Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 31

Chechen authorities tightened security around the republic on August 6, the ninth anniversary of the seizure of Grozny by rebel forces, Russian news agencies reported. Chechen First Deputy Prime Minister Ramzan Kadyrov had the previous day dismissed concerns about possible rebel attack on the capital to mark the anniversary, saying that August 6 would be a day like any other.

But while the feared attack on Grozny failed to materialize, the fact that it was a day like many others was not much comfort. Citing unnamed sources in Chechnya’s pro-Moscow administration, Agence France-Presse reported on August 7 that nine Russian soldiers were killed and another nine wounded in clashes with rebels over August 6-7. According to the news agency, four Russian soldiers were killed and four wounded in 19 separate attacks on Russian military positions, while three others were killed and two wounded when separatists fired on a military truck near the city of Vedeno. One soldier was killed and another three wounded when their vehicle hit a landmine near Grozny, while another soldier was killed in the capital while trying to disarm an explosive device.

Federal forces sustained further losses on August 8, AFP reported. Three policemen died when their vehicle hit a landmine outside Grozny, while another Russian soldier was killed and one wounded in a blast in Grozny’s Staropromyslovsky district that same evening. Four soldiers were wounded when their convoy was ambushed in the Nozhai-Yurt district, while three more were wounded in ten separate attacks on government positions. Itar-Tass reported on August 9 that a federal serviceman was gravely wounded when rebel forces shelled a police station in Chechnya’s Shatoi district.

The Associated Press reported on August 9 that gunmen sprayed bullets at a car in Grozny, killing one person, wounding a child in the head and setting the vehicle ablaze. The news agency quoted a police official as saying that three members of the security force controlled by Ramzan Kadyrov were believed to have been in the car. The official spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of angering the force, the AP reported.

The Chechen police, meanwhile, reported on August 7 that a suspected rebel field commander named Abubakar Khasuev, described as a “brigade general of the armed forces of Ichkeria,” had been arrested in what police sources told Interfax was a “meticulously planned operation” in Grozny. However, Kommersant reported on August 8 that there was evidence Khasuev “did not represent any danger inasmuch as he had led a completely peaceful lifestyle for a long time already.” The newspaper quoted a Chechen special services source as saying that Khasuev had been in Aslan Maskhadov’s inner circle before the second war in Chechnya but broke with the Chechen rebel leader for taking too “conciliatory” a line toward the rebel movement’s “Wahhabi” wing.

Interfax reported that two other rebels were detained over August 5-7 – one in the Shelkovskoi district village of Voskresenovsky and the other in the Urus-Martan district of village of Goyty. Police said the second suspect was possibly an associate of rebel warlords Shamil Basaev and Doku Umarov. Interfax reported on August 5 that police had killed a militant in a shootout in the Shelkovskoi district village of Sary-Su. Another militant managed to escape. NTV television reported on August 6 that a criminal case had been opened against a police officer who was arrested in Grozny on suspicion of supplying guns to the rebels.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on August 4 that special-purpose units belonging to the Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) and the Interior Ministry had launched a large-scale operation against rebel forces in the mountains of southern Chechnya. A source told the website that eight rebels were killed and three captured in the operation, while two federal servicemen were killed and six wounded.