Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 02/2009

North Caucasus Weekly - Volume X, Issue 4

January 2009

North Caucasus Weekly (formerly Chechnya Weekly), The Jamestown Foundation


* Seven Chechens Arrested in Austria in Connection with Murder of Ex-Kadyrov Bodyguard
* FSB Accuses Zakaev of Organizing Armed Attacks in Chechnya
* Medvedev and Yevkurov Meet Again, This Time in Moscow
* The War on Dagestan's Police Continues
* Chechnya Starts the New Year on a Tense Note
By Mairbek Vatchagaev
* Ingushetia's New President Faces an Uphill Battle
By Mairbek Vatchagaev

Seven Chechens Arrested in Austria in Connection with Murder of Ex-Kadyrov Bodyguard

Agence France-Presse reported on January 28 that Austrian police had arrested seven suspects that day in connection with the murder of Umar Israilov in Vienna on January 13. Israilov, a 27-year-old former Chechen rebel who was subsequently forced to serve in Ramzan Kadyrov's security detail, later escaped to Europe and reportedly filed a complaint with the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg accusing Kadyrov of torture (North Caucasus Weekly, January 15 and 23).

The news agency quoted Gerhard Jarosch, a spokesman for the public prosecutors in Vienna, as saying that the seven suspects were all Chechen males aged 20 or older and were arrested during coordinated raids on 18 houses in the provinces of Vienna, Lower Austria, Upper Austria and Styria. Jarosch said it was too early to say whether those arrested included the trigger man, and also said that there was no evidence to suggest Israilov's murder was politically motivated. "We don't have any definite evidence yet pointing one way or the other as to what the motive really was ... for the moment it's purely guesses and rumors," he said.

Yet, Peter Pilz, an Austrian Green Party lawmaker and security expert, accused the Austrian Interior Ministry of having "actively collaborated" with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) by providing information on Chechen refugees in Austria. A ministry spokesman denied the allegation, although he said an FSB agent has had routine contact with Austrian security services personnel.

The Associated Press (AP) on January 28 reported that when asked if Israilov's killing was politically motivated, Jarosch said "absolutely nothing can be excluded." According to AP, he also confirmed that Israilov's name appeared on an online list that was dubbed the "death list" by the media. Police were still trying to find out who compiled and posted it on the Internet, the news agency reported.

The New York Times reported on January 15 that Israilov had been pressed by a Kadyrov "emissary" to withdraw a human rights complaint against the Chechen leader that he had made both to Russian prosecutors and to the European Court of Human Rights. According to the newspaper, an Austrian police record provided to it by a friend of Israilov included a statement given last year to Austria's Office for the Protection of the Constitution and Action against Terrorism by a 41-year-old Chechen, identified as Artur Kurmakayev of St. Petersburg, who said he had been sent to Vienna by Kadyrov to bring Israilov home-"by the use of force if necessary." Kurmakayev told investigators last June 10 that he worked for a "secretive department" under Kadyrov charged with repatriating Chechens in exile and that he had seen a list at Kadyrov's residence in the Chechen town of Gudermes of approximately 5,000 names of Chechens who had either fought against Kadyrov or "have otherwise attracted unfavorable attention," and that 300 of those on the list "have to die," including about 50 Chechens living in Austria (North Caucasus Weekly, January 15).

The official website of Chechnya's president and government ( quoted the head of the Chechen presidential and governmental analytical-information directorate, Lema Gudaev, as dismissing recent media reports suggesting Kadyrov was involved in the July 19 double murder in Moscow of Stanislav Markelov, the human rights lawyer who represented the family of Elza Kungaeva-the 18-year-old Chechen woman murdered by Russian Colonel Yuri Budanov-and journalist Anastasia Baburova (North Caucasus Weekly, January 23); the disappearance last August of Magomedsalikh Masaev, a Chechen living in Moscow who claimed he had been held prisoner by Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov for several months (North Caucasus Weekly, January 23); the murder of former State Duma Deputy Ruslan Yamadaev in Moscow last September (North Caucasus Weekly, January 23); and the murder of Umar Israilov in Vienna. Gudaev said the reports were part of an ongoing large-scale information war against Kadyrov and his administration.

