Saturday, August 27, 2016

Caucasus Report

Mastermind Behind Georgian-Chechen Shoot-Out Still Not Identified

On August 30, 2012, police block a street in the Georgian village of Lapankuri Georgian police block a street in the village of Lapankuri near Daghestan on the night of what was initially described as an armed incursion from the restive Russian republic.
On August 30, 2012, police block a street in the Georgian village of Lapankuri Georgian police block a street in the village of Lapankuri near Daghestan on the night of what was initially described as an armed incursion from the restive Russian republic.
Last week marked the first anniversary of what has since been revealed as an abortive covert operation, apparently masterminded by the Georgian Interior Ministry, which resulted in a gunfight that cost the lives of 11 young Chechen fighters, two Georgian Army servicemen, and a military doctor.

Coinciding with the anniversary of this event, the Georgian news portal Primerinfo has published what it says is a translation into Georgian of a letter addressed to one of its journalists from an unnamed Chechen who survived the shoot-out and has since left Georgia.

The Chechen accuses three senior Georgian officials – including former Defense Minister Bacho Akhalaya -- of leading the Chechens into a "trap." But the authenticity of the letter is open to question: the journalist to whom it was addressed, Zviad Mchedlishvili, told RFE/RL’s Georgian Service that he never received it. The Russian original has not yet been posted on any Chechen website.

Immediately after the shoot-out near the village of Lapanquri close to the Georgian-Russian border on August 30, 2012, Georgian officials implied that they had thwarted an attempt by insurgents to enter Georgia from Daghestan.

But an investigation by Georgian human rights ombudsman Ucha Nanuashvili subsequently concluded that the Chechens had been recruited in Europe by Georgian Interior Ministry officials, brought to Tbilisi, and trained over a period of several months in the use of weaponry with the intention of enabling them to cross the border from Georgia into Chechnya to join the ranks of the Islamic insurgency.
Ucha NanuashviliUcha Nanuashvili
Ucha Nanuashvili
Ucha Nanuashvili

In addition to the young Chechens living in exile in Europe, the organizers of the operation also recruited several Kists (Georgian Chechens) from the Chechen community that has lived for several centuries in Georgia's Pankisi Gorge. A group of 20 fighters finally made their way to Lapanquri on August 27, 2012. (Some reports say they commandeered an Interior Ministry vehicle and set off without informing their handlers.) 

Two days later (the anonymous Chechen says on August 28), 11 of them, including several Kists, were killed in a gun battle with Georgian special forces after they refused to surrender their arms.  The survivors have since left Georgia.

The letter from the unnamed Chechen substantiates Nanuashvili's account of how the young Chechens were recruited, brought to Tbilisi, housed in the city's Saburtalo district and provided with weapons and training.  But it differs from Nanuashvili's version in one key respect:  the anonymous Chechen claims the recruitment and training was initiated by the Georgian Defense Ministry, not the Interior Ministry, although he also identifies then Deputy Interior Minister Gia Lortkipanidze as one of the three top officials who "led us into a trap."  (The third is Sandro Ameridze, head of the regional branch of the Antiterrorism Center.)  The Chechen fighter further claims that Bacho Akhalaya, who served as defense minister from 2008 until mid-July 2012, met with the Chechens on a daily basis.

Nanuashvili had identified Lortkipanidze as having coordinated the recruitment and training of the Chechens. Last October, however, a prominent member of the Chechen community in Georgia, Umar Idigov, said  that the idea of co-opting Chechens and infiltrating them into Russia was Akhalaya’s.

But in a statement posted in April on his Facebook page, Akhalaya’s brother Dato, himself a former Interior Ministry official, claimed to be in possession of evidence that it was their former boss Vano Merabishvili who masterminded the planned operation. Both Merabishvili and Lortkipanidze have rejected allegations of their involvement as  "idiotic" and "absurd." 

New Hypotheses

The question thus arises: if the "Chechen letter" is a fake, was its purpose to offload responsibility for the entire operation from Merabishvili onto Akhalaya? Akhalaya was recently acquitted of indictments for exceeding his official powers as well as for illegal confinement and torture, but he remains in custody pending a second trial on similar charges.

