Chechen battalions slipping out of control
By Ruslan Isayev
CHECHNYA – No sooner had Moscow-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov managed to put his own man at the head of the Second operative-investigative bureau (ORB-2), thereby bringing the last armed unit not yet subordinate to him under his authority, than there were reports that another unit more loyal to him was now in his disfavour.
This was the Vostok battalion, controlled by the Russian Defence Ministry and staffed by Chechens under the command of former Ichkerian army brigadier-general Sulim Yamadayev. In recent weeks more than 20 men have quit the battalion – they all turned in their weapons and left. They did not just walk away, however, but are presently in the village of Dzhalka at the “oil regiment” base headed by the younger brother of Kadyrov’s right-hand man, vice-premier Adam Delimkhanov.
The ex-Vostok troopers are wanted by their recent colleagues for desertion, since they are in breach of their contract with the Defence Ministry. They do not dare to leave the base, as they seriously fear for their lives
The Vostok battalion is one of the most capable fighting units in Chechnya. It is almost entirely composed of amnestied ex-guerrillas, and it was partly because of them that Kadyrov senior was able to consolidate his power in the republic.
Not all is as it should be in another part of Chechnya, either. The second of the "Chechen" battalions, Zapad, declared a blood feud against those who opened fire on their colleagues in July of this year, when several men were killed as a result of a shoot-out between Chechen security and traffic police on the one hand and Zapad fighters on the other (see our report of June 20).
The battalion is under the command of Said Magomed Kakiyev, nicknamed "Baysangur“* because of his missing eye lost in an explosion during an assassination attempt against the life of Ichkerian President Dzhokhar Dudayev. After his men’s funeral, Kakiyev, who is the republic’s deputy military commandant, said the following: "We did not fight for the integrity of Russia as a great power, only to be humiliated and destroyed. I do not want to take further steps, but if some trouble starts, each of us must, as before, join the guard and stand as one. I assure you all that the blood of our comrades will be avenged." This cell phone video recording is now travelling all over Chechnya.
What Kakiyev meant by “trouble” is still unclear, but it is quite possible that his statement was a pre-emptive strike on his opponents and a new attempt to show his power, which the Chechen leadership would like to curb.
* Baysangur was the one-eyed lieutenant of the 19th century North Caucasus resistance fighter Shamil.
(D/T) RELATED ARTICLES:
· Five die in shoot-out between soldiers and policemen in Grozny (PW, 20.6.2007)