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Kadyrov's Account Of Killing Of IS Fighters In Grozny Less Than Convincing

  • Liz Fuller

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claps during celebrations marking the 63rd birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Grozny on October 7.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claps during celebrations marking the 63rd birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Grozny on October 7.

Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov's account of a special operation in Grozny on October 8 in which three (initial reports said four) militants were killed was, predictably, self-serving, not entirely credible, and left key questions unanswered.

According to Kadyrov, Chechen police and security personnel were aware that three fighters who had undergone training at a military camp in Syria run by the militant group Islamic State (IS) had arrived separately in Grozny with the intention of perpetrating a series of terrorist acts "during the holidays," meaning the celebrations on October 5 to mark Grozny Day and on October 7 to mark the birthday of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Kadyrov did not explain why, if they had been in Grozny almost a week, it had not proved possible to apprehend them earlier; why they failed to launch the planned attacks; or why, having failed to do so, they should have remained in the city.

Kadyrov said that the leader of the group, whom he identified as Shamil Chergizov, was killed in an exchange of fire when police flagged down his car to check his documents. The remaining two men were reportedly holed up in a nine-story apartment building in Grozny's Staropromyslovsky district, which was then surrounded by security personnel and stormed when they refused to surrender. The two were identified as Zelimkhan Bashanayev and Magomed Mazayev. How it proved possible to ascertain their identities so fast, given that they were almost certainly not carrying their own identity documents, is not clear.

Since the early months of this year, when it was reported that at least two prominent Chechen members of the Caucasus Emirate had switched their allegiance to IS, Kadyrov has repeatedly affirmed that IS stands no chance of winning popular support in Chechnya and any of its emissaries will be swiftly apprehended.

In February, however, IS sympathizers reportedly displayed the black jihadi banner in Kadyrov's home village of Khosi-Yurt and daubed on a fence the slogan (in English) "Khosi-Yurt is support ISIS."

According to RFE/RL's North Caucasus Service, rumors of an imminent attack in Grozny by IS had been circulating for some time, possibly spread at Kadyrov's behest.

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.