Asker Jappuyev (Emir Abdullakh), commander of the Kabardino-Balkaria-Karachai wing of the North Caucasus insurgency, responded immediately by ordering a general mobilization in order to protect militants' families and "ordinary Muslims" from indiscriminate reprisals.
Since Jappuyev was named its commander in April 2010, the Kabardino-Balkar-Karachai jamaat has systematically gunned down dozens of police and security officials. In the past two months alone, insurgents have killed the republic's mufti, Anas Pshikhachev; respected ethnographer Aslan Tsipinov; and Chegem district head Mikhail Mambetov.
In late January, the insurgents adopted the tactic of setting up booby-trapped road signs indicating which sector of the "Caucasus Emirate" motorists were entering. One local police chief was seriously injured on January 31 when an improvised explosive device blew up as he was inspecting one of those road signs.
On February 1, KBR President Arsen Kanokov convened a press conference in Nalchik at which he admitted that the republic's police were unable to contain the insurgents and outlined proposals for doing so more effectively. He stressed, however, that "of course we shall not burn down the homes [of fighters' families] like they do in Chechnya." The Black Hawks ignored that injunction when they targeted the Mamishev family home, thereby calling into question Kanokov's authority.
Then on February 3, the day after insurgents killed five police lunching at a Chegem cafe, the KBR parliament met in emergency session and adopted two appeals, one to the Russian leadership to "take additional measures to stabilize the situation," and the second to the population at large to close ranks to combat the "terrorist threat."
Neither appeal is likely to have any effect. Fearing for their lives, officers are leaving the KBR police force in droves, according to Sergei Vasilyev, who was named KBR interior minister three months ago. Jappuyev issued a statement in October promising not to target police officers who resigned and made the fact public, and his February 6 general mobilization decree contains a prohibition on harming rank and file policemen "who do not participate in attacks on Muslims' families."
North Caucasus Federal District head Aleksandr Khloponin has argued against imposing a counterterror regime in the KBR on the grounds that the situation is not serious enough. Cynics might construe Khloponin's rejection of stringent counterterror measures as motivated primarily by the desire to save face: imposing such measures would be a tacit admission not only that police and security forces are powerless to contain the militant threat, but of his own personal failure.
On the other hand, as Khloponin himself has pointed out, injustice at the hands of the police is one of the factors that impel a steady stream of new volunteers to join the insurgency. One of the 74 (to date) comments on Jappuyev's general mobilization decree describes such an incident: