Gadji Makhachev, who is Daghestan's formal representative in Moscow, issued a statement
on October 18 distancing himself from comments he was quoted as having made at a roundtable discussion in Moscow two days earlier of the repeated incursions into Daghestan by Chechen militants in the summer of 1999.
RIA Novosti issued two separate reports late on October 16, one of which quoted Makhachev as having said at the roundtable that following the murder on June 5 of Daghestan's Interior Minister Lieutenant General Adilgirey Magomedtagirov, he had advocated recruiting the relatives of Interior Ministry personnel slain by the Islamic resistance to undertake revenge killings of militants "in accordance with the law of the mountains."
Makhachev is also said to have proposed forming self-defense detachments in every village to ward off militant attacks. That, Makhachev is quoted as arguing, "is the only way to restore order." It would simultaneously, he pointed out, furnish an occupation for unemployed young men who otherwise would spend the entire day sitting around playing cards.
The second report, judging by its title as quoted on October 18 by kavkaz-uzel.ru
, quoted Makhachev as criticizing the law enforcement agencies for their conduct of "special operations" against suspected militants. The victims of such operations are not infrequently posthumously proven to be innocent of any ties with the insurgents. Both those reports were subsequently removed from the RIA Novosti website.
RIA Daghestan then posted on October 18 a formal statement by Makhachev in which he admitted having had an "informal discussion" with one of the roundtable participants (whom he did not identify by name) in which he gave a negative assessment of what he termed attempts by religious extremists to exact revenge for their defeat in 1999. But he said no journalist was present during that discussion, and he expressed incomprehension how the media were tipped off about what he said.
Makhachev further affirmed that what Daghestan currently needs is not "retribution squads," but the "consolidation of all healthy forces" in the battle against terrorism and extremism. He also denied having expressed any "blanket criticism" of the law enforcement agencies.
Makhachev said he proposed (whether during the roundtable or the subsequent conversation is not clear) that those Daghestanis who played an active role in repelling the Chechen incursions in 1999 be co-opted to inculcate a sense of patriotism in the younger generation, who might otherwise fall under the influence of the radical Islamic resistance. He further argued against declaring a republic-wide counterterror operation, and accused those who advocate doing so of seeking to "destabilize the situation."
Whether the statements RIA Novosti attributed to Makhachev were partially true, and if not, whether their publication was a deliberate attempt to discredit him, and to what end, remains unclear.