Columbia International Affairs Online: Policy Briefs

CIAO DATE: 04/2009

North Caucasus Weekly - Volume X, Issue 11

March 2009

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


* Four Militants Killed in Kabardino-Balkaria
* Militants and Security Forces Battle in Dagestan
* General Asks Chechens to Inform on Rebels
* Briefs
* Ingush Insurgency Approaches Major Crossroads
By Mairbek Vatchagaev
* Exclusive Interview with Anzor Astemirov, March 2009
By Fatima Tlisova

Four Militants Killed in Kabardino-Balkaria

The Associated Press (AP) reported on March 19 that four gunmen were killed during a three-hour gun battle with police in Kabardino-Balkaria. Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 19 that the shootout took place in the town of Baksan, which is located 24 kilometers northwest of Nalchik, the republican capital, after the militants were discovered in a private home. According to the website, only two suspected militants were killed in the shootout.

AP quoted federal Interior Ministry officials as saying that police used anti-tank grenades to destroy the house, killing four gunmen inside. State-run Channel One TV, citing a local Federal Security Service (FSB) official, reported that two militants were killed and that extremist Islamist literature was found in the destroyed house.

Also on March 19, Kabardino-Balkaria's Interior Ministry reported that security forces had discovered and destroyed two hidden militant "bases"-one for winter, the other for summer-in a wooded area several kilometers from the village of Kishpek. The "bases" consisted basically of camouflaged dugouts with space for 8 to 12 people, Kavkazky Uzel reported. In addition, Itar-Tass reported that security forces found a hidden food storage site for militants in a wooded area two kilometers from the village of Gerpegezh in Kabardino-Balkaria's Chereksk district.

Last month, Interior Ministry troops shot and killed seven suspected militants during a firefight in the Chereksk district. reported that among the slain militants were a rebel field commander, Zeitun Sultanov, and "one of the Khamukov brothers," who was wanted on suspicion of involvement in the murder of nine hunters and forest rangers in Kabardino-Balkaria in November 2007 (North Caucasus Weekly, February 12; November 8, 2007).

Militants and Security Forces Battle in Dagestan

RIA Novosti reported on March 19 that a police officer was killed when his patrol car came under fire on the evening of March 18 in Dagestan's Derbentsky district, near the border with Azerbaijan.

Kavkazky Uzel reported on March 19 that four servicemen were wounded during a special operation on the outskirts of the village of Kakashura in Dagestan's Karabudakhkentsky district, 30 kilometers south of the capital Makhachkala, where a group of 10 to 15 militants were reportedly blockaded. Three law-enforcement officers were hospitalized with light wounds. A helicopter gunship gunner-radio operator from the interior ministry's internal troops reportedly suffered a head wound. Itar-Tass reported that there were also casualties among the militants, but there was no information about how many.

RIA Novosti on March 19 quoted Dagestani Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky as saying that an "intense" battle was underway, with exchanges of fire from grenade launchers and flame-throwers, and that the militants were refusing to surrender. He also said that a helicopter gunship, which had been providing air support for the ground operation, had to pull out and land because its gunner-radio operator had suffered a head wound.

Kavkazky Uzel on March 18 quoted Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgerei Magomedtagirov as saying that a special operation launched in the village of Gubden that morning would continue until militant leader Magomedali Vagabov, a Gubden resident, was liquidated and his group came out of the woods. Earlier, Dagestan's Interior Ministry announced that the special operation would continue for around two months.

Itar-Tass on March 18 quoted Dagestani Interior Ministry spokesman Mark Tolchinsky as saying that Magomedtagirov and Dagestan's prime minister, Shamil Zainalov, had met with village and district residents on March 17, and that the local population "demanded authorities terminate the gang which had been giving it a hard time by terrorist attacks, murders and other serious crimes."