FSB Accuses Zakaev of Organizing Armed Attacks in Chechnya

Itar-Tass and Interfax on January 27 quoted the public affairs center of the Federal Security Service (FSB) accusing Akhmed Zakaev, the London-based prime minister of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI), of directing rebel attacks in Chechnya. The FSB told the news agency that it had carried out a joint operation with the federal Interior Ministry to capture Isa Khadiev, a leader of the "armed gangs," and that Khadiev had "put up armed resistance" and was killed in the operation.

The FSB claimed it had received "reliable information" that "the activities of the so-called government of the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, headed by Akhmed Zakaev, had intensified on Russia's territory," and that on Zakaev's order, a ChRI armed forces headed by "A. Yavmerzaev" was being set up. According to the FSB, Khadiev was secretly sent to Russia last May (there was no indication from where) to give Yavmerzaev "practical assistance" in "organizing armed gangs," after which Khadiev "began to actively restore structural links of the rebel underground controlled by Zakaev on Chechnya's plains as well as in Dagestan."

The FSB said that taking into account the "special threat" posed by the "warlord" Khadiev, an operation to detain him was carried out on January 17, during which he was killed. It claimed that security forces at the scene seized automatic weapons, ammunition, grenades and "electronic information-carrying media" containing information revealing Khadiev's "criminal activities." The FSB called Khadiev's elimination "a serious blow to the rebel underground's system of operation" resulting in the destruction of "an established group of high-ranking warlords that has been operating for over a decade now." Itar-Tass reported that a search carried out in woods in Chechnya's Shelkovsky district uncovered an arms cache used by Khadiev's group that contained "a considerable amount of ammunitions and weapons, including seven improvised explosive devices."

Kommersant reported on January 28 that the incident in which Khadiev was killed had taken place in the village of Bairamaul in Dagestan's Khasavyurt district, and that he had been fatally wounded after he threw a grenade at the FSB and Interior Ministry commandos while trying to escape into a wooded area near the village. The newspaper quoted the FSB as saying that Khadiev had long been wanted as a leader of the "Wahhabi underground" and had been named head of the Council of Alims of the Caucasus by Abudul-Khalim Sadulaev, the Chechen rebel leader who succeeded Aslan Maskhadov following the latter's death at the hands of Russian security forces in March 2005. Sadulaev was himself killed by security forces in June 2006. According to Kommersant, Khadiev fled Russia after Sadulaev's death and returned two years later.

"I knew Isa Khadiev as a scholar-alim, but I didn't send him anywhere on any mission," Kommersant quoted Akhmed Zakaev as saying. According to the newspaper, Zakaev said "the creation of armed structures" has "never been and is not" part of his plans "as the head of the government of Ichkeria." Zakaev added: "They probably confused me with Movladi Udugov or Doka Umarov, who announced the creation in the North Caucasus of some kind of mythical emirate."

Kommersant identified the "A. Yavmerzaev" cited by the FSB as Arbi Yavmerzaev who, according to FSB and Interior Ministry officials, was essentially the "right hand" of Chechen rebel leader Doka Umarov.

Kommersant quoted Aleksei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center as saying: "I don't believe that Akhmed Zakaev would, from his comfortable sanctuary in London, get involved in organizing an armed underground; he doesn't need that!" Malashenko suggested that it was not a coincidence that this "kompromat" targeting Zakaev had appeared against the backdrop of attempts by the pro-Moscow Chechen authorities to get former political opponents to return home. "President Ramzan Kadyrov has called on Akhmed Zakaev to return home, promising to make him a theater director," the newspaper quoted Malashenko as saying. (The newspaper noted that Zakaev was an actor before Chechnya's wars.) "Apparently someone did not like that prospect," Malashenko said, adding that "Russia's special services have very jealous feelings towards the initiatives of the Chechen president."

