Two Policemen Murdered in Kabardino-Balkaria

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 9 Issue: 28

Unidentified gunmen shot and killed two policemen in Kabardino-Balkaria on July 13, Interfax reported. The two policemen were guarding the Russian Academy of Sciences’ Baksan Neutrino Observatory, located in Kabardino-Balkaria’s Baksan gorge, when they were attacked. They were identified as Magomet Sapabashev and Arsen Mezhgikhov, both of whom were senior sergeants. The attackers stole a PM pistol and an AKMS automatic rifle belonging to one of the slain policemen.

Meanwhile, police in Dagestan killed a suspected rebel fighter on July 14, Agence France-Presse reported. According to Interfax and Itar-Tass, the suspect opened fire after police tried to check his documents near the city of Derbent and was killed in the ensuing battle. “An unidentified armed man was walking on a mountain road towards the village of Sabnava, and police hailed him to check his papers,” Interfax quoted a law-enforcement source as saying. “The man cried ‘Allah Akbar’ and tried to escape, opening fire at the same time. The policemen returned fire. The bandit threw a grenade at them but, according to preliminary reports, was himself fatally wounded when it exploded. Another grenade which the militant had may have detonated at the same time.” Itar-Tass reported that the suspect was shot by police.

RIA Novosti reported on July 15 that police in Dagestan’s Derbent district were conducting an operation in a wooded area near the settlements of Mugarty and Rukel, where an estimated six militants were thought to be hiding.

A powerful explosion reportedly occurred in Dagestan’s capital, Makhachkala, on July 10. Itar-Tass on July 11 quoted police officials as saying that the blast had taken place near the Marrakesh banquet hall, not far away from where a joint squad of patrol-post police and traffic police was on duty. One policeman was reportedly injured in the blast. The Marrakesh banquet hall was the site of a shootout last March in which three people were killed. Shortly after that incident, a bomb detonated as a police patrol car was passing by the banquet hall, but no one was hurt in that explosion (Chechnya Weekly, March 13).

Meanwhile, a group of women held a demonstration on Makhachkala’s Lenin Square on July 17 to demand the removal of Dagestan’s Interior Minister, Adilgerei Magomedtagirov, from office. The demonstration was organized by Mothers of Dagestan for Human Rights, and the group’s leader, Svetlana Isaeva, told Kavkazky Uzel that the demonstration was being held to protest the actions of the republic’s power structures, which she accused of abducting, torturing and murdering young people. Members of Mothers of Dagestan for Human Rights and relatives of kidnapping victims held a two-hour anti-kidnapping demonstration in downtown Makhachkala in February (Chechnya Weekly, February 7). The following month, another leader of the group, Gyulnara Rustamova, wrote a letter to the Moscow Helsinki Group and the Memorial human rights group accusing Dagestan’s power structures of “lawlessness and impunity.” According to Kavkazky Uzel, at least eight people have been kidnapped in Dagestan so far this year.