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Balkar Militant Leader Promises Not To Target Officers Who Quit Police

The turbine hall of Baksan hydroelectric power station, damaged in an attack in July

The turbine hall of Baksan hydroelectric power station, damaged in an attack in July

Asker Jappuyev (nom de guerre Emir Abdullakh), leader of the Kabardino-Balkar-Karachai (KBK) jamaat of the North Caucasus insurgency, has warned his fighters that there will be no breathing space with the advent of winter. Jappuyev was speaking at the end of an undated meeting of amirs of various territorial sectors, five of whom are shown with him in a 27-minute video clip posted yesterday on, which bills itself as the KBK jamaat's official website.

Jappuyev extended special greetings to North Caucasus insurgency leader Doku Umarov, referring to him as "our emir," but did not again reaffirm his oath of loyalty to Umarov in the wake of the split within the insurgency ranks triggered by Umarov's apparent retraction in early August of his proposal to step down. He further assured the Kabardino-Balkaria Republic police (at least 25 of whom have been killed and 28 wounded by Jappuyev's fighters in the past six months) that they will no longer be targeted if they quit the Interior Ministry.

Jappuyev clarified in some detail the circumstances surrounding the recent controversial execution of a man long believed to have been a militant, but who investigations launched in 2007 reportedly revealed had systematically pocketed money given to him by believers to fund the insurgents' activities. Jappuyev stressed that the man in question had been condemned to death by the Caucasus Emirate's supreme Shari'a judge, Anzor Astemirov (Jappuyev's predecessor as KBK head).

Jappuyev's account of the investigation into the man's activities and the sting operation that incriminated him is imbued with the same compulsive need to justify the execution on moral and religious grounds as was his account in late May of the bomb attack on May 1 at the Nalchik racecourse that killed a World War II veteran, but not the militants' prime target, former Interior Minister Khachim Shogenov.

Jappuyev then claimed to have been informed that numerous police officers were so concerned by the militants' relentless targeting of them that they had wanted to quit but were deterred from doing so by pressure from their superiors. That suggests that demoralization among the KBR police has reached a level reminiscent of that in Ingushetia in the summer of 2008, when over 1,300 rank and file police officers submitted their resignations. A similar situation arose in August 2009 in Daghestan, when many police officers in Makhachkala spontaneously exchanged their uniforms for civilian clothes rather than risk death on the street at the hands of insurgency snipers.

Jappuyev assured police officers of immunity from attack if they quit the police force. All they have to do, he explained, is go to their local mosque at a time when there are many worshippers there and publicly announce they have resigned from the Interior Ministry. That offer suggests that Jappuyev is confident that his fighters are now competent to carry out more complex operations than simply shooting policemen on the street or attaching radio-controlled improvised explosive devices to their cars (the tactic used in most attacks they perpetrated over the past six months), or even the sabotage attack in July on the Baksan hydroelectric power station. It also testifies to the ubiquity and efficiency of his intelligence-gathering apparatus and/or to the willingness of the population at large to channel information to local insurgency commanders.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.