TENSION BUILDS IN DAGESTAN
Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 6 Issue: 23
The situation in Dagestan continues to heat up. On June 14, police blocked two suspected Islamic militants in a house in the town of Khasavyurt, reportedly killing one and capturing another, the Associated Press reported. On June 8, Timur Omaev, a representative in the Novolaksk district legislature, was shot four times on the street where he lives in the Dagestani capital of Makhachkala. Omaev previously headed the administration in Novolaksk, which was one of the districts attacked by Chechnya-based militants in 1999. On June 9, Daud Magomedov, deputy head of the Court Bailiffs Service and a former Makhachkala city councilman, was killed by an attacker who sneaked into his apartment when his wife left the door ajar.
Meanwhile, 150 people blocked the Makhachkala-Astrakhan federal highway on June 11 to demand the release of inhabitants of the village of Borozdinovskaya in Chechnya’s Shelkovskoi district who were detained during a security operation conducted there on June 5, newsru.com reported. Relatives of those detained led the protest.
Nezavisimaya gazeta on June 10 quoted General-Major Ilya Shabalkin, spokesman for the Russian military operation in the North Caucasus, as saying that members of Vostok, the Russian army’s special operations battalion commanded by Sulim Yamadayev, took part in the security operation in Borozdinovskaya, which is located on Chechnya’s administrative border with Dagestan and whose population in largely Dagestani. The newspaper quoted Anzhela Martirosova of the Dagestan Interior Ministry’s press service as saying about the incident: “I do not have precise information about what happened. But to judge from the information in the republic’s state media, the Chechen security people arrived in middle of the night and rounded up the entire male population. While so doing they fired their guns in the air and beat people with the butts of their assault rifles. The people were made to lie face down in the rain for five hours. One man died, three homes were burned down and 11 people were taken away.” Kavkazky Uzel on June 10 quoted a Borozdinovskaya resident as saying that four houses in the settlement were burned and that the body of a 77-year-old man was found in one of them.
Nezavisimaya gazeta reported that the funeral of deputy Court Bailiffs Service chief Daud Magomedov turned into a “massive protest rally.” “Some 5,000-6,000 people turned out for Magomedov’s funeral,” the newspaper quoted Makhachkala Mayor Saigidpasha Umakhanov as saying. “I was there and I heard people cursing the republic’s leadership for the anarchy that is taking place in Dagestan and saying that they cannot tolerate this any more. And everyone demanded the resignation of Magomedali Magomedov, the head of the Dagestani State Council, and his team. There is no other way out. Throughout these years the leadership in Dagestan has not analyzed even once why Dagestanis are killing each other, who is behind this, and why the situation in the republic is becoming more complex by the day. They are blaming everything on the Wahhabis. What Wahhabis? There are hired killers at work here who do not even know how to pray.”
Similarly, Gazeta correspondent Nadezhda Kevorkova indicated in a report from Dagestan published in that newspaper on June 9 that many observers believe the growing violence in the republic is connected more to the political power struggle within Dagestan’s political elite than to the war between the republican authorities and Islamic militants. In fact, some of Kevorkova’s interviewees suggested that some of the Islamists, including those involved in the 1999 Chechen rebel-led incursion into the republic, are acting in collusion with – or, at least, being used by – the Dagestani authorities. “In private conversations, people from the most diverse population strata in Dagestan assert that the main Wahhabis from the settlements of Karmakhi and Chabanmakhi live under the protection of the special services in Makhachkala, and are certainly not serving their punishment for the fighting with federal units in August 1999,” she wrote. Kevorkova quoted “a very well-informed expert” as saying that the “Wahhabi” leader of Karamakhi, Dzharulla Radzhabaddinov, “now drives around the city freely with a driver and bodyguards.” The expert added: “FSB officers went with him to the prosecutor’s office and said – take him off the books, off the wanted list, he is working for us.”
Still, Magomedali Magomedov won what the Associated Press described as “strong backing” from Dmitry Kozak, the Kremlin’s envoy to the Southern Federal District, who traveled to Makhachkala on June 14, which was the Dagestani leader’s 75th birthday. According to the AP, the local elite had expected that Kozak would arrange Magomedov’s ouster.