Russian news agencies reported today (March 5) that Aleksandr Tikhomirov, aka, Sheik Said Buryatsky, the Muslim convert from eastern Siberia’s Buryat republic who became the main ideologist of the North Caucasus insurgency, was among six rebels killed in a special operation in the village of Ekazhevo in Ingushetia on March 2-3. Born in the city of Ulan-Ude of a mother of Buryat nationality and a Russian father, Buryatsky later studied Islam in Egypt and joined the North Caucasus insurgency in the summer of 2008 (see North Caucasus Analysis, March 13, 2009; December 18, 2008; July 11, 2008).
ITAR-TASS quoted a high-level Russian law-enforcement source as saying that two passports, one Russian and one “international,” issued for Aleksandr Tikhomirov and with photos of him, were found on the body of one of the militants killed during the Ekazhevo operation. However, the source also noted that the head of the slain rebel was “severely damaged, practically absent” and that forensic identification procedures could take several weeks or even several months. The source also noted that Buryatsky had feigned his death reportedly on several occasions before (ITAR-TASS, March 5). However, the Kavkazsky Uzel website quoted a source in Chechnya’s interior ministry as saying that Buryatsky’s body was positively identified last night (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 5).
It is worth noting that rebel websites last August claimed Buryatsky had personally driven the explosive-laden minivan that destroyed a police compound in Nazran, Ingushetia, killing more than 20 policemen and himself. However, the claim was later retracted (EDM, September 16, 2009).
The rebel Kavkaz-Center website yesterday (March 4) quoted “occupation sources” as reporting that Buryatsky had been killed in fighting in Ekazhevo on March 2, but that his body was only identified last night. However, the report noted that there had been no confirmation from the “mujahideen command” that Buryatsky had become a shaheed, or martyr (www.kavkazcenter.com, March 4).
Russian news sources reported that in addition to the six militants killed during the operation in Ekazhevo, 16 were captured, five of whom were current members of Ingushetia’s police force. Security sources were quoted as saying that the group of militants had planned to carry out attacks while Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and Aleksandr Khloponin, the Russian presidential envoy to the North Caucasus Federal District, were visiting Ingushetia on March 1. Four of the captured rebels – identified as the three Kartoev brothers and Yakub Aushev – were reportedly sent to Moscow, where they will be investigated for alleged involvement in last November’s bombing of the Nevsky Express high speed train travelling between Moscow and St. Petersburg, which killed dozens of passengers (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 5).
An investigator with the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office and an OMON police commando were reportedly killed yesterday (March 4) while inspecting the basement of a destroyed home in Ekazhevo, when a suspected rebel who was hiding in the basement opened fire on them (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 4).
On February 27, a court bailiff, Magomed Buzurtanov, was shot to death in Nazran (www.newsru.com, February 27).
In neighboring Chechnya, a Russian interior ministry internal troops serviceman was severely wounded on March 2, when an improvised explosive device (IED) went off during a reconnaissance operation in a wooded area several kilometers from the village of Tangi-Chu in the republic’s Urus-Martan district. The serviceman later died of his wounds. On March 1, another serviceman was wounded by an IED explosion in Chechnya. On February 27, a policeman was wounded in the Chechen capital Grozny when an explosive device went off as a police patrol was passing by. On February 24, an interior ministry internal troops bomb disposal expert was wounded in Grozny when an explosive device he was attempting to defuse went off (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 3).
In Dagestan, a suspected militant was killed yesterday (March 4) in a shootout in the republic’s Derbent district. The militant was believed to have been involved in an incident the previous day, when police attempted to stop a car in which suspected rebels were traveling on the Kavkaz federal highway near the village Mamedkala and those inside opened fire, wounding two policemen. The gunmen fled, but one was reportedly found and killed in a shootout (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 4).
Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee head Aleksandr Bastrykin yesterday called for the mandatory registration of fingerprints and DNA analysis of all of the people living in the North Caucasus Federal District. He also said that all vehicles in the region should be re-registered and given new license plates.
The measure was denounced as discriminatory by leading human rights activists, including Memorial head Oleg Orlov and Moscow Helsinki Group Chairwoman Lyudmila Alekseyeva. Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s press secretary, Alvi Karimov, said the idea was technically feasible, especially if it is sufficiently financed, but said that residents of the North Caucasus Federal District would react negatively to being seen as “untrustworthy” citizens. “If it were announced that fingerprint registration was being carried out throughout all of Russia , it would not arouse any negative reaction,” Karimov said. “We have one constitution for all citizens” (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, March 4).