Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 03/2009

North Caucasus Weekly - Volume X, Issue 7

February 2009

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


* Ingushetia's Violence Continues as Yevkurov Calls for Blood Feuds to End
* Chechen Rebel Representative Reportedly Switches Sides
* Briefs
* Ingush Authorities Blame Insurgency on Arabs and U.S. Intelligence
By Mairbek Vatchagaev
* The Changing Landscape of Islam in North Ossetia
By Mikhail Roshchin

Ingushetia's Violence Continues as Yevkurov Calls for Blood Feuds to End

RIA Novosti reported on February 19 that three suspected militants were killed during a special operation carried out by police in the village of Sagopshi, in Ingushetia's Malgobek district. reported on February 18 that snipers had begun targeting policemen and servicemen in Ingushetia the previous day. According to the website, two policemen and one serviceman had been shot and wounded in various settlements around the republic over the previous 24 hours. A source in Ingushetia's Interior Ministry told Interfax that a serviceman standing at a checkpoint at the entrance to the base of the Russian army's 503rd Motorized Infantry Regiment in the village of Troitskaya was shot by a sniper and wounded, while a police lieutenant was shot and wounded by a sniper in the village of Nesterovsky. Earlier in the day, a policeman shot by a sniper in the village of Yandare was hospitalized and in grave condition.

Meanwhile, a spokeswoman for Ingushetia's Interior Ministry, Svetlana Gorbakova, told The Associated Press (AP) on February 18 that another three policemen were wounded in Ingushetia that day when their vehicle hit a land mine. RIA Novosti reported that the car in which the three officers were riding was blown up in the village of Troitskaya, and that one of the policemen was in serious condition.

RIA Novosti reported on February 17 that two unidentified gunmen had shot to death the brother of a police officer at a private house in the Ingush village of Ekazhevo. Also on February 17, Interfax quoted a law-enforcement source as saying that the police had defused an explosive device found at the bottom of an irrigation ditch near houses on the outskirts of Sagopshi. The source said the device consisted of a 12-liter bucket filled with ammonium nitrate, aluminum powder and scrap metal, with an electric fuse attached.

Itar-Tass reported on February 15 that an OMON police commando had averted a terrorist attack on the home of a police department driver in Nazran by calling in demolition experts after seeing a man plant what turned out to be an improvised explosive device near the home. The device was safely defused.

These latest attacks in Ingushetia follow the large-scale security operation in Nazran on February 12, during which, according to the Federal Security Service (FSB), security forces killed several militants who had been planning terrorist attacks against government officials in Ingushetia. Agence France-Presse (AFP) on February 14 quoted the FSB as saying in a statement that the militants had been planning "large scale terrorist attacks against the newly-appointed leadership of the republic." The journalist Yulia Latynina went further, speculating in a piece she wrote for the Internet publication Yezhednevny Zhurnal ( published on February 16 that the suicide bombers were preparing to assassinate Ingushetia's president, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, in a manner similar to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed by a massive car bomb in Beirut in February 2005.

RIA Novosti reported that four police officers were killed and three wounded in the February 12 operation, during which three militants, including a woman, were also killed. Interfax reported on February 13 that 24 people, including 21 law-enforcement officers and three local residents, were wounded in the shootout. However, the independent website reported that 15-20 policemen were killed in the battle (see Mairbek Vatchagaev's article in this issue).

Ingushetia's chief prosecutor, Yury Turygin, told a press conference on February 16 that 61 rebels were killed and a large quantity of illegal weapons and ammunition were seized in the republic last year. According to Itar-Tass, Turygin said that in 2008, 39 law-enforcement officers were killed and 88 wounded, 28 servicemen were killed and 61 wounded, and five civilians were killed and 26 wounded.

Meanwhile, President Yevkurov, during a February 14 meeting with representatives of Ingushetia villages and local religious leaders, called for an end to the blood feuds that claim the lives of dozens of people in Ingushetia every year, the Regnum News Agency reported. Regnum quoted the office of Ingushetia's mufti as saying that 180 families in the republic are currently involved in blood feuds.