The website on March 18 quoted Magomedtagirov as saying during a meeting with inhabitants of the village of Gurbuki, located several kilometers from Gubden, in reference to the rebel group headed by Vagabov: "We do not plan on preventing the inhabitants from living normally, but we will leave from there only after we've put an end to that group." The RIA Dagestan news agency reported that during the meeting in Gurbuki, the situation in Dagestan's Karabudakhkentsky district was discussed, as well as issues related to cooperation between the local population and the law-enforcement bodies.

Itar-Tass reported that "no information" was available about the number of gunmen from Vagabov's group operating not only in the Karabudakhkentsky district, but also in the Sergokala district. For that reason, the news agency reported, the law-enforcement bodies launched an operation of "wide scope" and set up a field camp near Gubden for OMON special task police units and interior ministry internal troops.

A month ago, on February 18, militants shot up a base station of the Megafon mobile phone operator in Karabudakhkentsky district, causing around $1 million in damage. According to Dagestan's Interior Ministry, the attack was carried out by militants belonging to Vagabov's "illegal armed formation." Vagabov and members of his group are on the Russian and international wanted lists for dozens of crimes, including the murder of law-enforcement personnel.

General Asks Chechens to Inform on Rebels

The commander of the United Group of Forces in the North Caucasus, Lieutenant General Nikolai Sivak, delivered a message to the Chechen people on March 18, asking them to inform authorities about rebel plans and thereby avert attacks. "Law enforcement officials are hoping to receive first-hand information from locals, which will help avert sabotage and terrorist acts and curb militants' plans to destabilize the situation in the regions," Interfax quoted him as saying in the address. Sivak added that police and other law-enforcement bodies and military commandant offices have hotlines for people to call and that the National Anti-Terrorism Committee had ordered a range of informational and promotional events, including a public service announcement, the distribution of fliers drafted by the security agencies and various events at educational institutions and job sites.

"The ideologists of extremism on the Internet are disseminating various calls, addresses, or declarations calling for a ‘holy war', and essentially to chaos and self-destruction," Sivak said. "Foreign centers which are trying to run conflicts do not like how Muslims wish to be part of Russian society, their desire to be proud to feel part of a great country."

Kavkazky Uzel on March 18 quoted an unnamed Chechen human rights activist as saying that Sivak's appeal to Chechens was evidence of "nervousness and apprehension on the part of the Russian military command concerning the armed formations active in the republic." The activist added: "After nine years of war and many declarations of victory, to ask the population to inform the military and police about the militants' plans looks strange, at the very least. Either some kind of information trickled in to the military about plans by the leaders of the armed underground in the coming months (and we all know well that with the arrival of the spring-summer season, the militants significantly step up their activities), or the Russian command and special services don't know anything, and it is precisely that uncertainty which is alarming them."

For his part, Aleksandr Bastrykin, the head of the Investigations Committee of the Prosecutor-General's Office, said on March 18 that law-enforcement agencies have managed to reduce the rate of terrorist and extremist attacks and crimes in the North Caucasus by 43 percent in the first two months of this year compared to the same period last year. Bastrykin made the claim at a conference in Nalchik, Kabardino-Balkaria, devoted to summing up the work of the investigative bodies in the North Caucasus.

Meanwhile, a police lieutenant was wounded when unidentified gunmen fired at his car in the village of Ekazhevo, in Ingushetia's Nazran district, Interfax reported on March 16. Also on March 16, a spokesman for Ingushetia's Interior Ministry told Interfax that an improvised explosive device had been found amid the ruins of a sauna in Nazran that was destroyed by fire on March 13 and located next to a kindergarten. The device, consisting of a hand grenade attached to a mobile phone, was destroyed in a controlled explosion.

