Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 121

A state of emergency and a curfew have been declared in Chechnya following the June 21 killing of the head of the republic’s national security service, Lecha Khultygov. Also killed was Vakha Djafarov, deputy commander of Salman Raduev’s “Army of General Dudaev.”

The killings suggest the existence of a serious internal political crisis in Chechnya, details of which are being carefully concealed by Djohar. Journalists were not allowed to attend the parliament session at which it was decided to impose the state of emergency. Reports, moreover, about how the deaths occurred conflict with one another. According to the most popular account, which may not be accurate, there was a meeting of Salman Raduev’s supporters in the center of Djohar on June 21 at which calls for the government’s resignation were heard. Djafarov set off from the meeting at the head of a band of armed men to try to take over the local television center, which is located in the office of the mayor of Djohar. On their arrival, the men were challenged by Khultygov, who accused them of attempting a coup. A gunfight ensued, and both Khultygov and Djafarov were killed. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, Kommersant-daily, NTV, June 23)

The state of emergency, which was not declared until two days after Khultygov’s death, is due to last until July 15. There will be a curfew from 10 pm to 6 am, with additional police patrols on the streets of Djohar. The Chechen authorities deny that the decree was motivated by an internal political crisis, and say the measures are directed against rampant crime. In light of recent events, however, one must take these explanations with a grain of salt.