In recent months, new hypotheses about why the Chechens were recruited have emerged.  Mamuka Areshidze, who heads the Caucasus Institute of Strategic Research, told RFE/RL’s Georgian Service that he thinks the original plan to facilitate the Chechens' infiltration into Russia was changed at some point without their knowledge.

In a recent interview, Nanuashvili referred to allegations that the Chechens were to be mobilized in an attack on Bidzina Ivanishvili, then head of the opposition Georgian Dream coalition, in the run-up to the October parliamentary elections in which Georgian Dream defeated President Mikheil Saakashvili's United National Movement.

But Temur Kenkebashvili, a former member of the Department of Constitutional Security (Georgia’s domestic intelligence agency), denies that any plans existed to target Ivanishvili personally. He told PrimerInfo that what was being mulled was to have the Chechens start a terrorist attack that the authorities would blame on Georgian Dream.

The ongoing official investigation into how, why, and by whom the Chechens were co-opted has apparently stalled, although Ivanishvili, who is now prime minister, said in late April that it would be completed "in the near future."

According to prosecutor Djaba Gurgenidze, the reason for the delay is that the Georgian investigators have not been able to question the surviving Chechen fighters now living abroad.

Given the evidence of Interior Ministry involvement in the operation that Nanuashvili claims to have obtained, it is not clear why the investigation is still being conducted by the Interior Ministry’s Counterintelligence Department, whose personnel took part in the Lapanquri operation, rather than the Prosecutor General. Nanuashvili advocates the creation of a public commission to undertake a separate probe.

Meanwhile, the Russian website has posted a purported summary of the "Chechen letter" that contains allegations missing from the Georgian-language version posted by PrimerInfo. Specifically, the kavpolit account implicates President Saakashvili in "the death of innocent men."
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: Mamuka
September 04, 2013 14:17
More incredible tales from Sakartvelo. All that is missing is space aliens from Kakheti.

by: Jack from: US
September 04, 2013 14:39
all terrorist activities are usually planned and initiated by CIA with Saudi assistance. So rather than speculate about who in rump republic of Georgia "masterminded" failed terrorist incursion into Daghestan, the author could simply ask someone in CIA.
US government is the major sponsor of terrorism
In Response

by: Ivan from: Varna
September 04, 2013 19:37
RFE/RL please block Jack from posting his ill-informed, crudely written responses. Surely you must have a "troll block" feature somewhere to prevent his tangential ravings from getting any exposure?
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 05, 2013 00:34
Ivan from Varna is right on the issue this time.
Jack say tons of lies, but not the truth, even for a dime.
Russia superseded USA and CIA on Saudi, to be their eyes,
Since 1954 pact with British and Bechtel. Saudis were advised
To support imperial re-division of the World, if they to survive.

Now USA somehow balancing it, negotiating with Saudis,
But in the long run, Russia keeps expanding as a moody,
USA is used all too well, spread thin resources of peace,
Configuration of future cleansed "race-empires" emerges,
In Muslim World genuine Caucasian ethnos being ceased.

Is USA understand that it is lead and used? Who is, Russia,
USA, CIA, or NATO puling string - using chemical weapon?
Is it foreign insurgent-Turban for Assad or Putin's Prussia?
Is it CIA serine, GRU Cheremuchka, or NATO-666 agent?
Is it late CIA report analysis and Casey's Jesuit-painters?

My point is - what will happen if or when World will gone?
New races - only Billion Viking-Varaga live in Euro-Asia?
Only Prussia-"Germanic-Inferiors" live in rest of Europe?
Only one of 12 Arab tribes Ishmaelite live in Africa-Asia?
Only Persians from its East live in rest of Moslem world?

Should all other nations, including the best, be vanished?
Starting in Georgia, Ukraine, CIS, Syrian genuine ethnos,
As Lidia, Hettia , Troy, Mesh - since 7-8 Millenniums BC?
Who will be left? Several, Billion each - uniform Empires?
Dream of Russia breed to 50 Billions - eating margarine?
In Response

by: J from: Tbilisi
September 07, 2013 11:39
Dear Jack: Please, please, please stop writing 'rump republic of Georgia' every single time you post. The excessive use of the phrase has become a form of written Chinese water torture, emphasising the emptiness of your comments' content.