The relative of a police officer was wounded when a bomb went off as he was starting his car in the village of Nersterovskaya in Ingushetia's Sunzha district on March 15, Interfax reported. On March 14, the website reported that the police department in the village of Troitskaya in Ingushetia's Sunzha district came under fire from a grenade launcher, with one shell hitting the building and another missing and hitting a gas pipe. On March 13, a traffic police officer was wounded when his car came under fire in Ekazhevo. That same day, reported that two powerful blasts took place in the village of Ordzhonikidzevskaya, also in the Sunzha district. Also on March 13, a statement posted on the Kavkaz-Center website claimed responsibility for the killing the previous day of an officer of the main criminal investigation department of the Southern Federal District, identified as Amerkhan Tatiev. Interfax reported that the victim was a search operations unit officer from the federal Interior Ministry's central department for the Southern Federal District, and that he was killed when his vehicle was fired on in Ordzhonikidzevskaya.

In Chechnya, an interior ministry serviceman was killed when he stepped on a mine during mine disposal activities in Tsentoroi, in the republic's Kurchaloi district, Interfax reported on March 17. That same day, the interior ministry's department for Chechnya reported that three men had been detained on suspicion of helping "illegal armed groups," including a man suspected of having provided the group led by the late Arab Chechen rebel field commander Khattab with food and medicine in 2000. The latter detainee is also accused of having helped transport wounded rebels in his car from the Vedeno district to the Nozhai-Yurt district.

Interfax reported on March 16 that a man who had been kidnapped by a group of armed men near the village of Roshni-Chu in Chechnya's Urus-Martan district was found dead with two gunshot wounds in the head. The man was hunting with a friend in a wooded area when he was abducted by five unidentified assailants.


Prosecutors in Ingushetia Order New Probe into Yevloev's Death

Prosecutors in Ingushetia have ordered a new investigation into how opposition website founder Magomed Yevloev was shot and killed in police custody last August 31. Reuters on March 16 quoted Musa Pliev, a lawyer for the Yevloev family, as saying the prosecutor's office in Ingushetia has launched a criminal investigation into the abuse of office during Yevloev's unlawful detention. The administration of Ingushetia's previous president, Murat Zyazikov, had claimed Yevloev was killed accidentally when he tried to grab a police officer's gun. Pliev, who is an aide to Zyazikov's successor, President Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, told Reuters that the new probe will "aim to establish the persons who participated in his detention, as well as those who sanctioned his transportation to a police station." Yevloev's family and other opponents of Zyazikov accused the former Ingush president and other top officials of his administration of being behind Yevloev's murder.

ChRI Denies Zakaev Feared Traveling to Belgium Might Lead to Extradition

The press service of the separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria (ChRI) government posted a statement on the Chechenpress news agency's website ( on March 18 denying European and Russian media reports that Akhmed Zakaev, the London-based ChRI prime minister, refused to participate in a session of the European Parliament in Brussels over fears the Belgian authorities could extradite him to Russia. The ChRI government's press service said that the question of creating a European Parliament initiative group for "the right of the Chechen people to self-determination" was discussed in the European Parliament with Zakaev's participation last year and that Zakaev and members of the proposed initiative group met in February and decided to reschedule its founding conference until this autumn because of elections in the European Parliament this summer. ChRI Interior Minister Usman Ferzauli attended a European Parliament meeting on Chechnya on March 18, Chechenpress reported. on March 17 quoted Russia's ambassador in Brussels, Vadim Lukov, as saying Moscow expected Belgian authorities not to let Zakaev into their country. Meanwhile, Chechen Parliamentary Speaker Dukuvakha Abdurakhmanov on March 19 strongly condemned the European Parliament members's plan to create an initiative group on Chechen self-determination, telling RIA Novosti that the Chechen people "have not asked anyone to solve non-existent problems on its behalf."

Suspect in Israilov Murder Released in Austria

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported on March 16 that Austrian authorities released a Chechen man from custody who had been detained in connection with the murder of former Kadyrov bodyguard Umar Israilov in Vienna last January because there was not sufficient evidence to hold him. Police detained eight people in connection with the murder and, according to AFP, three are still being held in Austria, including a Chechen man identified as Otto K. who is suspected of having helped the killers after the January 13 assassination. Another suspect, 31-year-old Chechen Turpal Ali J., has been held by Poland since February 19 and Polish authorities will reportedly rule on his possible extradition to Austria by the end of the month. Austrian officials, however, doubt he fired the deadly shots, AFP reported.

