North Caucasus: violence, repression in Cechnya, Dagestan

Insurgency and counterinsurgency grind on in the North Caucasus, with the world’s attention elsewhere. Two police were killed and five wounded April 15 when gunmen ambushed their armored personnel carrier in Chechnya, Russia’s RIA reported. One was killed by a roadside bomb and the second when gunmen with automatic weapons opened fire.

Two police were killed in a another attack the following in neighboring Dagestan, Itar-Tass reported. Gunmen opened fire on a police unit searching for guerillas, the agency quoted Dagestan’s Interior Ministry as saying. Police returned fire, killing one gunman, Itar-Tass said. (Reuters, April 16)

On April 10, a militant was killed in a sweep operation in Dagestan, and was later identified as Makhach Yasin Rasulov, the ideologist of the “Shariat” extremist ring, Dagestan’s Interior Minister told Interfax. Earleir reports, however, claimed that Rasulov had been killed in the autumn of 2005, in a sweep operation in the village of Primorsky near Makhachkala.

Another leader of the “Shariat” ring, Gadzhi Malikov, managed to escape in the April 10 sweep, which targeted militants hiding in a private house in Primorsky. A bomb was later discovered in the house. The area near to the house has been cordoned off, and the bomb was detonated at the scene. (Interfax, April 10)

In late March, authorities in Dagestan interrogated US freelance journalist Kelly McEvers in four prolonged sessions, accused her of involvement in “terrorist activity”, confiscated her possessions, and instructed her not to leave the region. She said Russian FSB agents were inmvolved in the interrogation. (IFEX, April 1)

As we have noted before, Dagestan controls a critical Kazakhstan-Russia pipeline route, and is perceived by the Kremlin as the “next domino” after Chechnya.

See our last reports on the Caucasus and Dagestan.