Violence Haunts a New Year in Ingushetia and Dagestan

Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 10 Issue: 1

The start of the New Year has seen little abatement of violence in Ingushetia. On January 7, an improvised explosive device went off in a garage near an apartment building in the city of Karabulak, killing two people. A federal military source told Interfax that it is believed the two people killed were making bombs and both were suspected of participation in the republic’s rebel “underground” and had been involved in various crimes.

Also on January 7, an improvised explosive device (IED) was detonated near a store in the village of Sagopshi, breaking windows and damaging walls. Interfax reported that nobody was hurt in the blast, which took place in the middle of the night.

On January 6, Ingush Deputy Interior Minister Isa Giriyev discovered what appeared to be an IED on the windshield of his car, Interfax reported. However, when bomb disposal experts arrived at the scene, they determined that the device, which consisted of a piece of soap with the body of a cell phone and protruding wires, was a fake.

On January 5, a homemade bomb went off in the city of Malgobek near an office building of the Investigative Committee for Ingushetia’s Malgobek district. Interfax reported that windows in the building were shattered but no one was hurt in the blast. A local law-enforcement source told the news agency that the bomb had the force of a kilogram of TNT and was filled with bolts, screws and other metal fragments.

On January 4, a bomb went off near a food store in Ingushetia’s main city, Nazran. Kavkazky Uzel reported that no one was killed or injured in the blast.

A police officer was killed and three others were wounded in an attack that took place in Karabulak on January 3. Agence France-Presse, citing an official with Russian forces in the North Caucasus, reported that four policemen were wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a police car and that one of the wounded officers later died. Kavkazky Uzel reported that the victims were OMON special-task police commandos and identified the officer who died as Beslan Arapkhanov, a senior warrant officer.

On January 2, one serviceman was wounded when unidentified gunmen opened fire on a guard post outside the building of the Federal Security Service (FSB) for Ingushetia in Magas, the republic’s capital. Kavkazky Uzel reported that the same day, a small blast near an apartment building in Karabulak injured a passer-by.

On New Year’s Day, unknown attackers tried to set fire to a Russian Orthodox church in Karabulak, but the church was undamaged and nobody was hurt in the incident. Kavkazky Uzel reported that on New Year’s Eve, a homemade bomb went off in the apartment of a local Karabulak resident, but no one was hurt in that incident.

On December 29, an aide to the prosecutor of Nazran was wounded when his car was attacked. RIA Novosti quoted a local police spokesman as saying that three unidentified people riding in a Zhiguli car opened fire at another Zhiguli car driven by the prosecutor’s aide, who was hospitalized.

According to RIA Novosti, 12 militants, including “a warlord and foreign mercenaries,” were killed in a security sweep carried out in Ingushetia over December 23-25.  Russia Today reported on December 29 that among those killed in the sweep was Vakha Dezhenaraliev, who had worked under Chechen rebel leader Dokku Umarov and had been on the federal government’s wanted list for attacks on police and Russian Interior Ministry troops.

While violence in Ingushetia has continued, a leading Russian human rights campaigner said just before the New Year that she sees hope that things will change for the better in the republic under its new leader, Yunus Bek-Yevkurov. Moscow Helsinki Group head Lyudmila Alekseyeva told Interfax on December 26 that while this had not yet occurred, conditions are being created for an improvement in the human rights situation in Ingushetia “in the near future.” Alekseyeva had just returned from a trip to Ingushetia, where she met with the new president for several hours, as well as other officials and civil society representatives.

Alekseyeva said she liked Yevkurov very much, saying he made “a very good impression,” and that he intends to resolve the problem of abductions in Ingushetia. “If something has happened somewhere—a house has been surrounded, people have been detained—he goes to the scene of the incident in person to sort things out for himself,” she said, adding that Yevkurov believes the problem of abductions can be resolved in the short term. Alekseyeva said Yevkurov told her that corruption in Ingushetia was his main concern.

Alekseyeva told Interfax that while human rights are still being violated in Ingushetia and that shootings and attacks are still taking place, the situation in the republic will soon change because its new president has not only reconciled with leaders of the opposition to his predecessor, Murat Zyazikov, but has also invited them into his government (North Caucasus Weekly, November 24, 2008).

Meanwhile, Dagestan has also seen a violent start to 2009. A bomb blast on January 6 in the village of Reduktorny in the capital Makhachkala severely wounded a police officer, who died the following day, the Rosbalt News Agency reported. The deputy head of publicly safety directorate of the police department in Makhachkala’s Leninsky district was severely wounded in the same explosion.

On January 4, a bomb targeting a police patrol car in the village of Sadovy in the city of Khasavyurt wounded two officers, RIA Novosti reported.

On January 2, a large IED, containing the equivalent of more than 16 pounds of TNT, was found on the street in Makhachkala and defused, Interfax reported. The news agency quoted police as saying that the device included a detonator, one pound of explosive packed into a jar and a metal bucket filled with ammonium nitrate and aluminum powder mixed together. Interfax reported that a bomb disposal team used a water cannon to neutralize the device.
On New Year’s Eve, a police major was shot and killed in Makhachkala, Kavkazky Uzel reported. Also on December 31, armed gunmen opened fire on a police vehicle carrying two officers in Khasavyurt. RIA Novosti reported that one of the officers was wounded and hospitalized and that some seventeen 9mm-caliber cartridges were retrieved from the scene.

Major General Valery Lipinsky, deputy commander of the North Caucasus arm of Russia’s Interior Ministry forces, was fatally wounded when his car came under fire in Makhachkala on December 29. Interfax reported that Lipinsky died in the hospital of chest wounds.