Chechnya Reportedly Behind on its Electricity Bill

Reuters reported on March 18 that Chechnya has not paid its electricity bill for months and cited industry officials as saying that this was a sign that Moscow, in response to the economic crisis and the sharp drop in oil revenues, is beginning to reduce subsidies. The news agency quoted Ilyas Edilgiriev, Chechnya's deputy finance minister, as categorically denying that the ministry owed any money to regional power supplier Nurenergo or any other Russian electricity firm. Industry officials, however, told Reuters that Chechnya was refusing to pay, leaving no alternative to cut-offs unless it changed its policy. Khalid Magomadov, the head of the regional power supplier, Nurenergo, told Reuters that the money owed for electricity has topped 2.2 billion rubles ($63.71 million) in Chechnya and that cutting power "is not a threat, it is a tangible reality."

Ingush Insurgency Approaches Major Crossroads
By Mairbek Vatchagaev

Militant actions in Ingushetia increasingly are bearing the signs of an uncompromising struggle against the authorities. At times, the news reports from this republic resemble wartime chronicles. The daily news from Ingushetia in the Russian mass media is filled with reports of armed assaults, explosions and attacks on the law enforcement structures.

Against this background, the president of Ingushetia, Yunus-bek Yevkurov, who was appointed to this position by the Kremlin in late October 2008 and who is a former career military intelligence official, still has not determined his tactics with regard to the processes that are unfolding there. In the eyes of the public Yevkurov's image is Janus-like, two-faced: on the one hand, he visits mosques, meets the population and interacts with human rights advocates; on the other, he speaks in military jargon when he accuses parents of failing to exercise control over their children who allegedly have joined the militants and, in doing so, he begins to resemble Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.

In his public statements at the beginning of his presidential term, Yevkurov emphasized anti-corruption initiatives in the republic and attempted to explain to the befuddled Ingush that all social ills were allegedly rooted in the corruption of authorities. To an ordinary Ingush resident, it was not quite clear how the anti-corruption struggle can influence those who carry out armed assaults and attacks on the representatives of law enforcement structures and clerical establishment across the republic (

According to President Yevkurov, another equally important destabilizing factor in the republic was the problem of blood feuds. According to unofficial sources (, close to 180 families in Ingushetia are engaged in blood vendettas. Even though this factor is not decisive, it has always been present in both Chechen and Ingush societies. This is an entirely autonomous dimension of the conflict and President Yevkurov has very little to hope for in positive results. Such disputes, when they are solved by pressure from the authorities, always have a tendency to smolder in society until an opportune moment arrives for them to reemerge again. The vendetta is not taken into consideration by the armed underground because it views the assassination of a state bureaucrat or an employee of the interior ministry or the Federal Security Service (FSB) as falling outside the category of blood revenge and, on the contrary, as being mandatory for any jamaat member. Thus, the concern over the proliferation of blood feuds represents more of a positive public relations campaign for President Yevkurov rather than a genuine desire to solve the problems in the republic.

On March 7-8, 2009, while visiting Kadyrov and celebrating Prophet Muhammad's birthday, Yevkurov could not help but notice the visible well-being prevalent in Chechnya, and may have concluded that it does not matter by what methods and means one achieves the appearance of stabilization, even if that implies imposing a blockade on media access to the republic and prohibiting journalists from operating in the region without an FSB escort. It appears that the president of Ingushetia thought he should learn quite a bit from Kadyrov.

Yevkurov is already trying to implement the results of this sort of personal bonding. During the live local Ingush television broadcast on March 10, President Yevkurov's position was delivered in explicitly harsh tones. He no longer sought the sympathy or understanding from the population. He already felt confident and ready to propose to the federal center concrete steps for decreasing the tensions.