According to Kommersant, Zakaev confirmed that people from his entourage have met with representatives of the pro-Moscow Chechen authorities. "I am ready to discuss with everybody, including representatives of Ramzan Kadyrov, resolving issues that will help avoid the continuation of bloodshed," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

In an interview with Radio Liberty's Chechen-language service, the text of which was posted on the rebel Chechenpress news agency's website on January 28, Zakaev denied that Khadiev was his emissary and said that the FSB claims were part of an "information war" by Russia's special services which, he said, do not want to normalize the situation in the North Caucasus and are feigning counter-insurgency activities in attempt to justify and maintain their current position of power.

Earlier this month, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev claimed that al-Qaeda emissaries are operating in Chechnya and Dagestan. According to Interfax, Yedelev told journalists in Rostov-on Don on January 21 that al-Qaeda emissaries in the two republics inspect and critique rebel groups and supply them with "new resources" to carry out terrorist attacks, including "new explosive systems that cannot yet be traced by our detection systems." In separate comments, Yedelev said that about 500 rebels and rebel supporters are operating in Chechnya while up to 120 rebels are operating in Ingushetia. He said that adding the relatives of the Ingush rebels brings the total "network of accomplices" in Ingushetia to 1,237 people.

Medvedev and Yevkurov Meet Again, This Time in Moscow

President Dmitry Medvedev met with Ingushetia's President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov in the Kremlin on January 28, a follow-up to the meeting they had in Magas on January 20 during the Russian president's trip to Ingushetia (North Caucasus Weekly, January 23). Kavkazky Uzel reported that in the Moscow meeting, Medvedev called on Yevkurov to "liquidate social disorderliness in the republic" and raise the authority of the republican government.

Russia's Channel One state television and Itar-Tass quoted Medvedev as telling Yevkurov: "I visited you not long ago. We discussed the current situation in Ingushetia and, of course, talked about the fight against crime as one of the most urgent tasks for the republic. Including [the fight] against organized crime and crime of a terrorist nature. As a result, we agreed we would meet in Moscow and that you would give me a report on the measures taken."

Medvedev said that the main reasons for the high crime rate in the republic are, first of all, disorderliness and bad social conditions, including unemployment and, secondly, the low level of authority of the republic's government. "If the government can prove its effectiveness, its ability to solve tasks for people, this will undoubtedly have an effect on law and order generally and on law-enforcement, and the crime statistics will drop," the Russian president said.

Yevkurov, for his part, told Medvedev that he and other members of Ingushetia's government had "held a series of meetings on the socio-economic set of issues, on the issue of fighting crime." Russian state television quoted Yevkurov as saying that he had come up with a number of high-priority actions, including those connected to the fight against crime, such as strengthening the law-enforcement system and working with the republic's population-above all, its youth.

Yevkurov cited among the concrete issues that need to be resolved the modernization of the airport in Magas, supplying the entire republic with natural gas, building roads and modernizing the republic's water supply system. He said that according to the Health Ministry, 40-45 percent of the illnesses in the republic are the result of sub-quality water.

RIA Novosti quoted Medvedev as saying in response: "Prepare the documents. I will giver orders that these issues be examined, including from the standpoint of financial support" (see Mairbek Vatchagaev's article in this issue).

Meanwhile, Interfax reported on January 27 that the commander of a special battalion of Interior Ministry Internal Troops, Lieutenant Colonel Timur Archakov, died that day while being taken to the hospital after he was shot by unidentified attackers at the covered market in central Nazran. The previous day, January 26, two Nazran residents suspected of being militants, identified as Akhmed and Rustam Uzhakhov, were killed in a shootout with security forces in the city.

