Publication: Monitor Volume: 3 Issue: 141

Tensions are rising between the three neighboring North Caucasus republics of Chechnya, Ingushetia, and North Ossetia. Russia’s Security Council is to meet in Moscow today to discuss the problems faced both by the 10,000 Ingush refugees who have returned to homes in North Ossetia’s Prigorodny District that they fled in 1992, and by the 30,000 Ingush so far too intimidated by threats of violence to attempt the return journey. Calls by Ingushetia’s president, Ruslan Aushev, for the Russian government to declare federal rule in Prigorodny District are being bitterly resisted by North Ossetian president Akhsarbek Galazov. Both Aushev and Galazov will attend today’s meeting, which is to be chaired by Security Council first deputy secretary Mikhail Mityukov.

Yesterday, several thousand armed men, former members of the Chechen resistance force, rallied in the Chechen capital Djohar-gala to demand the release of three Chechens being held hostage in North Ossetia. There were calls for Chechnya to declare war on North Ossetia to free the hostages. High-ranking government officials appealed to the angry and emotional crowd to remain calm, and tried to assure them that the government of Chechen president Aslan Maskhadov has the situation under control. (RTR, July 20)

But, in an implicit vote of no confidence in the ability of the Maskhadov government to maintain order inside the republic, the head of Chechnya’s National Security Service, Abu Movsaev, announced that he was resigning his post to set up a private security agency with Shamil Basaev, the former first deputy premier. Basaev, who resigned from the cabinet last week, had cabinet responsibility for industry, which in the Chechen context means the oil industry. The new security agency is to be called "Patriot" and its declared aim is to fight crime and "provide an environment conducive to the reconstruction of Chechnya." Patriot will offer "a full security service for individual and corporate clients," and will protect persons visiting Chechnya on personal or official business. It is to be staffed by field commanders and other former resistance fighters. (Itar-Tass, July 19)

Apti Batalov, a one-time acting chief of staff of the Chechen resistance fighters, has been named as Movsaev’s replacement. Batalov had been first deputy head of Chechnya’s national security service since April this year.

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