Chechen Rebel Representative Reportedly Switches Sides

The press office of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov reported on February 16 that Bukhari Baraev, brother of the notorious Chechen rebel field commander Arbi Baraev, who was killed in 2001, and father of Movsar Baraev, who led the militants that seized hostages at Moscow's Dubrovka theater in 2002, had resigned his position as special representative of Chechen rebel leader Dokka Umarov in Europe and returned to Chechnya. According to Interfax, the press office quoted Baraev as calling on members of the republic's "illegal armed formations" to lay down their weapons and return to peaceful life. It also quoted him as saying that while in Europe, he had learned about the changes that had taken place in Chechnya under Kadyrov only through media reports and was "blinded by fanatical ideas," and now sees no reason to oppose Kadyrov's government.

Baraev also said he hoped that the London-based Chechen separatist prime minister, Akhmed Zakaev, would reach the same conclusion, adding that Zakaev is "considered quite a wise man" and thus capable of understanding that his policy is ultimately aimed at the "extermination of his own people." Baraev said he hoped Zakaev would break his ties with "the extremists' breadwinner," Boris Berezovsky, the London-based exiled Russian tycoon, and return to Chechnya and help build the republic. "The idea of the holy war has nothing to with today's realities and with what is happening in Chechnya," Baraev said, adding that Chechnya under Kadyrov "does not oppose Islam" and has built "the most beautiful mosque in Europe." He also said that Movladi Udugov and "other extremist and terrorist ideologists" should immediately cease disseminating "false propaganda" on the Internet and stop trying to influence young people. He called Udugov a "traitor" and an "apostate."

Anatoly Safonov, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev's representative for international cooperation on combating terrorism and organized crime, said at a press conference on February 17 that Zakaev-who is wanted in Russia, among other things, for allegedly organizing an armed rebellion, setting up illegal armed formations and attacking a law-enforcement official, as well as alleged involvement in the Dubroka theater hostage siege-could be amnestied.

"The path to amnesty is not closed to Zakaev," Safonov said. "If he goes to Russia and proves his innocence in court, he can use the possibility given to him by President Kadyrov."

Zakaev recently rejected Kadyrov offer to return to Chechnya to work in the republic's Culture Ministry and/or its state theater (North Caucasus Weekly, February 12). Zakaev was an actor before Chechnya's two wars began.

Separately, Interfax on February 19 quoted another former rebel leader who switched sides, Magomed Khambiev, as accusing Berezovsky of financing Udugov and the late rebel warlord Shamil Basaev and of broadcasting "Wahabbi ideas." Khambiev, who was defense minister in the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) government under Aslan Maskhadov, charged that Berezovsky had financed "illegal armed unit" leaders "under the guise of paying ransoms for hostages" as well as the Kavkaz television channel, which he called a "Wahhabi mouthpiece."

"Not only did Berezovsky provide the money for buying state-of-the-art equipment, but he also financed the TV channel's work while being perfectly aware that the channel propagated Wahhabism round-the-clock," Interfax quoted Khambiev as saying.

Khambiev also alleged that Berezovsky has "personally" handed Basaev $1 million upon arriving in Ingushetia after the first Chechen military campaign. "It greatly surprised and outraged me," Interfax quoted Khambiev as saying. "I was surprised that someone representing a country hostile to Ichkeria and being a deputy head of its [Russia's] Security Council should give money to Basaev. I asked Basaev why Berezovsky had given the money and why Basaev accepted it. He answered that Berezovsky was afraid of him and therefore paid the money," Khambiev said. He claimed that it later turned out that Berezovsky had given Basaev not $1 million, but $2 million while in Ingushetia.


Police and Militants Again Exchange Fire in Dagestan

A policeman was shot dead and another gravely wounded when unidentified gunmen attacked a police patrol in Dagestan's capital Makhachkala, Itar-Tass reported on February 16. According to the news agency, police were chasing a VAZ-21014 car whose driver had ignored orders to stop, when the gunmen turned into a side road, riddled the police vehicle with bullets and escaped from the scene. RIA Novosti reported that a militant was killed and two others injured after police opened fire on their car in Dagestan's Khasavyurt district on February 15. Earlier on February 15, three suspected militants were killed in a special operation carried out in the Sergokala district of western Dagestan, RIA Novosti reported. Meanwhile, Kommersant reported on February 17 that Dagestani President Mukhu Aliev said he would not allow any official appointed by Federal Tax Service chief Mikhail Mokretsov to head up the service's branch in Dagestan. Mokretsov's appointment of Vladimir Radchenko-who previously headed the tax service in Kabardino-Balkaria-as the head of Dagestan's tax service branch was fiercely opposed by many Dagestanis, who demanded the appointment of a Lezgin, the ethnic group whose member previously held the post (North Caucasus Weekly, February 12).

