Movladi Baisarov’s killing won’t be the last

Movladi Baisarov, shot dead in Moscow on November 18, didn’t have time to become a criminal – he was only a suspect in abduction cases. But he had already managed to demonstrate the full extent of his dislike for Ramzan Kadyrov, prime minister of Chechnya.

Movladi Baisarov, shot dead in Moscow on November 18, didn’t have time to become a criminal – he was only a suspect in abduction cases. But he had already managed to demonstrate the full extent of his dislike for Ramzan Kadyrov, prime minister of Chechnya. We’re taking another look at last week’s events because Baisarov wasn’t the last Chechen to be in opposition to Kadyrov, and most of them have long since moved to Moscow. If Chechens intend to continue conducting their political debates by means of automatic rifle fire, hand-grenades, and traffic jams on Lenin Prospect, this should give Muscovites some food for thought.

This joint operation by Moscow and Chechen police will go into the police search operations textbooks as an example of using the latest achievements in police techniques, accumulating the experience of fighting illegal armed formations in the North Caucasus. It turns out that the maximal effect can be achieved by a synthesis of existing tactics: traditional police tactics and tactics borrowed from the bandits of the Caucasus.

This operation was a curious blend of cautious, indifferent Muscovite bureaucracy and unrestrained Caucasus brutality.

Judging by the available documents, the Chechen police officers came to Moscow in order to kill the suspect, not detain him. If they had shot Baisarov in Grozny, the particulars of the incident would never have been made public. But the Chechens were cooperating with Moscow city police, whose role came down to doing the paperwork while the Chechens took action. And thanks to this dull bureaucratic paperwork, the details of the shooting have become available.

I’ll set out the materials in the form of a few brief lessons. This is what Chechens in Moscow have to fear if they feel they haven’t shown sufficient loyalty to Chechnya’s present-day authorities.

Lesson One: License to shoot

Bear in mind that no matter how menacing Ramzan Kadyrov and his subordinates may look on television, all of them are legal Russian citizens, restrained by the framework of the law, like any other citizens – whenever they’re in Moscow, at least. Chechen bluffs don’t work in Moscow. By late October, when speaking of Baisarov, senior Chechen officials – from Prime Minister Kadyrov to his interior minister – assured the public that Baisarov was on the wanted list for the murder of the Musayev family and a number of abductions.

But Baisarov was not declared wanted for murder. That was a bluff. Moreover, the search for him was launched on November 15, only three days before his death; not in October, as the Chechen authorities claimed.

And if any of you Moscow-based Chechens are suddenly declared wanted by the Interior Ministry of Chechnya, the first thing you should do is ascertain whether your name is in the federal Interior Ministry’s search database. Until your name is in there, no official measures will be taken against you, since the Moscow police have no legal grounds for going after you. And the Chechen police, although they may be glad to shoot you in the process of detaining you, won’t be able to touch you in Moscow either; officially, you’re still in the clear. Moreover, they won’t be able to get a warrant to tap your phone or search your home.

Baisarov’s name was placed on the federal wanted list the day after his detachment of armed men surrendered in the village of Pobedinskoe, Grozny district, Chechnya. In other words, serious efforts to find Baisarov only started after he lost any substantial armed support. Potential anti-Kadyrov opposition activists on a suicide mission should have a firm grasp of such factors.

Lesson Two: killing weapons

First of all, let’s look at who might become your official killer, and which agency or ministry they might belong to, and what kind of weapons might be mentioned in the report from the scene of the event. Let’s consider the report on Baisarov’s death while resisting arrest.

Baisarov was a counter-intelligence officer with a vast amount of combat experience. Oddly enough, the key role in the attempt to detain him was played by a 25-year-old police officer – not even a member of the OMON special squad, nor an operative from the Directorate for Countering Organized Crime, but an employee of an extra-ministry security service. If we analyze this, we can see that it was inevitable. According to unofficial reports, the Baisarov arrest operation was organized by Adam Deminlkhanov, deputy prime minister of Chechnya for security and law enforcement, former commander of the regiment that provides security for Chechnya’s oil industry. The very same oil regiment was part of the management structure of extra-ministry security services. Most likely, the young police officer in question, Sultan Rashayev, is personally loyal to Demilkhanov and prepared to carry out any order Demilkhanov may give. But that’s not the deciding factor here.

Once the license to shoot has been issued, a group of operatives may set out from Chechnya to Moscow. However, personnel from Chechnya’s OMON squad, or any other police unit providing physical protection for the operatives, will find it very difficult to enter Moscow carrying weapons. In any Russian region, that region’s police take a very dim view of armed personnel from any other region entering their territory. Chechnya’s special assignment personnel simply couldn’t produce any justification for entering Moscow. The Moscow police would say that they could take care of security for the Chechen operatives – using the Moscow OMON squad, for example. And bringing weapons into Moscow illegally is pointless as well. Whenever someone is killed resisting arrest, the prosecutors investigate whether the use of force was justified. If the prosecutors find a weapon for which there is no official permit, the leaders of Chechnya’s police force would be punished. People who resist arrest should be shot with official, lawful guns. And the most appropriate kind of gun, under the circumstances, is a gun carried by an extra-ministry security service employee.

An extra-ministry security service is probably the only kind of police unit that can send armed personnel anywhere in Russia without too many problems. All it needs to do is provide documents stating that they are security personnel escorting some sort of valuable cargo. No fuss, no authorization required.

The presence of Rashayev from the extra-ministry security service is indirect evidence that the Chechen police never intended to take Baisarov alive. They deliberately set out to kill him, preparing a gunman and a weapon for that purpose.

Some might ask why Baisarov wasn’t shot by an operative from the Chechen Directorate for Countering Organized Crime. Well, that’s simply because such work is beneath the dignity of Countering Organized Crime operatives. Like the rest of Chechnya’s security and law enforcement agencies, they’re entirely controlled by the Chechn government – but they won’t consent to do a dirty job like this, and it’s considered bad form to request it of them.

So if you, a Moscow-based Chechen, are killed, the reported weapon is likely to be an automatic rifle belonging to an extra-ministry security service. It might almost be the same service that provides security guards for your Moscow apartment.

In subsequent lessons, I’ll explain what the actual weapon used to kill you will be, and why it won’t be found at the scene of the event; and how you should dispose of your assets before your death; and what you should do to avoid being ambushed on Lenin Prospect, like the light-minded Movladi Baisarov.