According to Kadyrov, the dead men participated in the August 2010 raid on his home village of Khosi-Yurt (Tsentoroi) in which at least five police officers were killed and 17 wounded.
Kadyrov named the three men as Zaurbek Avdorkhanov, Ibragim Avdorkhanov, and Ayub Khaladov.
Zaurbek Avdorkhanov indeed commanded one of the groups of fighters responsible for the Khosi-Yurt attack.
Zaurbek and Ibragim Avdorkhanov both feature in this clip, as do Emir Ayub and the leaders of the other two groups that took part in the raid, Makhran and Abdurakhman.
Kadyrov claimed the three men were killed when they went to fetch a bride from Galashki for Ibragim Avdorkhanov.
Kadyrov said the security forces got wind of those plans and laid explosives that killed the three men without incurring any losses themselves. He said the intended bride is now being questioned.
Republic of Ingushetia head Yunus-Bek Yevkurov, however, gave a very different account of what happened.
He said the explosion took place late on July 29, and that specialists concluded it was caused when an explosive device the men were preparing detonated prematurely.
Yevkurov said the explosion killed two men and injured a third. He said all three of them were from Gudermes.
The website yuga.ru quotes the Ingushetian Interior Ministry press service as identifying the two men killed as Idris Abayev and Alikhan Dolkhadov.
That statement said Dolkhadov was from the village of Alleroi. After Kadyrov’s statement on August 1, however, Ingushetia Security Council Secretary Akhmed Kotiyev told the Russian daily “Kommersant” that the men killed had been identified on the basis of identity documents they had with them as the Avdorkhanov brothers and Khaladov.
It is, however, highly unlikely that the three fighters were carrying identity papers. “Kommersant” also quoted Ingushetian security officials as saying the explosion took place on July 31 (not July 29).
Reasons For Skepticism
Disregarding that discrepancy in the dates, Yevkurov’s initial version is more plausible than Kadyrov’s, for several reasons.
First, the Chechen commanders of Zaurbek Avdorkhanov’s generation (men in their 40s who have been fighting since 1999 or even earlier) are acutely and meticulously security conscious. Unlike their younger counterparts in Daghestan and Kabardino-Balkaria, they rarely venture out of their mountain strongholds, even to visit their home villages, and they avoid using mobile phones.
The commanders communicate among themselves by sending a messenger carrying a USB memory stick.
Second, Zaurbek Avdorkhanov was identified in April as emir of the Kurchaloi district, east of Grozny. It is unlikely (but not beyond the realm of possibility) that at the height of the fighting season, and during Ramadan, he would attempt to travel the 80-plus kilometers west to Ingushetia to abduct a bride for a relative.
Third, Zaurbek Avdorkhanov was one of self-styled Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov’s closest associates. In video footage of a meeting of commanders in mid-April, he is sitting at Umarov’s right-hand side.
Kadyrov’s version of the killing of the three men raises the question: if their identity was known to the Chechen security forces, why was no effort made to take them alive, given that they may have been able to provide information that could have led to Umarov’s capture?
This is the second time this summer that the Chechen authorities have claimed a victory over the Islamic insurgency, the details of which do not stand up to scrutiny.
In mid-June, the Chechen media circulated an equally implausible report of the purported killing near Grozny of two fighters allegedly sent by self-styled Caucasus Emirate head Doku Umarov to assassinate Kadyrov.
Kadyrov has issued orders to law enforcement bodies to track down and either apprehend or kill the other two commanders responsible for the attack on Khosi-Yurt as well as Aslambek Vadalov, the military strategist who planned the strike together with the Arab commander Mukhannad.