|The radicals’ envisioned Caucasus Emirate|
NORTH CAUCASUS (CHECHNYA, INGUSHETIA, DAGESTAN)
13 Killed in Blasts, Sieges, Shoot-Outs in North Caucasus; Dagestan Synagogue Bombed. In the Republic of Ingushetia, in southwestern Russia’s insurgency-ravaged North Caucasus region, four interior-ministry police were killed on October 3rd, in an incident that also wounded two others. All of the attackers—suspected of belonging to the Caucasus Emirate movement, which aims to carve an independent state out of Russia’s predominantly-Muslim border regions, managed to flee. Meanwhile, in neighboring Dagestan, also part of Russia and home to a Caucasus Emirate insurgency, a synagogue was damaged by a bomb planted on the night of October 3rd in Derbent, but there were no injuries. The same day, in Buynaksk, a grenade attack on an interior-ministry facility killed two police officers. Also in Dagestan, four rebels were killed by police on October 4th and the following morning, also in Buynaksk, police ended a siege of an apartment building where three rebels were barricaded by storming the entrances, killing all three. The Caucasus Emirate’s not-always-reliable website claimed that a battalion of 10 to 30 Emirate mujahideen ambushed “a whole squad of Russian terrorists from military intelligence” near Dattykh, Chechnya, on October 3rd, prompting a day of Russian air attacks on Chechen rebel positions but, miraculously, without a single rebel casualty. Curiously, no other news source has mentioned these events.
Zhirinovsky Demands Prison Terms for Trigger-Happy Dagestani Wedding Revelers. Russian hostility toward ethnic minorities from the Caucasus resurfaced in Moscow this week as Russia’s ultranationalist firebrand Vladimir Zhirinovsky, a member of Russian parliament for the misnamed Liberal Democratic Party, called for the imprisonment of wedding-party revelers from southwestern Russia’s Republic of Dagestan who caused a stir on September 30th when they celebrated by firing weapons into the air just outside the Kremlin on September 30th. The one Dagestani man charged was given the equivalent of a $60 fine. Initial reports of the incident said that the partiers were aiming their live fire at passing cars, but that turned out to be inaccurate. Nor was this among the more dramatic types of wedding celebration known in the predominantly-Muslim North Caucasus region, where elaborately staged and chillingly realistic “bride abduction” scenarios are sometimes acted out. Zhirinovsky called the gunfire incident and other such incidents “signs of banditry” and called for prison terms.
SOUTH CAUCASUS (GEORGIA, ARMENIA, AZERBAIJAN)
Gunfire Exchanged at South Ossetia–Georgia Border on Eve of Tbilisi Power Shift. Amid diplomatic tensions and back-and-forth accusations of military build-ups (reported on earlier in this blog) along the border between the Republic of South Ossetia and the country it unilaterally seceded from in 2008, with Russia’s military help, the Republic of Georgia, a South Ossetian border checkpoint came under live weapon fire on September 29th. South Ossetia’s security forces claimed that they arrested a Georgian interior-ministry official, Mogol Tomiashvili, in connection with the incident. A rifle and grenade launcher were seized from the official. Later, after Georgia’s aggressively anti-separatist president, Mikheil Saakashvili, was defeated in an election this week, the deputy speaker of the South Ossetian parliament, Yuri Dzitstsoity, predicted that, “after the departure of Saakashvili into oblivion,” the new Georgian regime, under Bidzina Ivanishvili of the Georgian Dream–Democratic Georgia party, would recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent.
Former Chechen Rebel Calls Lopota Gorge Siege Georgian “False-Flag Op.” A former Chechen separatist now allied with the Moscow-appointed authoritarian government of Russia’s reconquered Republic of Chechnya claimed this week that the murky Lopota Gorge siege in late August in a Georgian canyon bordering Russia’s Islamist-infested Republic of Dagestan (reported on at the time in this blog) was in fact a Georgian “false-flag operation” in which Georgia’s government killed its own anti-Russian saboteurs. The Georgian government’s position is that its interior-ministry forces ended a hostage crisis by killing eleven Islamists who had infiltrated Georgian territory from Dagestan. The Chechen self-proclaimed whistleblower, Khizri Aldamov, however, claims, “Georgian president [Mikheil] Saakashvili’s plan was to send his own guys across the border into Russia, not the other way round, and then shoot them. But there was no mission; this was a set-up.” He says the operation was meant to paint Russia as harboring anti-Georgian terrorists while at the same time eliminate a rogue force that “knew too much” about Georgia’s supposed program of training jihadists to wreak havoc in Russia’s North Caucasus region. (See another article from this blog looking at other allegations swirling around the Lopota Gorge events.)