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The practice of “the adaptation” of insurgents: Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria

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The practice of “the adaptation” of insurgents: Dagestan, Ingushetia and Kabardino-Balkaria

The idea of the pacification of the underground by way of voluntary legalisation of its members and accomplices assumed some new embodiments for the past year. There no legal tools for this: none of numerous amnesties granted in recent years did not imply, for instance, Article 317 of the Criminal Code (encroachment on lives of servicemen and law enforcement officers), that is to say it did not actually apply to insurgents.

In the absence of other lawful alternatives, some specially created commissions are gaining more and more popularity with the power-wielding elite of the North Caucasus. Such a commission has been working in Dagestan s


November 2010



in September 2011

an analogous one was also established in Ingushetia. The issue of creating of such a body has long been discussed in Kabardino-Balkaria. As a result, the whole region of the conflict in the North Caucasus appears, one way or other, to be drawn in the work of similar conciliatory bodies, and a bit clumsy term “adaptation” has already come to stay for the designation of their activity.

But Chechnya remains to be an exception, where the authorities deny the very existence of the problem: supposedly there is no significant underground here, therefore there is no need in pursuing “adaptation” and creating commissions. We would, however, note that nearly the entire modern system of power in the Chechnya, which has been created since 2003 in the course of “the Chechenisation” of the conflict, might be termed as a product of the process of the “adaptation” of the armed underground, carried out using specific methods. Members of this underground, however, were not brought back to peaceful life but they were rather recruited for work in local power structures, using highly convincing methods.

On 5 September

, Head of the Republic,

Yunus-Bek Yevkurov

, announced a creation of a Commission for Adaptation in Ingushetia, underlining in this regard that the Commission was established following Dagestan’s sample (Life News, 05.09.2011).

In July 2011

, a delegation of officials from Ingushetia even visited Dagestan intentionally in order to get acquainted with the work of a local commission, and was given, in this respect, some personal explanations from its Chairman, the First Vice-Premier of the Government of the Respublic of Dagestan,

Rizvan Kurbanov


The Ingush and Dagestan Commissions have much in common. This concerns, first of all, the state institutions which are not duly authorised. The Commissions can only petition with corresponding bodies for leniency towards persons who voluntarily lay down their arms at the stage of an investigation, legal proceedings or service of sentence. They can promote rendering legal assistance to them; help “adapted” persons and members of their families in arranging their accommodation and everyday life; petition for mitigation of punishment for those whose fault has been proved or for permission to serve their sentences within the bounds of the North Caucasian Federal District; pay for an annual trip of relatives to the place where an “adapted” person serves his punishment (“Kavkazsky Uzel”, 09.09.2011; the Republic of Ingushetia, 10.09.2011). The same as in Dagestan, the Ingush Commission received a peculiar functional “makeweight” in the form of a responsibility to consider application of citizens regarding the facts of infringement of rights and freedoms observed during counter-terrorism operations (“Kavkazsky Uzel”, 09.09.2011).

Thus, in both the republics some universal operative agencies have been established, which “embrace” the non-coercive sector of the struggle against the extremist underground and which are called upon to resolve issues connected with elimination of penalties of law enforcement operations.

However, it has been obvious since the time of the establishment of the Commission in Ingushetia that the Ingush authorities do not copy Dagestan’s experience blindly. The work of the Commission here is non-public and even, one may say, conspiratorial. And this distinguishes an operative and search activity from the work of a department of public relations. This fact, however, reflects a difference in approach to the struggle against the underground and to preventive measures against extremism in the two republics.

For one thing, there has been no official publication of the Decree by President of the Republic of Ingushetia regarding the establishment of the Commission. The exact date of its creation is even indeterminate: the first announcement about its foundation appeared on the website of “Life News”

on 5 September 2011

, and on other websites

on 9-10 September

. One may only read about the personal composition of the Commission (not absolutely accurate at that) on the website of “Kavkazsky Uzel”. The Commission included representatives of security agencies, public and political figures of the Republic, The Chairman:

Akhmed Kotiyev,

Secretary of the Security Council of Ingushetia. The members of the Committee:


, a member of the Public Chamber of the Republic, retired Colonel of Police;


, Chief of the Department of the Federal Department of Execution of Punishments;


, Vice-President of the Council of Teips of Ingushetia;


, Head of the Fund for Support of Anti-Terrorism Fight and Assistance to Persons Who Suffered from Actions of Members of Illegal Armed Groups;


, Chief of the Department of Public Relations under the Administration of Head of the Republic;


, a member of the Public Chamber of the Republic of Ingushetia, the former Minister of Justice of Ingushetia;


, Chief of the Department of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic;


, the First Deputy Head of the Department of the Security Council of the Russian Federation of Ingushetia;


, Assistant to the Adviser of Head of the Republic, Chairman of the Public Commission for Protection of Human Rights under Head of Ingushetia;


, Human Rights Commissioner in the Republic;


, Minister of Public and Inter-Ethnic Relations of Ingushetia;


, Federal Inspector of the Republic of Ingushetia;


, Deputy Head of the Investigation Department of the Investigating Committee of the Republic (“Kavkazsky Uzel”, 09.09.2011). Head of the Ingush Representation of Memorial Human Rights Center,

Tamerlan Akiyev

, who had been away was also included in the Commission. They failed to notify him, and he missed the first session.