Precisely here is where Chechnya's influence is definitely noticeable. Or to be more precise, it is noticeable among those who advise Yevkurov, because he decided to follow the well-trodden path of the Chechen president. This includes a declaration of the amnesty for militants who have not been involved in homicides. The formula is essentially the same as the one that has been repeatedly used by Kadyrov in Chechnya. In practice, neither Ingushetia's Interior Ministry nor the FSB can reliably verify whether particular individuals were involved in assassinations because for some time now the armed underground has become a well-established and insular closed circle, which makes it impossible to know who is to blame for this or that militant action against Ingushetia's authorities.

The Ingush jamaat, unlike other detachments of the armed underground in the North Caucasus, does not like to advertise itself in video messages, which is a rare phenomenon. (The rare military operations captured on video camera more often represent joint actions with the Chechen jamaat, whose members usually post them on their websites.) The website of Ingushetia's Sharia Jamaat ( has only sparse information about the actions of the armed underground. One is left with the impression that this website functions autonomously from the jamaat itself. The website mainly features information of an ideological nature, including the speeches of Sheikh Said Buryatsky. Yet, reports about militant actions are detailed only in releases issued by the press-service of the jamaat, which are infrequent. Even statements on behalf of the leadership of the Ingush Jamaat are not signed by Emir Magas (Akhmed Yevloev), but by the Information-Analytical Department of the Headquarters of Armed Forces of Vilayet (region or province) Galgaiche (this is the word for Ingushetia in the Ingush language) of the Caucasus Emirate (

In other words, the personality of Magas is not advertised and his statements and speeches have not been publicized by the resistance for a long time. This invariably leads to the speculation that perhaps not all is well between Dokka Umarov and Emir Magas. Otherwise it is difficult to explain why while they are in such close geographic proximity there has been not a single case of them making a joint appeal since the establishment of the Caucasus Emirate.

Considering the aforementioned circumstances, the announcement of possible amnesty for the militants in Ingushetia will yield minimal results for the authorities there and its outcome will not be comparable to what Kadyrov achieved when he sometimes labeled militants-even those who only fought during the first military campaign in Chechnya.

Far more interesting and quite unexpected was the statement made by Yevkurov in his interview with Kavkazsky Uzel and on March 6 regarding those Ingush youth seen in Ingush society as adherents of Salafi teachings and, in particular, addressing the question of their persecution based on religious affiliation. President Yevkurov noted that he issued an order to stop the harassment of Ingush youth going to local mosques. At the same time the Interior Ministry has been ordered to stop registering those individuals who refuse to pray in the manner generally accepted in the Sufi tradition. According to Yevkurov, it is impermissible to accuse youth of belonging to the camp of Wahhabis simply because they think differently and not in accordance with the mores prevalent in the Ingush society. It is possible that this new statement will bring certain dividends to President Yevkurov. Up until now the interior ministry monitored all young people who outwardly differ from their peers (be it beards or refusal to participate in the supplemental prayer that follows the Friday prayer that is mandatory for all Sufi Muslims). It was this part of society that was constantly under pressure from special operations conducted by the FSB and Ingush Interior Ministry. The young men who were killed in these special operations were, as a rule, posthumously declared to have been members of armed underground, even though apart from possible sympathy, they probably had very little to do with it. All of this created the basis for popular discontent in Ingush society. If Yevkurov's statement is actually implemented, then there will be more successes from this than from the sham amnesty for the militants.

At the same time, it should be noted that President Yevkurov stated that he "harshly warned the Interior Ministry, and advised the Muftiyat, not to persecute under any circumstances" ( The Muftiyat formally exists as an independent Muslim body, although it will interpret a recommendation by President Yevkurov as an order to be fulfilled. This is one of the main peculiarities of the religious bodies in the North Caucasus, because they are very sensitive and responsive to the authorities. Thus, they are vehicles for spreading official policy in the region, which invariably produces resentment in a certain portion of the population.