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 04, 2013 17:14
Everything is possible in a small country, facing mass inhale
of expanding Russia everywhere.
Just few individuals, representing key position in a government
of a small country, much easier to become loose cannon
than large number of people and resources of similar
departments of larger powers.
That is usually used through history of the world,
not unlike the Prince of Troy, snitched by a high class prostitute-spy Helena, divorced wife of grabbing power over Greece alliance Putin-Medvedev-KGB-like King.
It would be unfear for me blame Akhalaya, however, forever the reason might be, somebody is playing already this canning "Medichi" card with letter that kick boll between
two or three key position men at the time.
The network of Russian Varaga and Bolshevik empires all over CIS is still extended and deep, that includes Georgia.
Georgia also is fear country that through history build friendly
alliances among pre-Georgian ethnographic groups and World at large, Including late United Kingdoms, it is why Georgians from Black Sea coast incorporated in all branches of government, and it is the good thing.
Unfortunately, in 1955 Russians killed all over USSR 150,000
people, mostly Georgians, and broke few among them, including West Georgians associated with Beria, that might still have some weak loyalty to new independent country, specially after tragedy in Abkhazia and bordering parts of Ozurgeti, with
continuing threats and pressure from Russia.
By the way, Russians since 1954-56, with help of Western
imperial resurrection that Russia instigated, created armies of
psychology, telepathy and other methods to control and to
manipulate people, without their consent - intermarrying it
with traditional Russian nature of "podleth, negodyay i derzhimorda"...

In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 05, 2013 21:52
It also might be just an accident, as Georgians said.
If the Chechens didn't want absorb in Georgia,
or return home, or leave for some foreign land
(as it happened during Shamil and during last Chechen wars,
when some settled in Georgia and some passed through).
They had no right to invade with guns another country, still
peaceful, like Dagestan.
That would be violation of rules of hospitality and the law.
The Chechens in question probably didn't want to agree with it and to disarm.
What for normal people is attack against sovereignty of people
of Dagestan and helping Russia mass inhale and cleanse
another neighbor, to invade Azerbaijan and Georgia again -
for misguided individuals is refusal by friends to let them
expand "Jihad" into another country,
probably by order or manipulations by Umarov, or directly
by Russian "Shtaby"...

by: Aslanbeck
September 09, 2013 06:43
They've somehow forgotten to mention another guilty man! Wasn't it that wrongly vaunted Dokku Umarov who made deals with the Georgians about joint operations and training of fighters in Georgia? Then he is guilty no less than those who ordered the fighters to be killed. Why no one accuses him of anything? Maybe his status of Amir gives him some kind of immunity?
In Response

by: Konstantin from: Los Angeles
September 09, 2013 22:41
If one would speculate that far, there at least two versions
One must consider. First, then Russians formed secretly,
But talking on streets, about 2,000 Chechens fighters
And about 2,000 North Caucasians, for a butchery,
If CIS would be under immanent attack by others.
It was official versus to have 4,000 mountaineers
As part of the Special forces staffed by Russians.
It also included super-murderous, Russian Nazis,
As it appeared later, were to enlarge evil empire -
That in part reinforced by shape-shifter-Anychars.

The last one included Umarov and alike, children
Of WW2 war criminals. They to save their fathers
Signed-in for any command. Russians presumed
Such people be exterminated - when empire built.
They do it for now only to patriotic and naïve guys
Second one is more realistic, to use patriotic ones,
Some Chechen refugees, living among Georgians.
Caucasian hospitality, be sensitive to their feelings,
As an appearance of Georgia pseudo-interference,
Might have (or not) complicities by a Georgian man.

As for GRU-Umarov-like activety always manipulate
Provoke Russian invasion, if they can, that translate
To most probable reason why young men would go
As far as invading with guns Dagestan - Jihad blow,
Georgia couldn't allow, if they fought they shot back.

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.