The role of military factor in the region is growing
There is not a single day on the North Caucasus, when no incident happens. The zone of unstability here is expanding, and the inter-ethnic contradictions are growing. We notice that the terrorist acts, kidnapping, struggle for power are to some extent associated with the Army.
Here is the chronicles recent of incidents.
On May 15 soldier of Interior Forces died from electric shock at the post for guarding of an important object in the village of Alexander Nevsky. It is not ruled out that his death has to do with the actions of religious extremists.
On May 9 serviceman of the Caspian Flotilla, Captain of the Third Rank Andrei Ostranitsa was kidnapped. At present he is in Chechnya, and the ransom of $30,000 was demanded for him.
On May 17 agents of Dagestani special services confiscated the lot of books, calling for the violent overthrow of the Constitutional regime. According to the agents, this was a kind of surprise for them. The search in the house of a resident of one of Dagestani districts, bordering Chechnya, was conducted according to suspicion that he was involved into a terrorist act. Nothing is reported about his personality, besides that he was known as an adherent of Vahhabiyah. The title of confiscated books (more than two hundred copies) is “Jihad, or how one can become immortal.” Their author Magomed Tagaev is searched for by the law enforcement agencies for writing and distribution of the books of this kind a few years ago. He is accused of the calls for the violent overthrow of the Constitutional system and kindling of the inter-ethnic and inter-religious hostility. The author is well known to the law enforcement agencies. In 1970’s Tagaev was convicted for the anti-Soviet propaganda. He currently resides in Chechnya. He calls himself Commander of the Dagestani Guerrilla Army of Imam at the public-political union of the Caucasus Confederation. The name of the underground publishing house, Iskra (Sparkle, the name of the Russian revolutionary newspaper of the beginning of the century, which had the motto “From a sparkle the fire shall start”- translator’s note).
On May 18 an attempt of a terrorist act was made near Kaspiysk. Dagestani branch of the Federal Security Service reported that recently the army sappers extracted the remotely controlled handicraft explosive device with the power of around four kilograms of TNT. It is said that the device could have been used both against the Russian militaries (the road, where the device was planted, comes to one of the military units), and for the director of the stone-cutting plant, located nearby, who is a deputy of Dagestani People’s Assembly. There is also another version, that is the explosion of the local gas pipeline.
The situation in the republic was destabilized on May 14-16 because of the second round of elections of the republic’s President. In the elections participated two candidates, who passed the first round: Mayor of Cherkessk Stanislav Derev (ethnic Circassian) and former Ground Forces Commander general of the Army Vladimir Semenov, born in Khurzul village (his father is Karachai). Law enforcement agencies of Karachaevo-Cherkessia say that the election campaign was outstanding by the activation of “propaganda extremism.” Fourteen terrorist acts were organized with use of explosives, grenades and Molotov cocktail against the proxies and staffs of both candidates. Representatives of the republican Interior Ministry reported that not a single terrorist action resulted in human losses, but the houses of the proxies and buildings, where the electoral staffs were located, suffered significant damage. Legal procedures were started and are being investigated, regarding every terrorist act. On the eve of the elections all polling stations were guarded by militia around the clock. In the cities, mountain villages and villages on the coast of Kuban River the law enforcement units were reinforced. However this did not help, and the conflict started expanding. When it was announced that General Semenov won the elections, on May 17-18 the unsanctioned meeting with thousands of participants was conducted in Cherkessk. “If results of the second tour are not cancelled, Circassian people will be unable to live in the same republic with Karachai people, and will separate themselves from them,” it was announced at the Central Square of Cherkessk, where the meeting of supporters of Derev was organized.
Only when on May 18 the meeting of acting Premier Sergei Stepashin with Derev and Semenov was conducted in Moscow, accompanied with signing of the statement by both candidates on coordination of efforts in maintenance of inter-ethnic accord in Karachaevo-Cherkessia, the tension was eased.
On May 16 at 6 a. m. local time a terrorist act was committed in Vladikavkaz against the residents of Sputnik military installation (in the eastern part of North Ossetian capital). Three powerful explosions have killed four people. Later an eight years girl died in the hospital. In addition around 50 people received wounds and concussions. One of the three destroyed houses cannot be repaired, and the other two need capital repair. Examination of the garrison’s residential houses resulted in discovery of another explosive, which was liquidated. Sputnik is located not far from the garrison’s headquarters, belonging to the 58 th army, and has existed for several decades. Meanwhile it were primarily military pensioners and their families who resided in Sputnik. Thus a version of the revenge of Chechen militants to the Russian officers, who fought against them, is not confirmed. Those, who planted the explosive in the basements of the houses knew for sure that only the servicemen, who had retired a long time ago, live these houses.
Public relations service of the North Caucasus Military District does not rue out that explosion of the houses was intended for destabilization of the situation in the region and is connected with the similar terrorist act, which occurred on the market of Vladikavkaz on March 19. According to Major General Vladimir Bezugly, Director of the North Ossetian branch of the Federal Security Service, specialist from Moscow are currently classifying the types of explosives, used in Vladikavkaz. There are the necessary witnesses, who will assist the investigators.
Taymuraz Mamsurov, Premier of North Ossetia, announced that the main objective of the terrorist act was the spawning of chaos and uncertainty among the republican population. North Ossetian President Alexander Dzasokhov called on the population to be quiet and patient. Guards of the administrative border of the North Ossetia were reinforced, as well as the guards of all most important economic objects. The transit automobiles are thoroughly examined at the main highways of the Caucasus, the Military Georgian Road and the Transcaucasian Highway. Special attention is focused on guarding of the military depots.
The military installation is guarded by reinforced militia and Army units. The residents of the damaged houses were temporarily accommodated in tents and barracks of the local tank regiment. Operational staff for assistance to the terrorist act’s victims is headed by Lieutenant General Anatoly Sidyakin, Commander of the 58 th army. Deputy Director of the Federal Security Service Vladimir Pronichev (who coordinates activity of the investigating group for the search and detention of terrorists) reported to the journalists that the investigators are examining a certain circle of persons of one of the criminal groups, the manner of whose actions is similar to that of the actions of terrorists in Vladikavkaz. According to him, the law enforcement agencies of the federal center and North Caucasus republics take the measures for stabilization of the situation and hindering of the extremists activity. They work hard to struggle against the terrorism.
Investigation of some explosives demonstrated that the terrorism in Russia does not have any ethnic character. In the Dagestani terrorist acts, for example, residents of Russia, Ukraine, Dagestan, Baltic republics and Chechnya were noticed. The gangsters, who kidnap people for ransoming, also belong to different ethnic groups. Overall, according to Pronichev, the criminal activities in the North Caucasus are interconnected: from oil products stealing to weapons sale and kidnapping. The law enforcement agencies of North Ossetia arrested a seller of explosives in Sputnik military installation. Plastit (very powerful plastic explosive) was confiscated from him. In addition three servicemen of the 58 th army and other units were arrested, from whom weapons and explosives were confiscated.
It is interesting that all these explosives occurred at the moment when Duma deputies in Moscow were debating impeachment of the President and the fate of the new Premier was being defined. Meanwhile, despite that the extremism in the North Caucasus is growing, the military units, concentration of which is the highest in the North Caucasus in comparison to the other regions, still serve as the real barrier in the path of instability spreading. It is the military factor which currently hinders development of the inter-ethnic and centrifugal tendencies in South Russia. However this cannot go on forever. Only development of the socioeconomic sphere can evidently resolve the local conflicts. However this may happen not earlier than the crisis disappears all over Russia and the central power is stabilized in Moscow, that is after election of the new Duma and President.