready to investigate this latest incident. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, April 17)

Ukraine’s Arms Exports Growing.