On January 23, RIA Novosti quoted Russia's Interior Ministry as denying media reports that an Internal Troops armored personnel carrier (APC) had driven onto oncoming traffic on a road in Nazran two days earlier, smashing two cars. A person in one of the cars hit by the APC was reportedly severely injured.

The War on Dagestan's Police Continues

The Regnum News Agency on January 28 quoted Russia's Interior Ministry as reporting that an arms cache containing several grenades for grenade launchers, eight hand grenades, more than a thousand cartridges of various calibers and food and medicine was discovered in the village of Endreyaul in Dagestan's Khasavyurt district.

Itar-Tass reported on January 22 quoted Dagestani Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky as saying that Dagestani and Russian police, acting on a tip-off from a member of a rebel group, discovered an arms cache in the village of Arkabash near the city of Khasavyurt. The cache, which reportedly belonged to rebels who were killed during a special operation late last year, contained two Kalashnikov assault rifles, a machinegun, over a thousand cartridges of various calibers, several hand grenades and grenades for grenade launchers.

Also on January 22, Interfax reported that a police car in Makhachkala came under attack by automatic weapons fire and that unidentified attackers fired grenade launchers at the Khasavyurt city police and prosecutor's office. No policemen or other official personnel were injured in the attacks, but one local resident suffered shrapnel wounds.

The Caucasus Times quoted Dagestan's chief prosecutor, Igor Tkachev, as saying during a meeting in Makhachkala devoted to reviewing the results of last years work that an "undeclared war" against security personnel is ongoing in Dagestan. He said that a hundred attempts were made on the lives of law-enforcement officers last year and that 57 people, including seven civilians, were killed in 2008, while 114 were injured. Still, Tkachev said that 16.9 percent fewer crimes were committed in Dagestan in 2008 than in 2007. He said that 77 members of "illegal armed formations" were killed last year and that eight surrendered.

Separately, the Caucasus Times quoted Garun Kurbanov, Dagestan's minister for ethnic policy, information and external relations, as saying that 100 attempts were made on the lives of law-enforcement officers last year, and that 36 employees of Dagestan's Interior Ministry were killed and 68 wounded.

Chechnya Starts the New Year on a Tense Note
By Mairbek Vatchagaev

After numerous statements by various ministers in Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's government regarding the victories that they scored in 2008 in Chechnya (, 2009 began with unpleasant news streaming in from outside the republic for Chechen authorities.

The Russian justice system released from prison a colonel in the Russian Army, Yuri Budanov, who was accused of rape and premeditated murder of the Chechen girl Elza Kungaeva. Budanov was released early because of his exemplary behavior and acceptance of guilt ( In December 2008, the court of the town of Dimitrovgrad satisfied Budanov's appeal for an early release, but the Kungaev family demanded its repeal and because of that the court's decision was delayed. However, without waiting for the official review of the appeal filed by the attorneys of the victim's family and in circumvention of the procedural requirements, Budanov was still released early (

In Russian legal practice, such decisions usually cannot be taken by the judges independently, as is customary in developed democratic countries, and therefore it is possible to conjecture that the release was sanctioned by Moscow.

In Chechnya, news of Budanov's release was treated as the collective humiliation of the many people who suffered in that dirty war. A number of protest demonstrations took place in the republic and many public statements were made by human rights activists, politicians and public figures in Chechnya, who demanded the repeal of the court decision granting Budanov early release from prison ( However, even more unpleasant for Budanov may not be the protest demonstrations, but the fact that several individuals filed complaints with the Prosecutor General's Office alleging that Budanov committed other crimes that are not yet charged the court of rule when he was commanding a Russian army detachment in Chechnya in 2000. The relatives of victims are willing to testify today with regard to other murders committed, they claim, by Budanov personally ( On the same wave of popular resentment came another news report, according to which the remains of several dozen people killed extra-judicially were discovered in the area of the village of Tangi-chu in Chechnya's Urus-Martan district of Chechnya, where Budanov's unit was deployed ( The statements by Tangi-chu residents to this effect may not allow Yuri Budanov to dot the "i" over the Chechen war for a long time.

