Situation in Chechnya heating up again

In Chechnya there has recently been talk of possible large-scale
attacks by separatist groups

CHECHNYA – Despite the apparent calm and serenity, the situation in
the Chechen Republic is starting to deteriorate. The local law
enforcement agencies and the military have significantly intensified
their activities.

Local residents say that at night there is a noticeably increased
presence of law enforcement officials on the streets of Grozny.
Military units have recently begun to set up mobile checkpoints on the
numerous bypass roads that skirt the Chechen capital, and these are
usually reinforced by armour. All of this is leading people to suppose
that a serious worsening of the situation in the republic may occur in
the near future.

“A few days ago I was returning to Grozny from the Achkhoi-Martanovsky
district with my nephew. We drove at night on the bypass road that
leads to Staropromyslovsky district, and came across a group of
soldiers. They were in Ural and UAZ vehicles, accompanied by an
armoured personnel carrier. They all wore masks,” says Alkhazur, a
49-year-old Grozny resident.

“They searched our Zhiguli automobile, including the entire passenger
space, the luggage, even under the seats. Then they took our passports
and checked them against some list,” he said. “When I asked why they
were doing this, one of them replied: `Your Dokka Umarov has just
received a large sum of money from abroad, and he’ll be up to
something now. So we’re getting down to work.’ After they’d searched
us, they let us go, adding a recommendation that we shouldn’t drive at
night.”

Meanwhile, reports are arriving from various parts of the republic,
particularly the mountainous part, that small groups of guerrillas
have been seen near population centres. A few weeks ago it was even
claimed that the separatists had set up their checkpoints in the
vicinity of one or two villages in the Grozny district. Mention was
even made of the village of Prigorodnoye, which is located just a few
kilometres south of the Chechen capital.

Another serious problem for the present Chechen government is the
situation created by the fact that many young men are joining the
ranks of the guerrillas. It is even claimed that dozens of law
enforcement officers have gone over to the separatists. Ramzan Kadyrov
recently stated that the reports of a mass enlistment of young Chechen
men in guerrilla units do not correspond to reality.

“Someone is deliberately escalating the situation by spreading rumours
that nearly a hundred men have joined the resistance. That is untrue,
and the Chechen authorities, the administration and the local police
should work to increase awareness among the people, ” he says. “On the
whole, it appears that these are men who have committed certain crimes
and are trying to evade justice. Some may be police officers, but
others are ordinary citizens.”

Nevertheless, the seriousness of the developing situation was
underlined on May 22 by an address broadcast on local television by
Chechnya’s Mufti, Sultan Mirzayev, who said that some two dozen young
men had joined the guerrillas in recent months, and that there would
be no amnesty for such individuals, who would “either find their
deaths in the mountains or spend their lives in jail.”

That the leaders of the Chechen separatists are serious in their
intentions can be seen in Ichkerian President Dokka Umarov’s widely
distributed appeal to members of the law enforcement agencies. In it,
the Ichkerian leader called on them to leave the service and return to
their homes, promising them an amnesty in exchange. Umarov plans to
deal summarily with those who do not comply.

The precise number of separatist guerrilla units operating in the
Chechen Republic still remains unknown. Different agencies and
authorities quote radically different figures. This spring, Ramzan
Kadyrov announced that there only a few dozen local guerrillas and a
couple of hundred Arab mercenaries were still active. Then a top
Russian general, deputy interior minister Arkady Yedelev, assessed the
strength of the Chechen separatist forces at about 450 “bayonets”,
divided into 37 “bandit groups”.

At the same time, the recently appointed President Ramzan Kadyrov
promised to “finish off” the resistance within two to three months.
The “counter-terrorist operation” was to all intents and purposes
complete. “I can state with complete confidence that the Chechen
Republic is the most stable region in Russia. These are not just
words, they are facts. Extreme situations may arise in any country –
in London, New York, Paris or anywhere else, but on the whole Chechnya
is stable,” Kadyrov said at a press conference in Grozny.

However, the optimistic statements by the republic’s leadership and
the Russian military about a “final victory” over the Chechen fighters
were, as the current situation shows, far from reality. The
separatists have not only recovered from severe losses last year (when
both Ichkerian President Abdul-Khalim Sadullayev and notorious
“Russian terrorist No. 1” Shamil Basayev were killed), but are also
ready for active operations. There have recently been regular reports
from the mountainous part of Chechnya about attacks on servicemen and
gunfights between small groups of guerrillas and members of the law
enforcement agencies.

“We have intelligence that a few weeks ago armed resistance groups
bought about 400 sets of uniforms, about half of which were police
uniforms. The guerrillas are probably planning to launch a series of
major attacks, disguising themselves as law enforcers or members of
government units. The law enforcement agencies have the situation in
the republic under control, but anything may be expected, ” a Chechen
police officer says.
In Chechnya there has recently been talk of possible large-scale
attacks by separatist groups

CHECHNYA – Despite the apparent calm and serenity, the situation in
the Chechen Republic is starting to deteriorate. The local law
enforcement agencies and the military have significantly intensified
their activities.

