Ingushetian rebel clashes; increased penalties for terrorism offences; BBC identifies seven Wagner burial sites

Threatologist Eurasia: 13 April 2023


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This week's main stories:

  • More on clashes between rebels and security services in Ingushetia
  • Increased penalties for international terrorism under consideration
  • BBC Russian Service identifies seven Wagner burial sites
More on clashes between rebels and security services in Ingushetia

You can hear me talk about developments in Ingushetia on OC Media's Caucasus Digest podcast.


Further developments occurred in the aftermath of the 28 March attack on a traffic post in Ingushetia, which was covered in last week’s Threatologist Eurasia.


As part of the Counterterrorist Operation (KTO) launched in response to the attack, law enforcement sources reported that they had discovered vehicles and an arms cache belonging to the suspected insurgents (Caucasian Knot, 4 April). The security services later reported that improvised explosive devices were found during searches of the homes of three relatives of the attackers, all of whom were detained (Caucasian Knot, 6 April). 


Losses among security services reached three, with a further eight sustaining injuries (Caucasian Knot, 6 April). The body of a second suspected militant, identified as Movsar Kottoyev, was found near the scene of the KTO (Caucasian Knot, 5 April). A third man, Amir Bokov, reportedly surrendered to police, while three more militants remain wanted (Caucasian Knot, 7 April).


Caucasian Knot cited Amir Kolov and Sergey Goncharov, two former security service employees, as criticising the security services response in Ingushetia. They alleged that the fact that the militants managed to escape from both the initial attack site and the KTO pointed towards low levels of preparedness, as well as potentially intelligence gaps and a lack of vigilance (Caucasian Knot, 4 April).

Increased penalties for international terrorism under consideration

Vasiliy Piskarev, head of the State Duma commission for investigating interference in Russia’s internal affairs, has announced that the Duma will be considering legislative amendments to impose tougher punishments for the crimes of treason and international terrorism (Kommersant, 7 April).


If the proposed changes are adopted, the minimum sentence under Article 361 (Act of International Terrorism) of the Russian Criminal Code will be increased to 12 years, from its current boundary of 10. The maximum sentence under Article 205 (Terrorist Act) will increase from 15 to 20 years, while that for Article 205.4 (Organising a Terrorist Association and Participating in One) will go from 10 to 15 years. The planned punishment under Article 281 (Sabotage) will increase from 15 to 20 years. The minimum sentence for recruitment would increase from five to seven years, while that for aiding terrorism would go from 10 to 12 years.

BBC Russian Service identifies seven Wagner burial sites

The BBC’s Russian Service has reported that it has been able to identify seven burial sites across Russia that Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner has been using for its fighters killed in Ukraine. At least 995 people are supposedly buried at these sites (BBC Russian Service, 11 April).


The sites identified by the BBC are located in the vicinity of Novosibirsk (Gusinobrodzkiy cemetery), Irkutsk (Aleksandrovskiy cemetery), Sverdlovsk Oblast (Berezovskiy cemetery), Luhansk, Samara Oblast (Nikolayevka cemetery), Bakinskaya (eponymous cemetery), Moscow Oblast (cemetery in village neighbouring Fryanovo).


According to the BBC, the relatives of at least 42 people buried at the sites were unaware of the deaths. Its investigation identified 2,901 convicts who have been killed in Ukraine.


In a separate but relevant development, a Krasnodar pensioner who has been tracking Russian Private Military Company (PMC) burials has reportedly been forced to quit Russia after receiving threats from Wagner (Nastoyashcheye Vremya, 5 April).

Other stories of interest
  • A man has been detained in Karachayevo-Cherkessia on suspicion of participating in an attack on Pskov paratroopers in Chechnya in 2000, as part of a group led by Shamil Basayev and Emir Khattab (Caucasian Knot, 6 April).
  • Azerbaijan has conducted mass arrests of people accused of plotting a coup on behalf of Iran (OC Media, 6 April). It comes after an assassination attempt on an MP that the authorities labelled a terrorist attack (see last week’s Threatologist Eurasia).
  • A Stavropol native has been sentenced to 10 years for joining the Islamic State in July 2022 and planning to commit unspecified crimes on behalf of the group (Caucasian Knot, 8 April).
  • A 60-year-old resident of Karachayevo-Cherkessia has been arrested on suspicion of recruiting people to the banned USSR (alternatively Union of Slavic Forces of Rus or Union of Soviet Socialist Republics) group (Caucasian Knot, 7 April).
  • Andrey Medvedev, a former Wagner commander who defected to Norway, has been detained after illegally entering Sweden to buy cigarettes (Novaya Gazeta, 7 April). His defection and subsequent legal issues were covered in the 26 January and 2 March editions of Threatologist Eurasia.
  • Leaked US intelligence documents suggest that Wagner has sought to purchase weapons and equipment from Turkey. Whether the Turkish government was aware and whether the efforts were successful are unknown (Washington Post, 8 April).
  • Russian Human Rights Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova met with Wagner owner Yevgeniy Prigozhin to discuss cooperation. No further details of the meeting were provided (RAPSI, 11 April).

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