Borozdinovskaya operation

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Rampage in Borozdinovskaya
Location Borozdinovskaya, Chechen-Dagestani border
Date June 4, 2005
Target Ethnic Avar village
Deaths At least one killed, 11 "disappeared"
Perpetrators Chechen GRU commandos
Motive Murder of a Chechen resident of the village

The Borozdinovskaya operation was a cleansing raid (zachistka, Russian: зачистка) by the ethnic Chechen unit Battalion Vostok of the Spetsnaz of GRU on the ethnic minority village of Borozdinovskaya in Chechnya near the border with the republic of Dagestan on June 4, 2005.

Borozdinovskaya is a predominantly ethnic-Avar (a Dagestani ethnic group) village in the Shelkovsky District of Chechnya. Its population in early 2005 was over 1,000 people. The 'sweep operation' took place after "a series of murders and armed attacks" in and around the village in May–June 2005, including a June 3 incident in which the father of a Vostok serviceman was shot and killed.[1] The raid prompted a mass exodus of almost the entire population of the village[2][3] and contributed to a political standoff in both Chechnya and Dagestan.[4] As a result, even some representatives of the Russian federal authorities—usually reluctant to denounce abuses by their forces—expressed outrage over the incident.[5]

Historical background[edit]

Historical relations between Avars and Chechens have been inconsistent. On one hand, conflict between Avars and Chechens is not just a recent phenomenon. Twice during the Middle Ages, the Avars tried to conquer the Chechens, meeting fierce resistance.[citation needed] More recently, in the 19th Century, the ethnic Avar Imam Shamil forcefully added Chechnya to his Caucasian Imamate.[citation needed] The Chechens tolerated this for a time because he was viewed as a lesser evil; the Avars and the Chechens had a common foe in Russia. Shamil's strict interpretation of Islam, however, led to conflicts not only with the Avar elite but with the Chechens as a whole.[citation needed] On the other hand, there has been considerable cross-cultural fertilization between Avars and Chechens; historically, they have been allies against Russians and, earlier, Mongols and Turkic peoples.

According to the residents of Borozdinovskaya, the ethnic conflict in the area began in the mid-1990s, during the time when many Dagestanis and ethnic Russians were being forcibly evicted[dubious ] from the Chechen republic, or otherwise pressured to leave by the poor economic conditions and destruction resulting from the First Chechen War.[citation needed] A local Avar strongman named Shapi Mikatov created an armed militia that effectively protected the village from what they called the 'Chechen gangs,' including the men of Sulim Yamadayev, by then the most powerful separatist warlord in eastern Chechnya.[citation needed] According to Hussein Nutayev, the pro-Russian head of Shelkovsky District in 2004, Mikatov's militia was rather "a criminal group we call the Avar jamaat ... headed by the infamous warlord Mitabov, who is accused of numerous murders and kidnappings."[2][6][7]

Mikatov was killed in 1998.[citation needed] The next year, the Yamadayev brothers changed sides in the conflict (as did Kadyrov) to lead the Vostok battalion for Russian military intelligence. Since then, the residents allegedly began to be targeted by pro-Moscow Chechen forces and the inter-ethnic tensions have escalated further since Chechen authorities began resettling displaced persons from the Nozhay-Yurtovsky District in the village.[2][6][7]

The cleansing operation[edit]

According to the official investigation, on June 4, 2005, around 80 pro-Russian Chechen soldiers of the special battalion Vostok (East), in two armored personnel carriers, several trucks, and cars, arrived in the village at 3:00 PM to perform a 'large-scale clean-up.' According to eyewitnesses, the operation was led by Khamzat (Hamzat) Gairbekov,[citation needed] also known as 'Beard,' who was the Vostok unit's intelligence chief.