Local residents say that at night there is a noticeably increased
presence of law enforcement officials on the streets of Grozny.
Military units have recently begun to set up mobile checkpoints on the
numerous bypass roads that skirt the Chechen capital, and these are
usually reinforced by armour. All of this is leading people to suppose
that a serious worsening of the situation in the republic may occur in
the near future.

“A few days ago I was returning to Grozny from the Achkhoi-Martanovsky
district with my nephew. We drove at night on the bypass road that
leads to Staropromyslovsky district, and came across a group of
soldiers. They were in Ural and UAZ vehicles, accompanied by an
armoured personnel carrier. They all wore masks,” says Alkhazur, a
49-year-old Grozny resident.

“They searched our Zhiguli automobile, including the entire passenger
space, the luggage, even under the seats. Then they took our passports
and checked them against some list,” he said. “When I asked why they
were doing this, one of them replied: `Your Dokka Umarov has just
received a large sum of money from abroad, and he’ll be up to
something now. So we’re getting down to work.’ After they’d searched
us, they let us go, adding a recommendation that we shouldn’t drive at
night.”

Meanwhile, reports are arriving from various parts of the republic,
particularly the mountainous part, that small groups of guerrillas
have been seen near population centres. A few weeks ago it was even
claimed that the separatists had set up their checkpoints in the
vicinity of one or two villages in the Grozny district. Mention was
even made of the village of Prigorodnoye, which is located just a few
kilometres south of the Chechen capital.

Another serious problem for the present Chechen government is the
situation created by the fact that many young men are joining the
ranks of the guerrillas. It is even claimed that dozens of law
enforcement officers have gone over to the separatists. Ramzan Kadyrov
recently stated that the reports of a mass enlistment of young Chechen
men in guerrilla units do not correspond to reality.

“Someone is deliberately escalating the situation by spreading rumours
that nearly a hundred men have joined the resistance. That is untrue,
and the Chechen authorities, the administration and the local police
should work to increase awareness among the people, ” he says. “On the
whole, it appears that these are men who have committed certain crimes
and are trying to evade justice. Some may be police officers, but
others are ordinary citizens.”

Nevertheless, the seriousness of the developing situation was
underlined on May 22 by an address broadcast on local television by
Chechnya’s Mufti, Sultan Mirzayev, who said that some two dozen young
men had joined the guerrillas in recent months, and that there would
be no amnesty for such individuals, who would “either find their
deaths in the mountains or spend their lives in jail.”

That the leaders of the Chechen separatists are serious in their
intentions can be seen in Ichkerian President Dokka Umarov’s widely
distributed appeal to members of the law enforcement agencies. In it,
the Ichkerian leader called on them to leave the service and return to
their homes, promising them an amnesty in exchange. Umarov plans to
deal summarily with those who do not comply.

The precise number of separatist guerrilla units operating in the
Chechen Republic still remains unknown. Different agencies and
authorities quote radically different figures. This spring, Ramzan
Kadyrov announced that there only a few dozen local guerrillas and a
couple of hundred Arab mercenaries were still active. Then a top
Russian general, deputy interior minister Arkady Yedelev, assessed the
strength of the Chechen separatist forces at about 450 “bayonets”,
divided into 37 “bandit groups”.

At the same time, the recently appointed President Ramzan Kadyrov
promised to “finish off” the resistance within two to three months.
The “counter-terrorist operation” was to all intents and purposes
complete. “I can state with complete confidence that the Chechen
Republic is the most stable region in Russia. These are not just
words, they are facts. Extreme situations may arise in any country –
in London, New York, Paris or anywhere else, but on the whole Chechnya
is stable,” Kadyrov said at a press conference in Grozny.

However, the optimistic statements by the republic’s leadership and
the Russian military about a “final victory” over the Chechen fighters
were, as the current situation shows, far from reality. The
separatists have not only recovered from severe losses last year (when
both Ichkerian President Abdul-Khalim Sadullayev and notorious
“Russian terrorist No. 1” Shamil Basayev were killed), but are also
ready for active operations. There have recently been regular reports
from the mountainous part of Chechnya about attacks on servicemen and
gunfights between small groups of guerrillas and members of the law
enforcement agencies.

“We have intelligence that a few weeks ago armed resistance groups
bought about 400 sets of uniforms, about half of which were police
uniforms. The guerrillas are probably planning to launch a series of
major attacks, disguising themselves as law enforcers or members of
government units. The law enforcement agencies have the situation in
the republic under control, but anything may be expected, ” a Chechen
police officer says.

By Umalt Chadayev 

Source: Prague Watchdog
Date: 05 Jul 2007.

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