Kadyrov Restricts Alcohol Sales

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov signed an order on February 17 restricting the sale of alcoholic beverages to two hours a day and completely banning the sale of alcohol during Ramadan. "I have signed a decree about the restriction of the sale of alcohol with a pure alcohol content of more than 15 percent on the territory of the republic," Kadyrov told his cabinet and regional leaders, his spokesman told Agence France-Presse (AFP). "We should fight against this evil with all the force that this law allows us to. I firmly believe that our example will be followed by many regions." As AFP noted, the 15 percent limit means that most brands of beer and wine could still be sold all day but beverages like vodka, which normally contains 40 percent alcohol, will be restricted. The French news agency noted that according to the decree, the only time to buy hard liquor will be from 8:00-10:00 in the morning.

Safonov: "International Terrorist Organizations" Operating in the North Caucasus

Anatoly Safonov, the Russian presidential representative for international cooperation on combating terrorism and organized crime, said on February 17 that hundreds of organizations similar to al-Qaeda have emerged in recent years with some of them operating in the North Caucasus. "There are still active representatives of international terrorist organizations, including al-Qaeda, operating in the North Caucasus," RIA Novosti quoted Safonov as saying. The news agency noted that last month, Russian Deputy Interior Minister Arkady Yedelev told journalists that al-Qaeda emissaries are active in Dagestan and Chechnya and providing rebel groups there with weapons and explosives. Meanwhile, Deputy Russian Interior Minister Nikolai Rogozhkin, who commands the ministry's troops, told Interfax on February 17 that Interior Ministry forces have killed around 20 militants in the North Caucasus so far this year.

Ingush Authorities Blame Insurgency on Arabs and U.S. Intelligence
By Mairbek Vatchagaev

Yunus-bek Yevkurov marked his first 100 days as president of the Republic of Ingushetia in a somber atmosphere. During the past week, the authorities in Ingushetia, including the president, searched for three possible suicide bombers who allegedly arrived in Ingushetia from outside the republic to carry out a terrorist act and shared the extraordinary news with the population through mass media (, February 6).

In recent years Ingushetia has grown accustomed to two types of daily events: 1) operations carried out by the armed opposition against the authorities and 2) military operations conducted by the law enforcement authorities against members of the armed resistance. This is why it was initially difficult to understand why the armed underground found it necessary to invite militants from outside the republic when it was experiencing no shortage of militants inside Ingushetia to carry out armed assaults on government officials, clerics and law enforcement officers.

The Moscow-based journalist Yulia Latynina's explanation that the local militants did not want to be responsible for spilling the blood of fellow Ingush does not withstand scrutiny ("Kod Dostupa" [Access Code] program, Radio Ekho Moskvy, February 14).

The members of Ingushetia's Sharia Jamaat led by Emir Magas do not have affiliations with any particular clans. In other words, they are no longer bound by the traditional family ties of an Ingush society. The principle of membership in the Muslim ummah trumps all other considerations and if there are innocent lives lost in the course of a militant operation, the jamaat members believe that their fates would be favorably decided by the Almighty. Achievement of the ultimate objective is of paramount concern for the jamaat members and they are ready to sacrifice more if they have the means to do so. They have shed so much blood of their fellow Ingush that it is irrelevant to discuss the ethical aspect of this circumstance. For instance, there was the midnight attack on Nazran on June 22, 2004, which resulted in dozens of killed and wounded Ingush (

While the law enforcement authorities were carrying out their unsuccessful military operation to detain the militants in Nazran, an administrative building was set ablaze in the settlement of Ekazhevo, which is not far from the city. That same evening, after the security operation in Nazran was over, a sniper from among the jamaat members fired at a checkpoint on a road in Nazran, wounding a traffic police officer (RIA Novosti, February 8).

In an interview with the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published on February 9, Yevkurov laid the blame for the violence squarely with the "newly arrived Arabs," stating that they were responsible for destabilizing the situation in the region in general and in Ingushetia in particular. Moreover, Yevkurov also blamed the "American and English special services." Another interesting feature of Yevkurov's interview was his admission that the authorities must be facing more than just a thousand militants. Yevkurov cited endemic corruption in the republic as the main reason why youths have joined the militants. However, the president did not bother to explain why 16-and 18-year-old boys would be concerned with corruption in Ingushetia, when in reality they are much more worried about the religious persecution of those suspected of adhering to the Salafi ideology, and the numerous assassinations of young men during so-called counter-terrorist operations. It seems that the popular theme of fighting corruption, which was pitched from Moscow, has become the motto of the new president of Ingushetia, who likes to portray it as the root of all of the republic's problems.