The authorities of Dagestan consider it necessary to make the work of the Commission as open as possible, regarding this as its important propaganda function. Speaking about former insurgents, Chairman of the Dagestan Commission, R.Kurbanov, marks: “After returning and joining the society, they can themselves explain to those who are standing at a cross-road that there is nothing for them to do in the woods, that settling down to a criminal course means going nowhere. And others will follow them”. (“Moscow News”, 13.11.2011). The work of the Commission for Adaptation is being knowingly and widely covered in the press and on the television. Occasionally, the latter assumes certain traits of a show that relates stories about difficult fates of “adapted” persons.

In Ingushetia, presumably, the greatest attention will be given to the safety of “adapted” persons and members of their families, which matter presupposes classifying their names as secret. The functional duties of the Ingush Commission, among other issues, include “assistance in … moving to a permanent place of residence beyond the bounds of the Republic of Ingushetia” (Мagas.Ru, 09.09.2011). Former insurgents must, as it were, get away from the destiny of their people for ever. It is an aspiration for anonymity that is traditional for Ingushetia: here the names of those who leave “the woods” were not made public in former times either. With all the advantages of this approach, insurgents who lay down their arms are completely excluded from propaganda activities. Besides, it will be objectively impossible to estimate work of the Commission because of impersonality of the information about “adapted” persons.

The success of the activity of the Dagestan Commission, be it yet modest, is based substantially on the personal authority of its Chairman, namely

Rizvan Kurbanov,

the First Vice-Premier of the Government of Dagestan, the influence of whom, as is believed in the Republic, extends further beyond his post that is formally far from being the first in the Government. The Commission includes heads of all republican power structures, as well as those of departments, which are responsible for information policy and which R.Kurbanov addresses, all the same, indirectly in the capacity of their curator in the Government. The composition of the Ingush Commission is by far more diverse: it uncludes many featureless chiefs of departments, who were probably deputied by heads of their agencies in order to “fill positions”. Probably, this composition will prove to be non-optimal and require some updating: the prestige and informal relations of its members are important for the successful work of such a commission. President of Ingushetia, whose name is most commonly mentioned in connection with attempts aimed at legalising members of the Ingush underground, did not wish to join the Commission. This also downgrades the authority of this institution.

In Ingushetia, the work of the Commission, as the first two months of its existence have shown, is really not transparent: little is known about it except for some declarations of President of the Republic of Ingushetia, which appeared in the press. Thus,

on 8 September

Yu.-B.Yevkurov announced that three insurgents had given themselves up in the course of one week (The Republic of Ingushetia, 08.09.2011). The circumstances of this acknowledgement of guilt and the role of the new Commission in this matter are not clear.

The situation in Kabardino-Balkariya is even more complex. The dialogue of the authority with the society here is less pronounced, but at the peak of the fierce struggle against the armed underground in

winter and spring 2011

(please see Section 1 of the present Bulletin) President of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria,


, was ready to condescend to establishing a commission similar to that of Dagestan and even announced about the beginning of its formation (“Komsomolskaya Pravda”, 18.05.2011), but the matter advanced no further. Some “inconsistent signals” continued to arrive from the Republic’s leadership.

On 23 October 2011

, the Operations Headquarters and the authorities of Kabardino-Balkaria once again declared their readiness to create conditions for bringing the young men back from the bandit underground to normal life. As the statement has it, a full, all-round and objective investigation of criminal cases is guaranteed to those who give themselves up, and if there are no signs of grave crimes in their actions they may be released from criminal prosecution according to active legislation (“some repeated delarations of the leadership of the Republic confirm this”). The Operations Headquarters also addressed human rights organisations, declaring its readiness to cooperate and consider “all constructive proposals aimed at developing mechanisms of involvement in the matter of ensuring publicly-disclosed and objective investigation of cases with respect to citizens who abandon their criminal activity” (RIA Novosti News Agency, 23.10.2011; the official website of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, 24.10.2011).

A few days later, President of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria, A.Kanokov, addressed in the same vein. He noted that “he had repeatedly met with parents and relatives of members of illegal armed groups, proposing to search for all possible contacts and to arrange a corridor for bringing back those who had gone to the woods”. He informed that there had already been a precedent: two persons had voluntarily surrendered, and they would get a minimum punishment. “I will gather relatives still on a larger scale, we will work and cooperate with the Operations Headquater. I think that it is the best time now to give these lads a chance”. He promised to personally guarantee safety and impartial investigation with respect to these people (“Kavkazsky Uzel”, 26.10.2011).

The words of President of the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria were disavowed by Chief of the Investigation Department of the Investigating Committee in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria,


, at a press conference

on 17 November

: “This interaction has yielded yet nothing. But we hope very much… We will ensure an absolutely just decision. He may make a plea bargain with public justice, there are no problems concerning it. This will considerably commute a punishment. An inhabitant of Baksanenok, Kozhokov, who had been involved in a murder of officers of the Department of the Federal Service for Execution of Punishments, including two women, got 12 years as a result of a plea bargain with public justice” (“Gazeta Yuga”, 24.11.2011). As V.Ustov further assured, the law enforcement bodies do not aspire to eliminate persons suspected of involvement in the activity of illegal armed groups by all means. Since the beginning of 2011, 70 insurgents have been annihilated, and 103 insurgents and their accomplices detained (“Gazeta Yuga”, 24.11.2011).

However, the confidence placed in the authorities by relatives of insurgents, who could become intermediaries in negotiations, is nevertheless inconsiderable.

In October 2011, a group of inhabitants of Kabardino-Balkaria, consisting mainly of relatives of insurgents either killed and alive (“mothers and relatives from Baksan, Chegem and Nalchik, whose sons are in hiding”) wrote an open letter to the authorities and the public, eloquently entitled: “young Caucasians, both Moslems and policemen, are perishing”. They wrote that despite a promise given earlier by Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic,


, to admit mothers to negotiations with insurgents, they refused such a possibility to




during the above-mentioned special operation

on 3 September 2011

, whose sons were among blocked the insurgents. The internet Edition “Kavkazsky Uzel” tried to look into this situation and lodged an inquiry with the Investigation Department of the Investigating Committee of Russia. In return, they received a non-commital reply: the investigation is proceeding, and “citizens Lampezheva and Kochkarova had not lodged any applications with the Investigation Department of the Investigating Committee of the Russian Federation in the Republic of Kabardino-Balkaria regarding the wrongful actions of law enforcement officers during the carrying-out of the special operation (“Kavkazsky Uzel”,15.10.2011).

In November, it had been one year since the time the Dagestan Commission for Adaptation was established. As R.Kurbanov declared, 40 persons had passed through it during the year, and negotiations are being conducted with 67 persons more regarding their surrender to the authorities. According to R.Kurbanov, the activity of the Commission had not been formalised for the past year, and the work on each application had been organised depending on the circumstances of a case: “Sometimes relatives of those who are in the woods apply and ask to help rehabilitate them. They lodge an application both on their behalf and in the name of a person. We begin to study the situation, we carry out negotiations with them. If it turns out that there is no bloody crime committed by a person, we hold a session of the Commission and decide what to do with them. Or somewhere an insurgent is in an hide-out: then we resort to the help of relatives, imams and psychologists. Recently, we managed to persuade a person to surrender” (“Moscow News”, 13.11.2011)

The latest episode of the work of the Commission is connected with a case of

Beslan Batsiyev

who has lived in Belgium since 2003. He has been on the wanted list for nine years. B.Batsiyev himself asserts that he did not shoot at anyone during his stay in the woods, he only cooked meals for his comrades-in-arms. A direct transmission of the session of the Commission

as of 31 October 2011

was broadcast on the Internet. The negotiations with B.Batsiyev began

as early as February 2011

; some federal structures including the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation were employed. B.Batsiyev came for the sake of his sick mother and family living in misery, who needed help (“Dagestanskaya Pravda”, 01.11.2011). While discussing the case of B.Batsiyev, a small verbal duel occurred between members of the Commission, which characterised some positions of its participants. R.Kurbanov reminded the attendees of a promise given previously to D.Batsiyev, stating that the latter would walk free before a trial, and that the former Head of the Investigation Department of the Investigating Committee of the Republic of Dagestan,

Kasumbek Amirbekov

, had declared his assistance in resolving that issue. The new Head of the Investigation Department,

Aleksander Savrulin

, got surprised: “I do not know what the former head had promised to you, because the solution of the question does not fall within our competence. As far as I know, this criminal case is being investigated in the North Caucaian Federal District,, and B.Batsiyev is accused of having committed several crimes” (“Novoye Delo”, 08.11.2011). As a result, R.Kurbanov’s posture won: B.Batsiyev went directly from the House of Government, where a session of the Commission for Adaptation was being held to an investigating agency in order to make a statement concerning his acknowledgement of guilt. He had a leniency application allowed by the Commission in his hands (“Dagestanskaya Pravda, 01.11.2011).

Among “adapted” persons there turn out to be some ideological “Jihadists” who arrive in Dagestan with “a one-way ticket” expecting “to find paradise” in the struggle against “infidels”. As R.Kurbanov said, the Commission managed to “reeducate” two of such visitors from Chelyabinsk and Cheboksary, who originally “did not hear us and even did not try to hear”. Understanding that such people drew their elementaries of Islam basically from sermons of

Said Buryatsky

, members of the Commission contrasted the idea of peaceful religion to extremist ideology, for which purpose they had sent some persons to be adapted to study in a madrasah from where they came out as people with “absolutely different mentality people”, if one trusts R.Kurbanov. “Somewhat later, their relatives kept coming to us and thanked, R.Kurbanov added. And the lads themselves thanked us for the fact that they had found some friends in our Republic” (“Moscow News”, 13.11.2011).

In the end of the summer and in the autumn, the first acts of voluntary surrender of insurgents on the security of the Commission for Adaptation took place, who had rendered an armed resistance to law enforcement agencies. This merit should not be credited to the Republic Commission but to the Derbent Municipal Commission for Adaptation, working in interaction with the former and headed by the First Deputy Head of the Administration,

Tatzhatdin Sultanov


On 26 August

, the group of members of an illegal armed group fired at the building of the Department of the Security Council of the Russian Federation in Derbent, after which some insurgents were blocked in a house. One of the attackers was killed in the firing. After attracting relatives of the blocked persons to negotiations, two insurgents surrendered to the authorities.

On 14 October

, some members of the underground, blocked in the Novy Posyulok [new settlement] in Makhachkala, namely

Nariman Mirzamagomedov


Telman Gadzhimustafayev

laid down their arms in the course of negotiations. According to the information of the National Antiterrorist Committee, the 41-year-old N.Mirzamagomedov was the leader of a Derbent group of insurgents, and the 24-year-old T.Gadzhimustafayev was its active member. According to agents of national security, the surrendered insurgents had been involved in a bombardment of the settlement of Mamedkali’s police division in the Derbent District, a shelling of the building of the Department of Internal Affairs in the town of Dagestanskiye Ogni, as well as in the murder of a headmaster of the settlement of Sovetskoye of the Magoramkentsky District,


, committed

in July 2011

(News Agency Interfax, 15.10.2011). Even before the beginning of the special operation, the blocked persons had been addressed by a member of the Derbent Municipal Commission for Adaptation,

Sevil Novruzova

, and by the parents of N.Mirzamagomedov and T.Gadzhimustafayev. It is worthy of note that the insurgents in Makhachkala accepted the negotiations on the condition that Rizvan Kurbanov gave a guarantee to them personally, the same as it had been one and a half months before in Derbent (“Kavkazsky Uzel”t, 16.10.2011). The weekly “Novoye Delo”, referring to an interview of the father of T.Gadzhimustafayev, insists on the fact that only relatives participated in the negotiations, but confirms that Telman Gadzhimustafayev already had an intention to surrender, some time before that, and that “he took an interest in a commission for adaptation”. A week before T.Gadzhimustafayev turned out to be blocked by agents of national security, his parents lodged an application with the Commission for Adaptation (“Novoye Delo”, 21.10.2011). Thus, the information about the Commission and its activity is being propagated among insurgents and make a demoralising impact on them, which is expected by the authorities.

According to a report of “Kavkazsky Uzel”, a session of the Municipal Commission took place

on 25 October

in Derbent. It was decided to assist five townsmen including Telman Gadzhimustafayev, who surrendered

on 15 October

, regarding their request to serve sentences on the territory of Dagestan (“Kavkazsky Uzel”, 26.10.2011).

On 20 October

, one more person involved in the activity of the group of N.Mirzamagomedov, 23-year-old

Zamir Agashirinov

, a citizen of Kazakhstan, surrendered after negotiations in the settlement of Reduktorny in Makhachkala. As officers of law enforcement agencies consider, he rendered panderly assistance to insurgents. He had a pistol with him. It is not reported whether members of the Commission participated in the negotiations, but th connection between the two acts of voluntary surrender is obvious. As a source of the newspaper “Novoye Delo” informed, “it is most likely that Zamir Agashirinov would also apply to the Commission in the near future” (“Novoye Delo”, 28.10.2011).

In conclusion, one cannot but say that

on 4 December

Head of the Commission for Adaptation, R.Kurbanov, got into the State Duma on the rolls of the party “United Russia”. He moved to Moscow and left all his posts in Dagestan. How this fact is going to be reflected in the work of the Commission is yet not clear.

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