President Vladimir Putin is set to chair a session of his advisory Security Council today devoted to the situation in Chechnya. The presidential press service was quoted as saying that the council would focus on rebuilding the republic’s socioeconomic sphere and state and legal institutions, and on efforts to ensure security, law and order there.
The news coming out of the republic, meanwhile, suggested that there was no sign of a let-up in guerrilla warfare. A police lieutenant was murdered yesterday in the village of Gekhi-Chu (Urus-Martan district), reportedly by Chechen rebels who wanted to seize his weapons (RIA Novosti, February 27). According to the Russian military, rebels fired rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons at an Interior Ministry checkpoint, also in Urus-Martan, on the evening of February 25, wounding one soldier. Federal positions around Chechnya came under fire on seven different occasions the same night, but no Russian servicemen were injured in the attacks (Lenta.ru, February 26). And on February 19, federal forces reportedly launched a large-scale “zachistka” (antiguerrilla) operation in Urus-Martan, centered in the Gekhi settlement. Relatives of twelve young residents of the village who were detained during the operation have asked the heads of Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration for help in finding the detainees, who, they say, have disappeared without a trace (Radio Liberty, February 25).
Meanwhile, a close associate of Akhmad Kadyrov, head of Chechnya’s pro-Russian administration, has disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Taus Dzhabrailov, an aide to Kadyrov, reported that Iles Magomedov, director of the “Grozny” television company, set out from his home in the Gudermes district last week for a meeting with one of Kadyrov’s advisers but never showed up. Magomedov’s car was last seen near a checkpoint outside the town of Argun. Prior to the start of the current military campaign, Magomedov worked as a deputy to Kadyrov, who was then Chechnya’s chief mufti. At the start of 2000, with the new war underway, Magomedov set up his television company, which, according to Dzhabrailov, “actively propagandized Kadyrov’s ideas for restoring peace and stability in Chechnya” (Lenta.ru, February 26). The rebels have regularly targeted Chechens working for the republic’s pro-Moscow administration, and Kadyrov himself has been the target of numerous assassination attempts.
The fighting has also claimed the lives of several near and dear to the rebel leadership. Two pro-rebel media outlets, the Kavkaz.org website and the Chechenpress news agency, reported last week that Aslanbek Maskhadov, the brother of Chechen rebel leader Aslan Maskhadov, was killed in a battle between fighters from the rebel leader’s Presidential Guard and Russian forces. The battle reportedly took place on the outskirts of the settlement of Shuany, located in eastern Chechnya’s Nozhai-Yurt district. Aslanbek Maskhadov was described as having been a member of his brother’s Presidential Guard. Yesterday, sources in the office of Sergei Yastrzhembsky, President Vladimir Putin’s aide on issues related to Chechnya, refused to confirm the reports that Aslanbek Maskhadov had been killed (Radio Ekho Moskvy, February 26; Kavkaz.org, February 22).
ILYASOV SAYS REFUGEES BEING RETURNED TO DJOHAR.