Meanwhile, on February 10, the militants killed a traffic police officer in the Tsentr-Kamaz neighborhood of Nazran-precisely the neighborhood where law enforcement officials launched a combat operation against the militants two days later. During this operation, four members of the Special Operations Police Squad (OMON) from the Central Directorate of Internal Affairs of Murmansk Oblast were killed and fifteen were wounded (Radio Ekho Moskvy, February 12). According to other reports, twenty-four people, including three city residents, were wounded during the operation (, February 13).

However, the independent on-line publication gave a completely different version of what happened. Citing information received from a source inside Ingushetia's Interior Ministry, the website reported that between 15 and 20 police officers were killed in the operations, including four OMON members (, February 12). cited comparable figures regarding the number of wounded. Apparently, in the course of a routine document check, teams from the Federal Security Service (FSB) and Interior Ministry managed to contain and blockade the group of militants in house No.8 on Gorovozhdev Street in Nazran. An ensuing shootout with the militants (whose precise number has yet to be established) lasted several hours and the law enforcement authorities had to use armored personnel carriers. As the battle drew to a close, the militants managed to destroy two APCs and one Ural military truck. When it seemed as if the militants had been wiped out, the first group of police officers entered the house, after which there was a powerful explosion that obliterated the entire structure. Apparently it was that explosion which claimed the majority of victims among the law enforcement officers involved in the operation.

Despite the fact that the house was completely leveled (and several other residential buildings in the neighborhood suffered collateral structural damage), the FSB hurried to inform the public that its operatives had found three passports of individuals who were on the federal wanted list as potential suicide bombers. The FSB identified a local resident Khasan Mutaliev as one of the three (aka "Mustafa," according to the customary FSB version, he was presented as the local cell leader). The body parts as-yet-unidentified resistance fighters were also discovered at the blast site. According to the FSB version, these body parts may belong to two residents of Karachaevo-Cherkessia, 27-year-old Edgar Kopsergenov and 18-year-old Alina Okhtova (the FSB alleged that they were a married couple), as well as the resident of Tyumen Oblast, Sergei Mokin, who was an ethnic Russian. It was precisely this trio of outsiders who were supposed to undermine the authorities in the Republic of Ingushetia, according to the FSB's version of events. To that end, according to the authorities, the three had apparently stashed 70 kg of TNT (, February 12). Subsequently, however, apparently the FSB decided that this amount was insufficient and it was increased to 800 kg of TNT (Interfax, February 13), but a day later this figure was once again inflated when it was rounded up to 1 ton of TNT (, February 14).

Equally intriguing is the fact that the FSB assigned two nicknames to the slain Khasan Mutaliev: Mustafa and Abdullah. Apparently, the Russian security services do not see the obvious difference between two completely different nicknames. In the given case, Khasan Mutaliev is the brother of Hussein Mutaliev, who was shot in front of his family and taken to North Ossetia on March 15, 2007. It is this circumstance alone that the Russian special services are basing their characterization of Khasan Mutaliev as a "leader of militants." By surveying the on-line forums of Ingush websites it is easy to see that such acts against young Ingush radicalize the republic's youth, who become more aggressive and seek revenge. That is why President Yevkurov ought to read what his young compatriots write on these web forums, because he would see that their posts are devoid of any mention of the corruption problem.

Ingush youth are joining the underground not out of some misplaced romanticism and not always to get revenge for the deaths of relatives, but because an increasing number of young Ingush are riding the wave of the ideological struggle against the federal authorities in Ingushetia.

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

The Changing Landscape of Islam in North Ossetia
By Mikhail Roshchin

One of the militants who participated in the September 2004 Beslan school hostage crisis-Vladimir Khodov-was a resident of the North Ossetian village of Elkhotovo. He was an ethnic Russian who converted to Islam and later worked as a cook in the detachment of Chechen militants led by Ruslan Gelaev. Khodov moved to North Ossetia in his childhood in 1979, when his mother, a resident of the Ukrainian town of Berdyansk, married Anatoly Khodov, an Elkhotovo native and an Ossetian. Who Khodov's real father was is unknown, but he was raised in an Ossetian village by an Ossetian stepfather. The village of Elkhotovo is predominantly Muslim. The local mosque was built in 1902. According to village residents, Anatoly Khodov was a former military man who was respected and whose family was relatively well-off.

