15 September 2010, 23:00

Week in the Caucasus: review of main events of September 6-12

Poor efforts in suppressing fires results in sacking high-ranking officials of the Volgograd Region; inspectors dealing with terror act in Buinaksk initiate a criminal case against commander of the army unit; a bomb found at the Irganai HPP in Dagestan; a resonant terror act was prevented in Ingushetia; and an explosion in Vladikavkaz took away dozens of human lives, - look these and other events in the review of the week of September 6-12, 2010, prepared by the "Caucasian Knot".

Fires cause resignation of bureaucrats in Volgograd Region

On Monday, September 6, Igor Pikalov, deputy head of the administration of the Volgograd Region for construction and the housing-and-communal complex and chairman of the regional commission for emergencies, Alexander Kazachkov, head of the Kotovsk Municipal District, and Victor Morozov, head of the Rudnya Municipal District, applied for resignation.

The officials decided to retire after Russian President Dmitri Medvedev demanded - on September 4 during his meeting with General Public Prosecutor Yuri Chaika - to conduct checks in the context of the consequences of natural fires in the south of Russia and the Volga River region and, if necessary, bring officials to responsibility.

Two days earlier, on September 2, the Volgograd Region was covered by atmospheric front with a strong wind and dusty storms at the temperature of almost +40C. Over 70 outbreaks of landscape fires were fixed in six districts of the region; supported by a strong gusty wind, they quickly captured dwelling settlements. As a result, fires burnt down 531 structures, including 419 dwelling houses; not without human victims - 8 persons were lost and 28 more were injured in fires.

In the meantime, fires continued in Dagestan and captured the forests near the villages of Khelaturi and Alak, Botlikh District, and Anchikh, Akhvakh District. The smoke covered the area, where more than 100,000 persons live.

Local residents told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that the authorities were not quite frank in giving information about how they suppress fires. For example, initially the unit on duty of the Ministry for Emergencies (MfE) of Dagestan said that they knew nothing about fires, but then assured that specialists work in fire centres, although local residents asserted that they tried to localize fire by their own efforts.

Ahmed Chupalaev, a forest warden of the Botlikh Forestry, has confirmed that the forces involved in fire extinguishing are not enough; however he noted that not only volunteers but also soldiers of the Botlikh mountain-rifle brigade took part in suppressing fires.

Investigation of Buinaksk terror act identifies suicide bomber and puts battalion commander under criminal prosecution

Specialists managed to identify the terrorist-suicide bomber, who committed a terror act on September 5 in the "Dalni" military training range located near the city of Buinaksk in Dagestan. According to the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) of Dagestan, it was Zamir Terekbaev, 26, a native of Andrei-Kurgan village, Neftekum District of the Stavropol Territory. Let us remind you that the explosion killed 4 and injured 35 persons.

Also, a criminal case was initiated against the commander of the battalion, where fighters suffered from the explosion, on suspicion of negligence. During the check of the circumstances of the terror act military public prosecutors revealed violations in how the range was guarded, which, in their opinion, resulted in these grave consequences.

Explosion at HPP in Dagestan; suicide bomber's self-blowing prevented in Ingushetia

On September 7, at about 10:40 p.m. Moscow time, a clap was heard at the Irganai Hydraulic Power Plant (HPP) - the second by power in the whole Northern Caucasus - with further ignition of a cable. The fire was extinguished on that very night.

Initially, the Chief Department for Dagestan of the Russian Ministry for Emergencies stated that the fire appeared because of depressurizing of the oil-pumping installation, and the Untsukul ROVD (District Interior Division) assured that the incident was of technogenic character, not a terror act.

However, on September 9, at inspecting the HPP, FSB agents detected a self-made bomb under one of hydraulic units - a plastic package with two 1.5-litre plastic bottles connected by wires with a Nokia mobile phone. The power of the explosive made more than three kilos in trotyl equivalent. Close to the bomb, power agents detected a mine-trap in the form of a ball pen with an empty shaft and small crystal balls inside. A rotation of the pen should have closed the electric circuit and trigger the explosion.

After the explosion at the HPP, Abdullah Nustapaev, a resident of Gimry village, Untsukul District, disappeared from his workplace; later he was announced into search. The investigation also did not exclude that Vladimir Redkin, Chief Engineer of the Open Joint-Stock Company (OJSC) "Sulak Hydropower Cascade", who had been kidnapped in late July, and liberated in early September and who had taken part in construction of the Irganai HPP, could have reported weak places of the structure to militants. Power agents believe that Ibragim Gadjidadaev, leader of the Gimri grouping, could be the organizer of the terror act at the HPP.

Prevention of another terror act with participation of a suicide bomber was announced by Yunus-Bek Evkurov, President of the Republic of Ingushetia. According to his story, the terror act was planned in one of crowded places. He noted that the crime was prevented, in particular, through the vigilance of local residents, but gave no further details.

Suicide bomber blows himself up at marketplace in North Ossetia

A powerful terror act was committed in North Ossetia in the morning on September 9, when the terrorist-suicide bomber, who drove a Volga car, triggered a 30-40-kilo bomb at the entrance to the central marketplace of Vladikavkaz. 17 persons, excluding the terrorist, were lost (14 were killed in place, and 3 persons died later in hospitals), while at present the total number of victims makes 173 persons.

Several suspects were detained as having to do with the explosion. Later, local law enforcement bodies reported that all the detainees were released; however, their relatives told the "Caucasian Knot" correspondent that they knew nothing about their whereabouts.

On September 11, about 200 persons, mainly young people, gathered in front of the House of Government in Vladikavkaz, demanding to ensure their safety and stop terror acts in the republic.

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