Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 3 Issue: 35

The November 12 issue of Nezavisimaya Gazeta carried an interview by a leading war correspondent, Il’ya Maksakov, with Sherip Alikhadzhiev, the pro-Moscow chief of administration of Shali District in Chechnya. “The village of Avtury,” Alkhadzhiev remarked, “has more than 15,000 inhabitants, who were always completely pro-Russian. But now the population is turning in the opposite direction. About three months ago, there was an incident in which a 50-year-old-man was forced to sit down on a sharpened pole [that is, he was impaled through the bowels]. Such a thing last occurred under Ivan the Terrible [in the 16th century]. After a five-hour operation in the hospital, the man died, and he left children, a family. There is a certain structure called SSG-1, which is not subordinate either to the FSB or to Khankala [military headquarters]; it is subordinate to no one, though formally it is a special detachment of the FSB. They are based near Avtury…. The senior officer among them goes by the nickname ‘Demon.’ Bandits in epaulettes and terrorists represent in fact one and the same thing. The provocative taking of people into custody, extrajudicial reprisals and murders are sowing enmity among the peaceful populace.”