THE LAST BATTLE OF TSAGORAEV’S GANG
Rossiiskaya Gazeta, June 27, 2001, pp. 1-2
Russian border guards have blockaded several dozen guerrillas in the Sharo-Argun Gorge on the border between Chechnya and Georgia.
According to Vladimir Makarov, deputy director of the Main Staff of the Federal Border Guard Service (FBGS), a gang of about 40 people, armed and dressed in camouflage, was besieged on Monday morning. The guerrillas tried to avoid a fight, and hid in the nearest grove. According to Makarov’s sources, these must be members of the gang of notorious field commander Tsagoraev. It is not ruled out that their leader is with them.
This operation is headed by Yevgeny Bolkhovitin, director of the North Caucasus Regional Department of the FBGS. The guerrillas have tried to break out several times, but failed.
They have been under attack by federal aviation and artillery for two days. Special detachments of the Defense Ministry have also been sent to assist the Itum-Kala border guard detachment.
According to our sources, ten guerrillas and one Russian servicemen have been killed, and eight Russian servicemen have been wounded. A Mi-8 helicopter was damaged and made an emergency landing, but its crew was not hurt.
Some news agencies have even reported that the federal forces have promised to display Tsagoraev’s body in a day or two. Perhaps this is wishful thinking, but it is clear that the federal forces have seriously taken up the cause of combating Chechen extremists. Moreover, representatives of the Chechen government have already announced that such operations will soon be carried out in some other areas of Chechnya where guerrillas are located.