Chechnya today (April 16) is marking the first anniversary of the end of the counter-terrorism operation in the republic with what it is calling a Day of Peace –a series of government-organized celebrations and festivities including concerts, sports events, a cross-country automobile/motorcycle race and even, according to the Kavkazsky Uzel website, contests for the best ideas for “the patriotic education of young people” (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 14).
On the eve of the celebrations, Chechen President, Ramzan Kadyrov, said the lifting of the counter-terrorist operation regime in the republic last April 16 marked the Chechen people’s victory over international terrorism. He thanked the state security services, police and troops for “doing their utmost to purge the republic of terrorists and bandits of all hues” and condemned the “renegades” who had tried to impose their ideas and views on the Chechen people. “We showed them that we have our culture, our traditions, and that we will not allow anyone to destroy our age-old customs,” Kadyrov said.
According to Oleg Orlov, head of the Memorial human rights group, the number of security personnel killed in terrorist attacks has actually increased since the “end” of the counter-terrorism regime. He told RIA Novosti that 85 law enforcement officers were killed and 168 injured in Chechnya between April 16, 2009 and the end of March 2010, compared with 50 killed and 140 injured between April 16, 2008 and the end of March 2009. According to Orlov, 93 people were killed and 192 wounded in Chechnya in all of 2009 –a figure one and a half times greater than the number killed and wounded in the republic in 2008 (RIA Novosti, April 15).
Early today (April 16), unidentified attackers opened fire on members of Chechnya’s OMON special tasks police unit on the outskirts of the village of Roshni-Chu in the republic’s Urus-Martan district, wounding a sergeant. According to a late report, the OMON sergeant later died in the hospital.
Two explosions yesterday (April 15) in Chechnya’s Achkhoi-Martan district killed three servicemen and wounded one. The first blast took place as Russian army personnel were conducting a reconnaissance mission in a wooded mountainous area 9 kilometers from the village of Bamut. The explosion killed the deputy commander of the reconnaissance unit and injured two contract soldiers, one of whom died on the way to the hospital. As the wounded soldiers were being evacuated, a second explosive device detonated, wounding the commander of the reconnaissance group, who also died on the way to the hospital (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 16).
On April 12, an explosion in a wooded area near the village of Akhkinchu-Borzoi in Chechnya’s Kurchaloi district wounded three policemen (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 13). That same day, a suspected militant was killed police in Chechnya’s Naursk district (RIA Novosti, April 12). On April 10, a serviceman with the Russian interior ministry’s internal troops was killed in an explosion near the settlement of Shalazhi in Chechnya’s Urus-Martan district. That same day, a serviceman with an internal troops bomb disposal unit was severely wounded by a bomb blast in Chechnya’s Shali district (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 12).
Violence continued in other parts of the North Caucasus this past week. Two suspected militants were killed on April 15 when security forces stormed a house in the village of Kara-Tyube in Dagestan’s Babayurtovsky district. Also on April 15, bomb disposal experts in Makhachkala defused two explosive devices that were found in an abandoned car used earlier that same day in an attack on a police post in Dagestan’s capital. One policeman was shot and wounded in that attack (www.newsru.com, April 15).
Three Russian interior ministry internal troops were killed and seven were wounded on April 12 during an operation targeting suspected militants in Dagestan’s Karabudakhkent district. The battle between security forces and the rebels took place in a wooded area south of the village of Gubden. Sources were quoted as saying that Russia special services were not ruling out the possibility that among the militants involved in that battle were Magomedali Vagabov, whose wife Maryam Sharipova was reportedly one of the suicide bombers who attacked the Moscow metro on March 29, and Sharipova’s brother, Anvar Sharipov (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 12).
The head of the criminal investigation department of Kabardino-Balkaria’s interior ministry, Zuber Shukaev, was severely wounded when a bomb went off in his car as he was driving in the republican capital Nalchik on April 11. He died in the hospital later that same day (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 11). The day before that attack, the office of Kabardino-Balkaria’s reported that there had been seven recorded attacks on law-enforcement officers in the republic between January 1 and March 31 of this year, compared with four such attacks during the same period of 2009 (www.kavkaz-uzel.ru, April 10).