Another unpleasant news report for the Chechen leadership was the murder of the 26-year-old Chechen asylum seeker Umar Israilov in the capital of Austria, Vienna. The news was alarming for Grozny not because he was killed but because the Austrian police managed to capture one of the possible accomplices, who drove two assassins in a getaway car to the victim's location. Israilov was known as one of the handful of those who denounced Kadyrov within the walls of the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg. It should be noted that Strasbourg agreed to consider Ismailov's case against Kadyrov, in which he describes crimes committed against him personally and provides details of many extra-judicial reprisals against the residents of Chechnya that he witnessed (RIA Novosti, January 17). Even though the current investigation is considering other versions behind the killing (, the main version is that the murder was based on political motives.

In the past Israilov fought on the side of the Chechen resistance movement, but in 2002 he was captured and in 2003, after numerous humiliations and torture, he was finally persuaded to repent and serve in Kadyrov's personal security detail. In 2004, he managed to leave Chechnya undetected and arrived in Austria, where he received refugee status. According to his father, who is also a refugee in Europe, his son warned him that he had appealed to the police with a statement explaining that he had been experiencing pressure to withdraw his case against Kadyrov from the court, and that recently this pressure had escalated to assassination threats.

Many international human rights organizations (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Memorial) called on the Austrian authorities to carry out a thorough investigation of the circumstances surrounding Israilov's murder. All of these organizations considered him the star witness against Kadyrov (

It is noteworthy that similar actions against Kadyrov (including filing lawsuits in courts, refusal to contact with hum, or unacceptability of his policies in Chechnya) are always accompanied by loud and scandalous murders: the assassination of Movladi Baisarov in Moscow; the shooting death of Ruslan Yamadaev; and the disappearance of Salikh Masaev ( To an increasing number of people this looks like a consistent policy aimed at exerting pressure on those who refuse to cooperate with the Chechen leadership and force them to stop their criticism of Russian policy in Chechnya. A growing number of Chechen refugees in the West began to talk of the alleged existence of a so-called "execution list" of ethnic Chechens who left for the West primarily seeking asylum (

This latest murder of a Chechen refugee raises many questions about the host country. First of all, is the state capable of guaranteeing security to refugees who fled from the persecution of the Russian authorities? One can only recall the murder of the prominent Chechen politician Zelimkhan Yandarbiev in the capital of Qatar, Doha, the assassination of the former Federal Security Service (FSB) officer Aleksandr Litvinenko as well as a series of killings in Azerbaijan and Georgia, including the December 2008 murder of the representative of the Chechen resistance movement in Istanbul, Islam Janibekov. The number of Chechen refugees who fled their homeland during the second Russian military campaign and were subsequently murdered abroad are now in the dozens, and an absolute majority of these killings occurred in Azerbaijan, Georgia and Turkey.

Meanwhile, Kadyrov held a traditional parade in his ancestral village of Tsentoroi, which increasingly resembles a military base. While addressing the military and police (who refers to themselves as "Kadyrovtsy"), Kadyrov called for a merciless war against banditry. By invoking this obscure term, he probably meant the actions of the resistance movement. As before, he also stated that everything was in order and that the only remaining task was to defeat a handful of militants in order to finish off separatism once and for all.