Be that as it may, increasingly one can discern characteristics of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in the recent actions of Ingushetia's president. Only time will tell whether the results will be the same.

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

Exclusive Interview with Anzor Astemirov, March 2009
By Fatima Tlisova

Journalist Fatima Tlisova recently conducted an interview with Anzor Astemirov, who was the leader of Islamic militants in Kabardino-Balkaria and more recently became head of the Sharia courts for the Caucasus Emirate, the radical wing of the North Caucasian insurgency. The Jamestown Foundation believes the views of this controversial figure will be of interest to readers of the North Caucasus Weekly. However, publication of the interview does not in any way constitute an endorsement of the views expressed in it.


Exclusive Interview with Anzor Astemirov, March 2009

Anzor Astemir (ov), aka Saifullah (The Sword of Allah), 32, is the Amir (leader) of Kabarda, Balkaria and Karachai, also appointed as the head of the Court of Caucasian Emirate by Chechen leader Dokku Umarov. He is known as the developer and promoter of the idea of the Caucasian Emirate, which is considered by observers as the main political trend in the Caucasus today. Astemirov is a Circassian prince whose ancestors once ruled Kabarda.

--- Fatima Tlisova


TLISOVA: In a recent article in Central Asia-Caucasus Institute Analyst (VOL. 11 NO. 3, FEBRUARY 11, 2009) you were characterized as a new generation leader, more politician than military commander. The author gives credit to your intellectual leadership and high popularity among youth. He underlines that your political talent makes you the one with whom everyone who has interest in the North Caucasus must be prepared to deal in the near future. In comparison with Dagestan and Ingushetia, your vilayet remains more or less stable. Is that the sign of your military weakness or of your political strategy?

ANZOR: Most of the observers are far from understanding that the basic structure of our jamaats is different from the structures of many other well-known groups like Hamas etc. ... We do not have divisions in the leadership. Religious, political and military leadership is concentrated in the hands of Amir. He is responsible for decision-making.

As for stability in the vilayet, in the structure of the Emirate, we work according to a different program, which does not stipulate military activity at the current stage. We do not practice excessive violence except when necessary. We do not see enemies in the local population. We prefer to turn people toward the true path rather than to kill them. We know our enemy very well. These are the Russian Special Forces troops (GRU) based in sanatoriums of Nalchik, equipped with the best modern military and spy equipment and their agents camouflaged as locals. Of course they have set up a network of local traitors and informers. Nevertheless, we also have our people inside their locations and the names of the traitors do not remain a secret for long.

Besides, when writing about the situation, one must analyze the political and social environment of the region, which is not easy because information about the jamaats' military activity is the subject of a taboo in the media. As well as [information about] continued violations of the religious and basic human rights of local civilians. Although we provide more operations with more success than outside observers can see in news reports. A major portion of the population of so-called Kabardino-Balkaria and Karachaevo-Cherkessia either latently or openly supports us. The regime does not leave people any other mechanisms of resisting violence besides armed struggle. Thus, those who have decided to resist are joining our ranks. We also do have plans for future operations that I cannot announce yet.

TLISOVA: The word was spread that the GRU's hunters managed to entrap you into the ambush and directly attacked you not long ago. What happened?

ANZOR: We are at war, and it happens that we are ambushed. They opened extensive fire from 20 meters distance but I escaped without any damage. We all are in the hands of Allah. He takes care of his soldiers. Again, we are in a war.