Between 3:30 PM and 8:00 PM, the soldiers detained 11 people "suspected of having committed crimes": Abakar Aliyev, Magomed Isayev, Ahmed Kurbanaliyev, Magomed Kurbanaliyev, Eduard Lachkov (an ethnic Russian), Ahmed Magomedov, Kamil Magomedov, Said Magomedov, Shakhban Magomedov, and Martukh Umarov. None of them have been seen since.[8]

A 77-year-old man was killed, later found either gunned down or burnt alive, and about 200 men were also rounded up and herded into the local school's sports hall, where many were severely beaten. Four private homesteads were burnt down and cars, money, and other valuables were stolen from the village.[6][7][9]

Aftermath[edit]

At first, the pro-Moscow Chechen police officials said 11 guerrilla 'sympathizers' were detained and two insurgents killed in fighting. Later, the Russian military claimed the killings and abductions of civilians were committed by rebels later (after the Vostok troops had left the settlement),[8] and Sergei Surovikin, the commander of the 42nd Motor Rifle Division to which Yamadayev’s militia belonged, said the allegations were “groundless and aimed at destabilizing the political situation and staining the honor and name of the honest career officer and Hero of Russia, Sulim Yamadayev.”[2]

Most of the residents quickly packed up and crossed the border to Dagestan, where they set up a tent city near the town of Kizlyar.[2] There, they received support from the local Avar opposition and resisted attempts by the Dagestani OMON riot police to force them back into Chechnya.[4] The refugees eventually agreed to return after the Chechen government of Ramzan Kadyrov promised to search for the abducted villagers and pay compensation for the damage caused by the attackers.[3][5] Dmitri Kozak, the Russian presidential envoy to the Southern Federal District, met with the villagers and spoke about "an act of sabotage against the Russian state by extremists," promising an objective investigation to punish those responsible.[4][10]

On October 27, 2005, Mukhadi Aziyev, company commander of the Vostok battalion, was convicted by Grozny Garrison Military Court of "exceeding official authority" and given a three-year suspended sentence.[8] The fate of the abducted people was not established,[8] and a legal demand for compensation brought by villagers against the Russian Ministry of Defence was rejected.[11] In June 2007, the villagers held a 300-strong protest action in Dagestan.[12] In September 2007, the Caucasian Knot reported that more than 130 Borozdinovskaya refugees had begun to resettle in Kizlyar District.[13]

Colonel Sulim Yamadayev, commander of the Vostok battalion, had at first denied that his subordinates were involved in the raid.[14] Later, he admitted his servicemen's guilt, but said that the operation had been conducted without his knowledge.[8] In 2006 and again in 2008, during the conflict between Ramzan Kadyrov and the Yamadayev clan, Kadyrov used the case as an example of the crimes of the Vostok unit in his attacks on the Yamadayev brothers.[15][16]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Memorial details events in Borozdinovskaya, The Jamestown Foundation, June 30, 2005.
  2. ^ a b c d e A Terrorized Village in Chechnya Crosses the Border, The St. Petersburg Times, June 28, 2005.
  3. ^ a b Kadyrov bribes refugees to return to Borozdinovskaya, Prague Watchdog, June 30, 2005.
  4. ^ a b c Federal sweep in Borozdinovskaya creates serious crisis in Northern Caucasus, The Jamestown Foundation, June 30, 2005.
  5. ^ a b Russia: Officials Say Pro-Moscow Chechens Involved In Deadly Raid On Avar Village, RFE/RL, July 29, 2005.
  6. ^ a b c Chechnya: Does Outrage Over Borozdinovskaya Sweep Presage Change Of Russian Tactics?, RFE/RL, June 24, 2005.
  7. ^ a b c Chechnya: Fleeing Villagers Protest, Institute for War and Peace Reporting, June 30, 2005.
  8. ^ a b c d e Sentence for Borozdinovskaia passed in Chechnya, Caucasian Knot, October 27, 2005.
  9. ^ Whose side are you on?, The Guardian, September 16, 2005.
  10. ^ Russia: Scandal Brews Over Raid In Chechnya, RFE/RL/GlobalSecurity.org, June 23, 2005.
  11. ^ Analysis: Russian Defense Ministry Postpones Ruling On Controversial Chechen Battalion, RFE/RL, April 25, 2008.
  12. ^ Borozdinovskaya refugees hold protest meeting in Dagestan, Caucasian Knot, June 26, 2007.
  13. ^ "Caucasian Knot, 18 September 2007" (pdf). Russian Federation: Monitoring of IDPs and returnees still needed - A profile of the internal displacement situation. Internal Displacement Monotoring Centre. October 12, 2009. Retrieved September 10, 2012. 
  14. ^ Yamadayev denies involvement, The Jamestown Foundation, June 30, 2005.
  15. ^ Kadyrov (selectively) denounced disappearances, The Jamestown Foundation , April 20, 2006.
  16. ^ Vostok battalion military personnel request discharge - Kadyrov, RIA Novosti, April 17, 2008.