GEOPOLITICS AND TERRORISM IN NORTH CAUCASUS
Transcaucasia (South Caucasus) is a major conflict zone in the
post-Soviet space. Russia’s inaction in the Caucasus, especially in
the 1900ies, left a vacuum of influence in the region, and the void was
promptly filled by the West. The US established a strategic foothold in
Georgia, and the same can be expected to happen in Azerbaijan. Efforts
are being made continuously to alter the geopolitical orientation
Under the circumstances, the unrecognized Republics – Abkhazia,
Karabakh, and South Ossetia – became Russia’s natural allies. Georgia
led by Saakashvili escalates the tensions in the zones of the
Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts in line with the
policy pursued by Washington. The Russian Foreign Ministry stated on
July 9 that the situation has deteriorated considerably.
If NATO Membership Action Plans are enacted by Georgia and Ukraine
in December, 2008, Russia will find itself in an even more difficult
situation in North Caucasus. The move will ensure the strategic
containment of Russia in the southern direction, and the transfer
of conflicts from South to North Caucasus will substantially weaken
Russia’s geopolitical potential.
North Caucasus is the most vulnerable of Russian territories
watched closely by Russia’s geopolitical rivals. It is particularly
alarming that th e Russian political and academic communities tend
to underestimate the chances of a new war in the Caucasus.
The situation in the region is complicated due to a range of
conflictogenic factors of socioeconomic, political, demographic,
migration-related, ethnic, and religious nature. Exterior
forces exploit the ongoing conflicts and fuel them in their own
interests. Various NGOs, foundations, research centers, and agencies
dispensing "humanitarian" grants function as a multi-level monitoring
network which, at a certain moment, can be used to instigate an
outbreak of rapidly intensifying controlled chaos. Centers of radical
Islam, which in many cases are controlled from abroad, and illegal
ethnic armed formations serve the same purpose.
The Russian federal center does not have a sufficiently firm grip on
North Caucasus as demonstrated by the seasonal surge of the activity
of illegal armed formations in the region in 2008. The situation
is particularly insecure in Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, the
Kabardino-Balkar Republic, and, less so, in the Karachay-Cherkess
Republic. Terrorist acts are committed frequently in both urban areas
and remote mountainous regions where the presence of the authority
is hardly felt at all.
Even though, as FSB Director A. Bortnikov said at the July 3 meeting
of the National Anti-Terrorist Committee, the activity of 80 leaders
and active members of illegal armed formations was terminated,
over 30 ter rorist acts were prevented, and 130 explosive devices,
some 900 kg of explosives, and 600 firearms have been confiscated in
2008, the Southern Federal District remains the epicenter of terrorist
activity. At least 80% of terrorism-related crimes committed in Russia
are perpetrated in the region.
Attacks on servicemen of law-enforcement agencies continue and
civilians are also killed in Chechnya, Ingushetia, and Dagestan. The
FSB Director said that bandits seek to escalate the situation and to
demonstrate their potential to their foreign sponsors. He admitted
that terrorist organizations succeed in recruiting new members,
mainly young people influenced by the propaganda of religious and
Our survey of the terrorist acts in June-July, 2008 confirms the
conclusions drawn by the FSB Director.
Unknown gunmen opened fire on the army train security in Khasavyurt
on June 2, killing one serviceman and injuring another.
Three members of an illegal armed formation were killed in Dagestan
during a security sweep on June 7. One of those killed was Movsar
Sharipov, a 16-year-old wrestling champion of the south of Russia who
had no criminal record and was not known to have ties with illegal
armed formations. His parents were shocked when they learned that
their son had been a member of the gang of Salman Makhtiev, which
operated in the Khasavyurt region.
In Makhachkala, the Supreme20Court of Dagestan sentenced Zalimkhan
Musaev, a local resident, to 14 years in a high security prison. Last
year he organized a criminal group of three teenagers with the purpose
of killing local policemen. The juvenile criminals assassinated two
high-ranking police officers in October, 2007. The members of the
group were blocked and killed when they put up resistance.