The first criminal search for Khodov was announced in 1998, when he was accused of rape. After that, however, he frequently visited Elkhotovo, and it was during this period that he decided to enter one of the madrassas in Dagestan. After graduating from the madrassa, Vladimir Khodov underwent a metamorphosis and joined the radical Muslims, who are colloquially called "Wahhabis" in the North Caucasus. He visited his mother in Elkhotovo regularly and spent many hours at the mosque every day. Since 2002, Khodov has been accused of organizing a February 2004 bombing in Vladikavkaz and a failed bomb attack on a train in the vicinity of Elkhotovo in May 2004. Nonetheless, this had practically no impact on his life in his home village. He lived there, albeit not on a permanent basis, but still quite often. The neighbors maintained normal neighborly relations with him. Then the Beslan tragedy took place, after which the local court ordered his mother to leave the village (Yury Kvyatkovsky, "Istorya sela Elkhotovo" [The history of the village of Elkhotovo],

Today it is well known that some Ossetian Muslims have joined the ranks of the North Caucasian Muslim resistance movement, and there are sufficient reasons to believe that the North Ossetian jamaat Kataib al-Khaul is responsible for the assassination of Vitaly Karaev, the mayor of Vladikavkaz, North Ossetia's capital, on November 26, 2008 ( Soon afterwards, or, to be more precise, early morning on December 31, 2008, Karaev's predecessor as Vladikavkaz's mayor, Kazbek Pagiev, was assassinated as well (

Little is known about the Muslims of North Ossetia outside its borders. However, according to the assessments of experts (in particular, the Ossetian sociologists Timur Dzeranov and Olga Oleinikova), approximately 15 percent of the population of the republic is Muslim. The central city mosque of Vladikavkaz was built in the early 20th century. The funds for the construction of the mosque were allocated by the Azerbaijani oil magnate Murtuza Mukhtarov, who was married to an Ossetian woman with the last name of Tuganova. The mosque was built in the Egyptian style and it is unrivaled in the North Caucasus in terms of its architectural features.

During the Soviet period, all mosques on the territory of North Ossetia were closed, but during the religious renaissance that arrived during the perestroika years and which continued after the breakup of the USSR, the religious life of Ossetian Muslims experienced a revival. On the one hand, the older generation of Muslim traditionalists was becoming increasingly active and their most vivid representative was Dzankhot Khekilaev, who died in the summer of 2004 ( On the other hand, thousands of young men in North Ossetia began actively following Islam and, in particular, its Wahhabi variety. This, in turn, led to the formation of two parallel Muslim structures in the republic. The Muslim traditionalists founded the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of North Ossetia in 1990, while Muslim youth began to build their own organization, which they called the "Jamaat" and which was officially registered as the Islamic Cultural Center in 1996. The young people elected Ermak Tegaev to be the chairman or Emir of the newly created entity. It should be noted that 40-year-old Tegaev had a criminal past and had spent 12 years behind bars during the Soviet period.

The composition of the Jamaat, according to its Vice Emir and imam of the Vladikavkaz central city mosque, Suleiman Mamiev, who met with this author on a number of occasions, included the Muslim communities of Beslan and Elkhotovo. The Ossetian Jamaat closely cooperated with the Jamaat of Kabardino-Balkaria, headed by the charismatic imam Musa Mukozhev, who was popular among village youth and who later became an outlaw and one of the leaders of the armed Islamic opposition in Kabardino-Balkaria. Suleiman Mamiev told this author that the Muslim community of Vladikavkaz in the early part of this decade numbered about 500 members and that a majority of them was ethnic Ossetian. Before the tragedy in Beslan, Vladikavkaz was teeming with many Chechen and Ingush students, but after the tragic events of September 1-3, 2004, many were expelled from colleges and forced to leave the city.

According to the North Ossetian Muslim newspaper Da'ua (, on February 2, 2005, officers from the Directorate of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation for the North Ossetia, in a joint operation with operatives from Interior Ministry's Directorate for the Fight Against Organized Crime raided the house of the chairman of the Islamic Cultural Center, Ermak Tegaev. According to Da'ua, witnesses saw how law enforcement officers planted explosives in Tegaev's residence and, based on the alleged discovery of the explosives, he was later arrested. When Ermak Tegaev was detained, he was found to be in possession of 270 grams of plastic explosive and three electric detonators as well as religious literature and instructional materials, including video- and audio cassettes of extremist nature (

According to Ermak Tegaev's supporters, and also other Muslims, his detention represented a special action aimed at destroying the Ossetian Jamaat and Islamic Cultural Center. Later, in August of 2005, the Sovietsky District Court of Vladikavkaz sentenced Ermak to two-and-a-half years in a forced labor camp and during the year after that the imam of the Vladikavkaz city mosque, Suleiman Mamiev, immigrated to Turkey together with his mother.

In April of 2005, Murat-khaji Tavkazakhov, a resident of the Kartsa suburb of Vladikavkaz, which is predominantly populated by Ingush, became the head of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of North Ossetia. However, the ethnic Ossetian Tavkazakhov failed to improve Ossetian-Ingush relationships within the Muslim community of Ossetia. His close ties to the Ingush caused constant dissatisfaction among Ossetian Muslims ( In addition, many Muslims suspected him of being corrupt and misappropriating funds pouring in from various Muslim foundations and charities that support Islam in Ossetia.

In February 2008, Ali-khaji Evteyev was elected the new mufti of the Spiritual Directorate of Muslims of North Ossetia ( He was born in Moscow in 1974 in an ethnically mixed family: his father was Russian, while his mother was Ossetian (her maiden name was Komaeva) and was originally from a family of Muslims. In early childhood Evteyev moved with his parents to Beslan, where he grew up. At the age of 22, he accepted Islam and in the late 1990s he took active part in the creation of the Ossetian Jamaat. As a matter of fact, he was among those who supported the election of Ermak Tegaev to the position of Emir. Later, in 2000, he became disillusioned with Ermak Tegaev and the Jamaat itself. He decided to travel to Cairo, Egypt, with Kumyks from North Ossetia. In Egypt he entered preparatory courses at the Muslim university of Al-Azhar, where he studied for four years [1].

In 2004, Evteyev made a small pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia and entered the International University of Medina. However, while studying in the Arab countries, he never lost touch with Ossetia. He visited every summer and in 2004 he became the deputy mufti of North Ossetia. When Ali-khaji Evteyev was elected the mufti, he was studying in Medina, but he took an academic leave of absence and decided to return. When he assumed the position of the head of the Spiritual Directorate of North Ossetia, Evteyev soon discovered that his treasury was empty and that he had to start from scratch [2].

In an interview with this author, the new mufti described his main task as uniting the Muslims of Ossetia. This implied the youth, which was previously oriented towards the Jamaat, and the supporters of traditional Islam, who are mostly representatives of the older generation. Ali-khaji's views are moderately Salafi. He is against the armed struggle of Muslims across the North Caucasus because it does not correspond with Sharia law, which must be understood not formally but in its totality. At the same time, a return to the roots, a rethinking of the Muslim worldview based on the experience contained in the Noble Quran and Sunnah, in Evteyev's view, will help the Muslims of North Ossetia to find their place in the modern world [3].

Not everyone is enthusiastic about this position. The muftis of neighboring republics in the North Caucasus do not interact with Evteyev and refuse to accept him into the ranks of the Coordinating Council of Muslims of North Caucasus. That is directly related to the fact that the rest of the muftis are followers of traditional Islam and, moreover, none of them received such a well-rounded Muslim education as Evteyev.

Despite the difficulties in recent years, which were primarily related to the unresolved Ossetian-Ingush conflict, the Muslim community of North Ossetia is gradually growing, and this should be mostly attributed to the influx of Ossetian converts. As was noted by this author during a trip to Vladikavkaz in the second half of November 2008, during the Friday prayer at the central city mosque, there were more people praying than in previous years and there were both men and women. The Ossetian Jamaat, which functioned legally in the past, now operates in the underground and from time to time informs the public about its existence by carrying out operations. The most recent occurred on February 13 of this year when a car belonging to a battalion commander of an armed detachment was blown up near the building housing the dormitory of the Military Prosecutor's Office in Vladikavkaz (

Mikhail Roshchin is a Senior Research Analyst at the Institute of Oriental Studies of the Russian Academy of Sciences.


1. Based on author's personal interviews with Ali-khaji Evteyev in November 2008 and interviews with people close to him.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid.