More Chechen Murders, Kremlin Feeling Edgy

Gilani Shepiyev, a former deputy mayor of Grozny, received three fatal gunshot wounds to the head late last night outside his Moscow apartment – an increasingly common affliction for many Russians who are in some way connected to the South Caucasus.  The poor guy had only just barely survived an assassination attempt back in 2006.  Shepiyev is the third high profile former Chechen official murdered in the past four months, following the contract hit on Ruslan Yamadayev, an opponent of the infamous Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov.  Last month’s murder of human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, who was involved in the case against the alleged rapist and murderer Gen. Yuri Budanov, was actually “condemned” by Kadyrov, who was furious that Budanov was being granted early parole.  In other words, the Chechen murder industry is a completely confusing mess.

But the state doesn’t seem too happy to have Moscow pitch itself into a downward spiral toward 1990s-style gangland shooting gallery. 

Today President Dmitry Medvedev made it clear to the country’s security organs that their focus must be on “extremism,” as “this type of legal violation inflicts colossal damage and is a systemicthreat to national security.

But more than an effort to protect his own citizens, these commentsappeared to include permission for a crackdown on any unrest related tothe economic crisis:  “We are falling under the influence of the global crisis — a worseningproblem of unemployment and other social issues. At such a time oneencounters those who wish to speculate — to use the situation. So onecan’t allow an already complicated situation to deteriorate.