Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 8 Issue: 2

Servicemen from the “Vostok” battalion of the Russian Defense Ministry’s Main Intelligence Directorate (GRU) fought with about five gunmen on the outskirts of the Dzhanei-Vedeno in the Vedeno district on January 9. A Chechen law-enforcement source told RIA Novosti that one of the rebels was killed and the rest managed to escape, while there were no casualties among the federal servicemen. Following the battle, the federal servicemen found a Kalashnikov assault rifle, several F-1 grenades, several hundred cartridges and a radio at the scene. Meanwhile, a large arms cache, including an artillery shell, two mortar shells and 69 kilograms of TNT, was found on the grounds of the Selkhoztekhnika agricultural equipment enterprise in the village of Novy Sharoi on January 9.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on January 11 that 13 rebels and rebel accomplices had given up over the previous 24 hours, with 23 surrendering over the previous two days. According to Chechen security agencies, more than 400 rebels have surrendered since July 15 of last year when the Russian authorities offered amnesty to those not guilty of grave crimes.

The amnesty offer expires on January 15. Interfax, citing the Chechen Interior Ministry, reported on January 3 that a 76-year-old Grozny resident who had voluntarily joined the rebel group led by Zelimkhan Yandarbiev back in 1998, had surrendered to the Grozny district police. Yandarbiev, who served as acting Chechen president from 1996-1997, was killed by a car bomb in Doha, Qatar in February 2004. Two Russian intelligence agents were charged with the killing and sentenced to life in prison, but the Qatari authorities released them and sent them back to Russia in January 2005.

The website, which is part of the Russian federal government’s “Rossiya” internet channel, reported on January 11 that a former rebel fighter, Ibragim Dadaev, had been named the new commander of the Chechen Interior Ministry’s patrol-sentry service. Dadaev, whose brother Musa heads the administration of Chechnya’s Achkoi-Martan district, once served in the presidential guard of Chechen President Djokhar Dudaev. He switched to the federal side in 2003.

Meanwhile, Prague Watchdog reported on January 9 that a group of armed men in two cars without license plates had abducted 26-year-old Islam Navruzov from his home in the village of Dolinsky on the eastern outskirts of Grozny the previous night. “The abduction followed the scenario that is usual in Chechnya,” the website wrote. “On the night in question several masked men armed with sub-machine guns entered the Navruzovs’ house when the whole family was gathered together. After threatening Islam’s brothers and father with their weapons, they took him away without giving any reasons. A search was immediately begun, but produced no results. On the following morning, Islam’s body, with a bullet wound in the head, was discovered on the outskirts of the village. Neighbors and relatives are shocked by what has happened, since they say that Islam had no connection with the forces of armed resistance in the republic.”

Despite the supported surrender of rebels in Chechnya, some observers believe that opposition to the federal authorities in the republic is on the rise. At an international conference on ending the war and establishing peace in Chechnya that was held in Moscow, Salambek Maigov, chairman of the Chechen National Congress, told the audience that the gulf between Russia and Chechnya has grown to “catastrophic proportions.” Kavkazky Uzel, citing the Rosbalt news agency, reported on January 9 that Maigov, who was the late Aslan Maskhadov’s representative in Moscow in 2003-2004, said “the Chechen resistance” is strengthening and that the republic’s population views the federal forces as “occupiers and enemies.” He said that Chechnya today is a “mono-ethnic” republic, with 97 percent of its present population made up of ethnic Chechens, and that the Kremlin does not understand Chechen society. “Chechnya has its own law, which is guided by the norms of Islam,” he said, and Russian legislation is rejected there.

Maigov said that President Vladimir Putin could resolve the conflict in Chechnya by granting it “self-rule” and a “special autonomous status” in which “human rights are observed and, at the same time, there are no contradictions with the norms of Islam.” Still, Kavkazky Uzel noted that Maigov’s plan does not envision an independent Chechnya but rather, is based on maintaining Russia’s current borders and protecting its geopolitical interests in the region. He called for negotiations leading to, among other things, a halt in military activities and the creation of an intergovernmental commission to investigate terrorist acts and render help to victims, followed by a plan for reforming Chechnya’s political system and holding new elections for the republic’s governmental bodies.