In 2008, according to the Chechen law-enforcement authorities: "324 members of gang formations were detained, 61 militants annihilated, and 93 members of gang formations were convinced to give themselves up" (, which yields the aggregate number of 478 people. This figure stands in stark contrast to the claim by Russian authorities that the number of militants was several dozen in January 2008 ( At the same time other figures are quoted for the entire North Caucasus, according to which not less than 315 militants suspected of participating in the illegal armed formations were arrested, 231 were killed, meaning that for the entire North Caucasus there was a total of about 546 militants ( This implies that about 90 percent of all insurgent losses took place in Chechnya. This estimate is unrealistic because the bulk of the casualties were in Ingushetia and Dagestan, where the losses among both the militants and law-enforcement authorities were at a level higher than in Chechnya. Similarly, the assertion by Deputy Chechen Interior Minister Muslim Isaev at a ministry staff meeting that "in 2008 there were practically no crimes of extremist nature in Chechnya" is trifling (

Thus, it is plausible that most of the aforementioned figures represent crude propaganda, and such figures are cited every time there is some sort of an event. For instance, if it is necessary to praise the police for its exceptional performance, the number of militants killed and detained is inflated tenfold. Meanwhile, the political leaders quote more modest figures supposedly showing that the situation has finally stabilized. This is why it is important to use estimates from independent sources in order to come up with rough estimates of what is happening today in the Chechen Republic. As during the years of the Soviet Union, all information today instantly becomes the subject of propaganda by the opposing sides. This information vacuum is further exacerbated by the fact that journalists cannot freely travel in the North Caucasus without being accompanied by the officials dispatched by the authorities in Moscow and Grozny.

Dr. Mairbek Vatchagaev is the author of the book, "Chechnya in the 19th Century Caucasian Wars."

Ingushetia's New President Faces an Uphill Battle
By Mairbek Vatchagaev

The appointment of Yunus-bek Yevkurov, the career military intelligence officer with experience in the Kosovo (1999) and Chechnya (2000) wars, as the president of Ingushetia, the smallest North Caucasian republic, in late October 2008 was perceived by its people as opening up the possibility of changes for the better. However, this Russia army colonel's first 100 days in office are likely to see no improvements in the political-military in the republic. Since the moment of his appointment, people in the republic have been expecting him to put an end to the extrajudicial executions of Ingush youth that are carried out under the guise of counter-terrorist operations and to the arrests and detentions of those who deviate from the principles of traditional Islam.

Yevkurov was not picked to become the president of Ingushetia out of the blue. According to Yevkurov, Kremlin emissaries had been meeting with him for quite a while to gauge his views and understanding of the situation in the republic (, January 13). In other words, even though Kremlin functionaries carried out similar character vetting of other Ingush politicians of various statures (largely from among the Moscow-based political elites), Yevkurov's appointment was not a surprise for him. The Kremlin needed a man who would trust Moscow unconditionally, which is why Yevkurov was selected. He is not like Ruslan Aushev, who had an independent point of view and who stood behind his decisions but, despite his military (meaning rigid) character, he is also not like Murat Zyazikov. The appointment of this military intelligence officer signals a new stage in Moscow's struggle against the armed opposition in the region and implies that Moscow will place its bets on military professionalism and stop pretending everything is fine.

All of this is rather temporary, however, because any president of Ingushetia would have to deal with the bases of Ingush society, which consists of family clans, and thus in exchange for one thieving member, the family (teip, or clan) will instantly find another from among his or her relatives. Thus, under these conditions, it is premature to speak of the real replacement of corrupt bureaucrats, as the opposition hopes will happen.

Immediately following Yevkurov's appointment, it was possible to get the impression that something was beginning to change as the news about armed assaults by the militants suddenly disappeared and the attacks on the republic's residents by unknown armed groups declined. Then it became clear that the lull in militant activities did not include operations carried out by militants from the jamaat led by Emir Magas. As a matter of fact, for a long time both the opposition and population at large thought or were told to think that all the blame for the situation in the republic was with Zyazikov, and, as a result, everyone assumed that once he departed everything would become normal. In the end Zyazikov did leave, but the problems remain unsolved, just as they were when he was the president.

