It appears we Russians have been worried over nothing in Chechnya and the North Caucasus. According to a report filed on Grani.ru quoting FSB director Alexander Bortnikov (right photo), reports of the rapidly escalating political crisis are vastly overstated: “The situation in Chechnya after the lifting of the counterterrorist operation regime is found under control,” he said, while noting the influence of siloviki agencies has risen significantly. “By their actions, [the siloviki agencies] are contributing to the normalization of activity in the region.“
Another Grani.ru story reported that that a key Chechen rebel leader, Doku Umarov, is believed to have been wounded in a recent attack. According to State Duma Deputy Adam Delimkhanov, Umarov may have been wounded during a spetz operation on the border between Chechnya and Ingushetia. Despite losing four bodyguards, the rebel leader was able to abscond. After the military operation had already wiped out some 29 rebel bases, Delimkhanov was pushing for the operation to continue until the capture of Umarov.
In the midst of this violent crisis, several questions arise upon hearing these statements from Bortnikov and Delimkhanov.
Bortnikov says that the situation is under control, and that the powers and control of the state security agencies has risen. But who exactly would ever be ableto check and see whether or not this is true? I would suspect that if indeed it is the FSB and not the Armed Forces acting in this area, then it will be the FSB deciding what information is shared with the public, as well it will be the FSB punishing anyone who brings forward contradictory reports.
Bortnikov also talks about the lifting of the CTO regime (“counter terrorism operation” – which basically keeps the area on a military curfew lockdown). When I hear this, I of course rejoice down to my tippy-toes – the war is over! But in fact it turns out that this regime had been introduced wherever it poppedinto someone’s head to introduce it, by whomever saw fit to do so, and whenever they felt like it. Inother words, it essentially means nothing to say that a CTO regime has been lifted, especially when another can be laid down without warning and without discussion. The risk of reversal is quite high also, with state officials talking about the existance of groups of bandits in the area “planning to commit” terrorist acts.
Delimkhanov’s statements also raise some questions. The deputy says that Umarov, perhaps, is wounded. That is to say that there is also the possibility that he is alive and well and his hideous gang is fully functioning with strength and stamina. He says that there were “four bodyguards killed.” Congratulations to the officers who carried out the operation, but would it be possible to inform the public just how many other bodyguards or fighters now remain? A handful, dozens, hundreds? And how many of them were there in total, tell us, pleeeaze.
Of course there is much that I don’t understand about the way ourlegislative power is organized, sometimes empowered with the ability to direct the military. I’ll have to make a mental note of thisone, though: a State Duma Deputy is in charge of a spetznaz special operation. Is this the way military operations are handled in other democratic countries? Or are we, as always, following our own path here as well?
Bortnikov says that the CTO regime was introduced on 17 May, whileDelimkhanov says that the special operation on the contiguousterritories of Chechnya and Ingushetia was already being conductedsince 16 May. It would probably be a good idea for Bortnikov andDelimkhanov to at least agree on the dates. Also is we proceed from the premise that Delimkhanov that at least “29 bases of the fighters were annihilated,” assuming an extreme lowball number of some three fighters present per base,then this would mean that the operation wiped out an entire squadron of fighters – if this were true, wouldn’t this be major news?
So many questions remain: how many bases are there over there intotal? God almighty, if only 29 bases were annihilated there in oneday, then didn’t they lift the CTO regime a bit early? It seems that with this tragic civil conflict, the more our government officials say, the more questions they raises. Maybe they would do better to just keep silent. It’s more peaceful that way. For everybody.