However, not every loss of ours is due to military reasons. This winter we have lost a very dear fellow and long-time supporter-General Sultan Sosnaliev, known among the Caucasian underground as Abu Murat. Sultan came from a Circassian noble family. Officially, he was a high-ranking Russian army officer. After retirement he played an important role in organizing the Abkhazian Liberation Army that won freedom for Abkhazia and later was appointed as the minister of defense in the government of Abkhazia. Just a few people were aware of his friendship with guerrilla leaders such as Shamil Basaev and others. I was much younger than Sultan but we were very close as relatives and friends. I grew up knowing his mother and listening to his stories about the glorious resistance of our ancestors against Russian colonialism. Sultan was our brother by faith, our great advisor and strategist, for a long time. He dreamed to die on the battlefield but it was Allah's predetermination that Sultan passed away from a serious illness. It is an irreparable loss for the Caucasian Emirate.

TLISOVA: For many Circassian nationalists Sultan Sosnaliev was a role model. Even for opponents of the idea of resistance against Russia, not to mention those who absolutely do not accept the idea of the Caucasian Emirate. Your statement about Sultans' involvement can cause a storm of distrust.

ANZOR: Allah chooses who can fight for his faith and freedom and who can easily live enslaved. I fulfilled Sultan's last will.

TLISOVA: On March 10th the Ministry of Interior (MVD) of Kabardino-Balkaria announced the re-activation of the special operation called "Weapon." The point is that the MVD buys unregistered weapons from civilians. The announcement gave the results of similar previous operations. According to these reports, around 2 million rubles (about $800,000) were spent by the MVD during such operations in 2006-2008 operations ( Does your information coincide with that of the MVD?

ANZOR: It is true about the money but not about the results. The results are only on paper, are needed for propaganda purposes. People do not give the MVD anything except old rifles that have been hidden since World War II and that cost 10 rubles. They prefer to keep serious guns like pistols for their own safety. Besides, for a Makarov pistol, for instance, the MVD pays 10,000 rubles (around $280); we pay 35,000 to 55,000 [rubles] ($845-$1400) depending on their condition. Moreover- and this is noticeably important-in contrast to the MVD we never ask: where did you get this gun? Whoever he is, he does not risk becoming a subject of criminal investigation or even going to jail. As a result, we have the guns, the MVD spends the money.

TLISOVA: You must be wealthy enough to be able to give people more money for the guns than the MVD does. In his statement on January 29, 2009, the top commander of the anti-terrorism operation in the North Caucasus, General Arkady Yedelev, disclosed that guerilla groups in the region receive tremendous financial and supplemental support from Arab and Western countries ( Is that true?

ANZOR: Financial support from the West or Arab countries is an absolute lie and a myth. If we received any support-even meager, not to mention significant-we would be much more successful in all respects. We created and systematized internal support techniques, and Sharia gives us clear rules for collecting military zakat (taxes). We prepared regulations and orders, which were distributed on our territories by our naibs (deputy commanders). In today's situation, financial or any other types of support are no longer voluntary actions but fard ‘ain (compulsory) for every true Muslim because we are in war. We do not take anything that is above a fixed percentage rate, we do not rob poor families or those who suffered from the regime; instead, we support them as much as we can afford. For those who deny obeying the law, accepting their duty, we do use various penalties, including physical threats or even death. However, we prevent our people from unnecessary violations; we always recommend beginning with persuasion by the word rather than by the gun.

TLISOVA: On your new website ( there is posted a simplified project for the economic survival or even success of the Caucasian Emirate as an independent state. According to the project, the natural sources of the region are sufficient for it to become a wealthy state if they are handled intelligently. One of the basic elements of an economy is export or trade. You announced that the Caucasian Emirate will live under Sharia law. Does Sharia allow you to trade with non-Muslim states?

ANZOR: There is obvious theological evidence and examples from the life of the Prophet (salah Allah Alih Wa Salam) that allow us to have trade and economic relationships with any state that does not violate the rights of its Muslim citizens or is not in war with any Muslim country. As soon as the worst state in the world that we have to deal with will be not able to control the Caucasus anymore, the Caucasian Emirate will revive and prosper, Insha'Allah.

Fatima Tlisova is a Human Rights Fellow at the Carr Center for Human Rights Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University. Tlisova is an independent journalist from the North Caucasus.