This means that the reason for the problems was not Zyazikov personally, but could be found within Ingush society itself because Ingushetia, under the influence of the Chechen war, had been transformed into a new state. It is no longer the kind of society that can be regulated by traditions and customs, as was the case prior to the Chechen war. A vivid example of this was the fact that in an attempt to force Zyazikov to resign, the opposition chose a so-called parallel parliament (People's Parliament) based on the results of the elections of delegates from different clans. However, this parliament has never convened. This institution, which existed in Ingush society in medieval times, cannot function today because clan and family interactions have changed so much that the mechanism itself became a kind of atavism. Today it is nothing more than a footprint of the distant past. The Chechens went through the same formative stage in 1990-1992 and also failed to form a teip-based parliament.

The so-called opposition turned out to be a circle of people who were only dissatisfied with Zyazikov, because after his departure the opposition actively joined the coterie of supporters surrounding the new president ( Moreover, the only opposition-oriented website,, is apparently taking a time out, because it features no criticism of the republic's new leadership. One of the first decisions of the new president was to hold consultations with opposition members, who expressed their trust in him ( To the surprise of local residents, the new president suddenly began meeting with them during the Friday prayers in various village mosques, and this produced an avalanche of public approval. He visited the family of Magomed Yevloev (the slain founder of, the predecessor of, who was killed by the members of Zyazikov's entourage) and other Ingush families whose relatives had been killed. This signaled a positive development for Ingushetia. However, time will tell whether this was a predetermined step of Yevkurov's image makers or his basic belief as the Ingush leader. Nonetheless, it is alarming that as soon as Yevkurov touches the question of the republic's militants, any hint of diplomacy disappears. He begins to speak with visible irritation about "parents who should know where their children are and what they do." This is a well-known formula, one that has been adopted by Ramzan Kadyrov in Chechnya and obfuscates collective responsibility. Against this backdrop, to hope that the "death squads" would simply disappear into thin air with the departure of Zyazikov would be inexcusable naiveté on the part of anyone who follows the situation in Ingushetia.

While rumors are circulating that Yevkurov met with the leader of militants, Emir Magas (Akhmed Yevloev), and during the meeting attempted to convince the rebel leader to leave Ingushetia, the likelihood that such a rendezvous took place appears little to non-existent. Emir Magas is unlikely to trust Yevkurov, and the Kremlin would most likely have taken advantage of such a meeting to liquidate its most avowed enemy in the republic. The cornerstone of tensions in Ingushetia is represented by the interactions between the authorities and the militants. The militants ignore the authorities, while the authorities are trying their best to eliminate everything that has to do with the militants. In the context of such a balance of power, contact between the militant leader Emir Magas and the professional intelligence officer Yevkurov is unimaginable.

When Ingushetia's prosecutor general, Yury Turygyn, spoke last year of thousands of criminal offenses, including many serious crimes such as the assassination of law-enforcement officials, daily armed assaults and attacks on bureaucrats (Ekho Moskvy, November 9, 2008), it is important to understand that the issue at hand has nothing to do with conventional criminality but with the armed opposition. One of the recent innovations invented by government lawyers is the term of "suspected terrorists," which implies that it is no longer necessary to possess facts and that conjectures are sufficient to use deadly force in order to physically eliminate people (

The Sharia Jamaat under the leadership of Emir Magas is increasingly concentrating its attacks on police officers and Federal Security Service (FSB) operatives, although it also frequently targets religious leaders, who are trying to talk the youth out of joining the resistance. The jamaat's capabilities have improved to the point that it does not need supplemental manpower and has shifted its focus to the qualitative improvement of its ranks. This is why the jamaat has launched its own web resource (, which is popular among the youth and is accessed by those who are not involved in the resistance movement but sympathize with it. This is why any talk about the tensions in Ingushetia being defused through dialogue between the authorities and population is likely to be either self-delusion or a simple ideological tool used by the authorities in their struggle with the armed opposition. This struggle is the main problem that any head of the republic will have to face and, given that it is based on the diametrically opposed values of the two warring sides, we can be certain that this standoff will last for a long time to come.

Dr. Mairbek Vatchagaev is the author of the book, "Chechnya in the 19th Century Caucasian Wars."