Security Sweeps Continue in Ingushetia

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 18

RIA Novosti reported on May 1 that two servicemen from a Russian Interior Ministry unit based in Khankala, Chechnya, had been killed in an explosion in Ingushetia’s Nazranovsky district. The agency quoted a source in Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry as saying that the servicemen were taking part in an operation near the village Ali-Yurt when an “unidentified explosive device” went off, killing both of them. On May 2, however, a spokesman for Ingushetia’s Interior Ministry, Nadir Yevloev, said the two soldiers had been wounded in the blast but survived.

In any case, the incident was further evidence that the security situation in Ingushetia remains difficult. On April 28, 300 officers from various law-enforcement units in the republic took part in an operation in the Nazranovsky district village of Surkhani aimed at tracking down participants in “illegal armed formations,” RIA Novosti reported, citing a source in the republic’s Interior Ministry. The source said that “heavy armor” was being employed in the operation, in which the passports and cars of local residents were being checked with the aim of finding and apprehending “leaders and members” of illegal armed formations. Kavkazky Uzel reported on May 3 that operations aimed at capturing members of “illegal armed formations” were continuing and that the villages of Surkhakhi and Ali-Yurt had been blockaded since the previous week. Federal and local security bodies conducted a large-scale “zachistka,” or security sweep, in the settlement of Voznesenovskaya in Ingushetia’s Malgobeksky district on April 22 and 23, reportedly as part of an ongoing search for Uruskhan Zyazikov, the 72-year-old uncle of Ingush President Murat Zyazikov who was kidnapped in March (Chechnya Weekly, April 27 and March 29).

On May 1, Colonel Valery Zhernov, head of Center “T” of the Interior Ministry’s Main Directorate for the Southern Federal District, said that solving the kidnapping of Uruskhan Zyazikov is one of his department’s most important tasks, Kavkazky Uzel reported. Major Nazir Mamkhegov, deputy head of the anti-hostage-taking and kidnapping department of Center “T,” said that according to one version, the kidnapping of Uruskhan Zyazikov was a “political crime” but had the aim of extracting a large ransom.

Meanwhile, in what may be a sign of continuing tensions between Ingushetia and its neighbor North Ossetia, Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 29 that two days earlier, Ingush police had detained two North Ossetian Interior Ministry officers after their car was stopped and a military serviceman riding with them claimed he had been kidnapped by the two officers. The website reported that on the same day North Ossetian police detained more than 20 Ingush police who drove through their checkpoint, but that the Ingush police were subsequently released.

The independent website posted an item on April 29 stating that a host of “worrying” developments were occurring in the republic, including “special army operations in villages” and “the continuing dissolution of federal bodies in Ingushetia and their merger with the departments of federal bodies in the Chechen Republic (in particular, the planned merger of the Federal Tax Service directorate in Ingushetia with the similar directorate in Chechnya).” Despite this, wrote the website, the republican government’s TV channel is broadcasting stories that are “detached from reality.”

“The local TV channel has not reported a single case of kidnapping or killing committed in the republic by the ‘death squads’; not a single announcement made by relatives of the kidnapped or missing people has been shown on TV,” wrote “Full-scale ‘sweep’ operations have started in the republic, which troops are carrying out in violation of people’s constitutional rights and freedoms. Villages are being encircled, entrances and exits are being blocked, large-scale searches and checks are being carried out while trespassing on private property. But the TV channel says nothing about this.”