For the second time in two months, there has been an attempt on the life of the head of the organized crime administration of Dagestan’s Interior Ministry, Col. Ruslan Gitinov. Late last week, Gitinov was wounded in the shoulder when a car in which he was riding came under fire. Two months ago, a bomb went off near his car. Gitinov told journalists that the latest attempt was most likely organized by bandits who make raids and kidnap people for ransom. Recently, agents of the organized crime administration arrested the ringleaders of several such gangs. (RTR, January 16; Kommersant-daily, January 17)
Approximately ten minutes after the attempt on Gitinov’s life, a powerful explosion went off in the center of Makhachkala, where a car bomb had been successfully disarmed only a few days earlier. There were no casualties, though there was some damage to nearby buildings. (RTR, January 17) Dagestan’s deputy prosecutor general, Khabibula Aliev, claimed that the bombing was organized by Dagestani Wahhabis acting on instructions from Chechnya. (For further details of such claims, see Monitor, January 6) Local people were less categorical. If Chechens were to blame, they said, the act would have been carried out closer to the Dagestani-Chechen border, or directed against the federal authorities. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 17)
A more plausible explanation would seem to be that the bombing was connected with the increasingly tense political situation developing in the runup to February’s mayoral elections in Makhachkala and the elections of the republic’s State Council scheduled for this summer. Local people have speculated that the bombing was intended as a warning to Deputy Premier Said Amirov — the only mayoral candidate who could, if elected, exert serious influence on the elections to the State Council. This rash of crimes in Dagestan could be designed to intimidate Amirov and to warn his supporters that his election would lead to further destabilization. (Nezavisimaya gazeta, January 17)
U.S.-Baltic Partnership Charter Signed.