Olympics in Sochi; state terror in Dagestan

North Caucasus

With the Winter Olympics underway in Sochi, Russian special forces troops killed five suspected militants and took another into custody Feb. 8 in an assault on a house in Makhachkala, capital of Dagestan. The suspects were named as members of the “Buynaksk” militant group, and their leader, who was among the dead, as Alexei Pashentsev, an ethnic Russian convert to Islam. The Buynaksk network was named as tied to December’s Volgograd attacks, although there was no claim that the cell targeted in the raid was directly involved. Three days earlier, a suspected mastermind of the Volgograd attacks was reported killed in a shoot-out with security forces following a raid on a house in the Dagestan town of Izberbash. However, Russian state media named the network targeted in that raid as “Kadarskaya.” (CNN, Feb. 8; Vestnik Kavkaza, Feb. 5) Jan. 18 saw another raid in Makhachkala, in which seven presumed militants were killed, and links to the Volgograd attacks alleged. That time, Russia’s National Anti-Terrorism Committee named the suspects as members of the Buinaksk group. (RIA-Novosti, Jan. 30; CNN, Jan. 18)

The Chechen rebels meanwhile issued their own statement in the name of the “Caucasus Emirate,” claiming “responsibility for elimination of Russian infidels”—presumably meaning an armed attack on security forces—”in the province of Nogai Steppe (Russian name: Stavropol Territory).” The statement said the attack was carried out by “the KBK Mujahideen”—meaning fighters attached to the Emirate’s claimed province of Kabarda, Balkaria and Karachai (KBK). The Caucasus Emirate claims much of southern Russia, including Sochi, Stavropol Krai and Kabardino-Balkaria, as well as Chechnya. (Kavkaz Center, Feb. 9) (See map)

The claimed Stavropol attack seems to have received no coverage in the Russian media.

Map: Wikitravel

  1. Pussy Riot whipped by Cossacks

    Not every day that circumstances present editors with headlines as authentically lurid as this one… But the LA Times on Feb. 19 provides video footage of Sochi Cossack patrolmen using whips on Pussy Riot, who attempted to hold a protest at the Olympics. Three other Pussy Rioters said they were arbitrarily detained at their hotel, roughed up and held for hours. The Sochi Police Department told Itar-Tass news agency that the women were questioned about a theft at the hotel where they were staying. Yeah, sounds likely.