09 August 2010, 22:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of August 2-8

Dokku Umarov first retired and then returned to the post of the main Caucasian militant; fiery element attacks Russian and Southern Caucasus; analysts recalculate Russia's technical losses in August 2008; person guilty of oppositionist Evloev's death was killed, while the latter's Internet heritage was recognized as extremist, - look these and other events in the review of the week of August 2-8, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Dokku Umarov resigned but then returned

In the end of last week a video was placed in the Internet, in which Dokku Umarov, leader of North-Caucasian militants, announced his resignation from the post of "Amir of Imarat Kavkaz", as he himself named his position, and declared Aslambek Vadalov, who was appointed to be his deputy this summer, as his successor.

Umarov explained his decision by health problems and the idea that jihad should be headed by more vigorous and younger fighters; he also emphasized that he would continue his jihad and help the new leader of Imarat Kavkaz. A source from a special agency asserted that Umarov had been poisoned; therefore, his health was undermined.

The news was unexpected and at once caused a wave of comments. Experts supposed that the change of power among militants may lead to a sharp growth in their activities in the region.

Ahmed Zakaev, former emissary of Chechen militants, who is now hiding from Russian justice in London, was sure that Umarov's former companions dismissed him from the command. Ruslan Martagov, a Chechen journalist and political scientist, agreed with him and added that, in his opinion, Dokku Umarov had lost his authority among militants.

However, already on August 4, the leader of Chechen militants stated that he had changed his mind. A video placed in one of the websites, which supports militants, showed a person looking like Umarov who made a statement that because of the situation in the Caucasus he found it impossible to retire from command of the underground. The speaker announced the previous statement cancelled and added that it "had been completely forged."

Experts are sure that the contradictory statements of the leader of Chechen militants were caused by a serious split within the underground. Under one of the versions, supported by Abdullah Istamulov, a political scientist and head of the research centre "SK-Strategy", leaders of the Kabardino-Balkarian subdivision of Imarat forced Umarov to recall his resignation statement.

Caucasus captured by fire

By August 2, in the region of Samtskhe-Dzhavakheti, fires captured several hectares of Borzhomi forests. Unique trees burnt down; and because of high heat new fire centres appeared every day. On August 4, the vicinity of Atskuri village was on fire. On August 7 after a strong wind new fires appeared near Tadzrisi village and in Chobiskhevi Gorge.

On August 3 and 4 fires appeared in woods and agrarian estates in the south of Azerbaijan. In particular, a fire burst out in Dalali village, Dzhalilabad District, where 100 hectares of pastures burnt down. Firemen managed to extinguish the fire.

Fires have also become more frequent in Kalmykia; in this context, the local Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) offered to introduce a special anti-fire regime in the Gorodovik, Lagan and Tselinny Districts.

On August 4, the smoke from the forest fire that covered seven hectares in the Denezhny Isle in the Volga River covered the Tsentralny and Krasnooktiabrskiy Districts of Volgograd.

On August 5, in the border of the Volgograd and Rostov Regions, firemen of the both subjects of Russia were actively extinguishing a forest fire. Three additional fire-fighting units of the united regiment of the Federal Fire-Fighting Service came to help local rescuers. They managed to divert threats away from dwelling settlements.

In some regions of Russia measures to prevent fires were taken. A special anti-fire regime caused by the settled 40-degree heat was introduced in the Krasnodar Territory.

Karachai-Circassia decided to take preventive measures against occurrence of fires near dwelling settlements and critically important and potentially hazardous objects; they started to fell trees near dwelling settlements.
Aiming to prevent new fires and keep the situation under control, on August 6 Adygea introduced a special fire-prevention regime.

The MfE of North Ossetia began forming groups of volunteers from among civilians for fighting possible natural fires. So far, they managed to prevent new fires in forests.

Besides, on August 7, an aircraft of the Air Forces took off from Mozdok Airport and took the separate pipe-laying battalion of the North-Caucasian Military District to the city of Ivanovo in the central region of Russia, where fires are at full swing.

On August 5, two helicopters - Mi-17 and Ka-32a - came to Russia from Azerbaijan to help in suppressing forest fires.

Abkhazia also decided to help the "burning" regions of the Russian Federation. The local Department for Emergencies (DfE) has offered to send several mobile groups of rescuers and firemen from the DfE to Russian subjects, where the situation because of fires is the gravest.

Four fire-fighting units from Armenia were sent to Nizhniy Novgorod for taking part in fire suppression.

CAST recalculates Russia's losses in South-Ossetian-Georgian war

In the course of the armed conflict with Georgia in August 2008 Russian army lost 6 warplanes, about 20 units of light armoured machines, three tanks and several dozens of trucks. This is stated in the research, made by the Centre for Analysis of Strategies and Technologies (CAST).

Ruslan Pukhov, director of the CAST and editor of the collection "Five-Day War", said that Russian command has not yet disclosed the official data about losses of the combat material. "However, our study of available photo and video data, memoirs of the participants of the warfare and media allowed making an independent calculation," he said.

Ingushetia: person guilty of Evloev's death shot dead, while oppositional website is blamed as extremist

In a skirmish in Nazran, Ibragim Evloev, 35, former deputy head of the state defence centre at the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Ingushetia, earlier convicted for occasional murder of Magomed Evloev, owner of the oppositional website "Ingushetia.Ru", was killed. This was reported by a source in the MIA, who explained that an unidentified man came into the cafe, where Ibragim Evloev was sitting, and make several shots at him from a Makarov pistol. Then, he managed to disappear. Beslan Albagachiev, 36, an employee of the MIA's department of own safety, was also wounded during the attack.

On August 5, the Magas District Court found the website "Ingushetia.ru" (ingushetiyaru.org), opened instead of the liquidated "Ingushetia.Ru" headed by Magomed Evloev, to be extremist. The local prosecutor's office found the materials entitled "In the Name of Allah we call you to join fighters and their helpers" to be extremist.

Also, it became known that the prosecutor's office of Ingushetia filed a suit to the Magas Court of the republic demanding to restrict access to the blog ingushetya_ru.livejournal.com, the owner of which Alaudin Dudko was detained in early May. As a result, starting July 23, providers completely blocked access to "Livejournal" from the territory of the republic.

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