Head of the city police department M. Aliev was shot point-blank
and killed in his car in downtown Buynaksk on June 23. Earlier, a
traffic police patrol came under automatic gunfire near the city of
Dagestanskie Ogni. Terrorists made an attempt to blow up the vehicle
of the 102th Interior Troops Brigade carrying servicemen on a highway
linking Gubden and Urma. A police sergeant and a local resident were
killed when fire was opened on a checkpoint in the Suleiman-Stal
The counter-terrorist operation regime was declared in the city
of Khasavyurt and the Khasavyurt region on July 7. A group of 11
individuals suspected of terrorism and attacks on servicemen of
law-enforcement agencies were arrested, an illegal explosives factory
was found, and 16 bombs, 4 RPG-26 grenade launchers, 9 RPG-7 grenades,
11 firearms, 22 grenades, and over 5,000 rounds of ammunition were
confiscated as a result of the operation.
Attacks on federal forces continue in the region. On June 2, an army
copter came under fire and a soldier=2 0was injured when a group of
servicemen was landing in the Vedeno district.
Guerillas blew up an armored personnel carrier and opened fire on a
border guard convoy killing three soldiers and injuring five.
On June 6, Head of Sunzha Police Department Shamil Kutsaev was injured
and police major Idriz Abdullev was killed in Chechnya. Ten people,
six of them policemen, were injured by a blast in a cafe in Grozny. In
June, guerillas temporarily seized the Benoy-Vedeno village in the
Four special forces officers were killed between the Dargo and
Zhani-Vedeno villages on a mission in the mountains of the Vedeno
district while searching for a gang responsible for assassinations
A police officer was injured when fire was opened on a checkpoint in
the Malgobek district of Ingushetia. On June 2, unknown gunmen fired
on a police checkpoint in the Nazran district. Police captain Rustam
Azhigov and his relative Islam Pugoev came under fire in a car on
June 16. It was a fifth attack on police officers in 24 hours. On June
19, machine guns and grenade launchers fired on the residence of the
Kursaev brothers who worked for the police department and narcotics
control service of the Nazran district. The residence of a police
officer also came under machinegun and grenade fire in Karabulak early
in the morning on June 5. A series of audacious attacks were reported
on June 5-6. Guerillas burned down the residence of Vice Prime Minister
B. Aushev responsible for the law enforcement agencies in the Republic,
fired on two police convoys, and shot dead the head of a department of
the Republic’s Administration for Combating Organized Crime. Most of
the attacks took place in broad daylight. Two local policemen and two
federal servicemen were killed and four police officers were injured
as a result.
On July 8, an armed group attacked the Muzhichi village and a
checkpoint of the Internal Troops located on the outskirts of the
Nesterovskaya village. A policeman, a rural high school military
training teacher, and a former police officer were killed by the
guerillas. After the attack, the bandits also opened fire on the
police checkpoint near the Nesterovskaya village.
The Kabardino-Balkar Republic
In June, unknown gunmen attacked the apartment with three policemen,
a narcotics control police officer, and two local residents in
the Elbrus region, injuring all the people. On July 7, also in the
Elbrus region, two traffic police officers were injured by a blast
which destroyed their car at the parking lot of the Cheget hotel. On
June 4, an attempt was made to blow up a police car near the Elbrus
village. Three attacks on officers of law enforcement agencies were
reported in June.
Early in the morning on July 8, three policemen were killed durin g an
attack on a police patrol. The attack was launched by Aslan Karatsukov
(age: 34) and Auladin Bakaev (age: 31) from the Dugulubgey village and
Ramazan Bairami (age: 25) from the Psychokh village. All the three
were under police surveillance as Wahhabis. A guerilla killed by
the police on the outskirts of Nalchik – Boris Zholabov from Tyrnauz
(age: 23) – was also a member of the Yarmuk, a Wahhabi Jamaat.
The Karachay-Cherkess Republic
Murat Akbaev, a businessman and a member of the Republic’s
parliament and the younger brother of one of the 16 people sentenced
for involvement in the notorious murder of 7 residents of the
Karachay-Cherkess Republic, was killed in Cherkessk on June 1. The
seven men, including parliamentarian R.
Bogatyrev, were murdered in 2004 at the countyhouse owned by
parliamentarian A. Kaitov.
The forces of the religious and political extremism in Russia’s North
Caucasus have not been routed. Illegal armed formations continue
to launch serious attacks and to destabilize the situation in the
region. So far, the law enforcement agencies’ efforts to suppress
the activity of terrorist groups have not yielded the desired result.
Police measures alone cannot remedy the situation which has profound
socioeconomic roots. An improvement can be achieved only by eliminating
fundamental causes of conflicts such as widespread corruption,
and by the=2 0reintegration of the younger people into a healthier
socioeconomic environment. Only this approach – and nothing else –
can substantially reduce the influence of exterior forces in North
From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress