Ingushetian violence crosses border; former Wagner commanders allege war crimes; terrorism legislation changes adopted

Threatologist Eurasia: 20 April 2023


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This week's main stories:

  • Ingushetian violence crosses border
  • Former Wagner commanders allege war crimes
  • Russian terrorism sentences increased
Ingushetian violence crosses border

The last two issues of Threatologist Eurasia have covered insurgency-related developments in Ingushetia. To recap, on 28 March there was a shootout at a border post on the Ingushetian-North Ossetian border. On 3 April, Ingushetian security services declared a counterterrorism operation (KTO) in pursuit of the alleged rebels who escaped from that incident. On 5 April, there was an operation on a farm, to which these rebels had been tracked; security services suffered casualties, but some of the rebels again managed to escape.


The latest development in this series of events occurred in Chechnya on 12 April (although this newsletter is released on Thursday, it is usually compiled on Tuesday — which is why these details were not covered last week). Chechen security services conducted a special operation in Gvardeyskoye, Nadterechnyy Rayon. According to Chechen Head Ramzan Kadyrov, the operation was intended to “neutralise a participant of the bandit underground” who had crossed over from a neighbouring region. Kadyrov denied that a larger group of insurgents was involved (Caucasian Knot, 12 April). The presumption was that this neighbouring region was Ingushetia, and that the alleged militant was one of those who had evaded the security services there.


The individual in question was detained during the operation and was subsequently identified as Ingushetian resident Ramazan Babuyev. He is accused of helping those involved in the 28 March incident, rather than directly participating in it, and then seeking refuge with a relative after being wounded in the 5 April clash (Caucasian Knot, 12 April). Ingushetian security services reported that they had discovered a grenade in the home of one of Babuyev’s relatives in Aki-Yurt, and an improvised explosive device in the house of another resident of the village (Caucasian Knot, 14 April). 


Ingushetian Head Makhmud-Ali Kalimatov claimed that four militants had been killed and two arrested in total as a result of the KTO in Malgobekskiy Rayon, while three security services had been killed and 15 wounded across the incidents. He also claimed that the militants had pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, and his press service reported that nine accomplices who were residents of Ingushetia and Chechnya had been detained (Caucasian Knot, 15 April). Kalimatov’s figures and claims did not align with reporting elsewhere.


Caucasian Knot cited a couple of experts as urging caution in accepting at face value the claims that Babuyev is an insurgent. As Oyub Titiyev noted, the only information available comes from the Chechen authorities (Caucasian Knot, 12 April). Such caution is warranted, and echoes points I made in an interview given to OC Media's Caucasus Digest podcast on 12 April. Not only is available information on the group involved in this series of events limited, but there has been no organised insurgency — by which I mean an infrastructure and recognised leadership —in the region since the very end of 2016. 


Another incident occurred in Ingushetia on 12 April, although no information has yet emerged to suggest that it is connected to the aforementioned series of events. Unknown individuals opened fire on a car travelling along the Kavkaz federal highway in Sunzhenskiy Rayon. Two civilians were wounded in the attack (Caucasian Knot, 13 April).

Former Wagner commanders allege war crimes, which monitors human rights in Russian prisons, has published a video featuring two people claiming to be former commanders with the Private Military Company (PMC) Wagner, in which they claim that they witnessed and participated in multiple war crimes committed by the group. They also claim the group had captured and executed five people from one of Kadyrov’s security service units after they refused to go on the offensive in Ukraine (Telegram, 17 April).


According to, the two men featured in the video were both former convicts: Azamat Uldarov, imprisoned in Saratov Oblast’s IK-13, and Aleksey Savichev, imprisoned in Voronezh Oblast’s IK-1. The organisation claims that both were recruited as part of “the Putin-Prigozhin [Wagner’s owner] programme, known as ‘Project K,’” and both were pardoned by Putin in 2022. It noted that Uldarov and Savichev provided extensive details on, among other crimes, the “execution of more than 20 Ukrainian children and teenagers, [and] the blowing up of a pit with more than 50 wounded captives.” They personally implicated Prigozhin in ordering some of the acts. The full video was posted on’s YouTube channel and is 1 hour 17 minutes and 1 second long. It consists of a rather strange recording of a mobile on which's founder is making video calls (YouTube, 17 April).


Uldarov and Savichev also claimed that a Wagner fighter with the call name Razumnyy had drunkenly captured and executed five “Akhmatovsky,” i.e. men belonging to one of Kadyrov’s security service units, after they refused to go on the offensive. As Kavkaz Realii notes in its summary of the video, Uldarov and Savichev do not offer any details on which unit the executed men belonged to (multiple ones carry the name Akhmat, as part of the cult of personality around Kadyrov’s father), or clarify whether they were actual Chechens or recruits from other regions. The men claim that Razumnyy was executed for his actions. There is also no independent proof of the men’s claims (Kavkaz Realii, 17 April). insisted both men were currently located in Russia and “100% they are not under any kind of influence from the SBU [Security Service of Ukraine], CIA, etc.” Kavkaz Realii, however, observes that “in the video, Uldarov is evidently in a drunken state.”


In separate Wagner-related war crimes news, Wagner was accused of involvement in the execution of a Ukrainian soldier. A video of the execution and another showing its aftermath were posted online (Newsweek, 11 April). 

Russian terrorism sentences increased

On 18 April, the State Duma adopted legislative proposals that increased punishments for a range of terrorism-related offences under the Russian Criminal Code (SOVA Center, 18 April). Some of the proposed changes were outlined in last week’s Threatologist Eurasia.


The key terrorism-related changes involve increasing the maximum sentence under Article 205 (terrorist act) from 15 to 20 years; the minimum sentence under Article 205.1 (aiding terrorism) part one from five to seven and part two from 10 to 12 years; sentences under Article 205.4 (participating in a terrorist group) from between five to 10 up to 10 to 15; and minimum sentences under Article 361 (act of international terrorism) part one from 10 to 12 and part two from eight to 10 years. Other changes to the Code related to treason, acts of sabotage, and attacks on people or institutions enjoying international protection.

Other stories of interest
  • A Stavropol resident has been sentenced to nine years in prison on charges of trying to recruit people to the Islamic State (IS) (Caucasian Knot, 11 April).
  • An appeals court has confirmed the sentence of an Astrakhan resident sentenced to 11 years in prison for aiding insurgents in Syria between 2013 and 2021 (Caucasian Knot, 13 April).
  • A court has sentenced a Chechen resident to 11 years for storing an improvised explosive device and preparing a terrorist attack (Caucasian Knot, 13 April).
  • Ingushetian security services discovered an arms cache in Karabulak that supposedly belonged to Ingushetian emir Beslan Makhauri, who was killed in 2015 (Caucasian Knot, 12 April).
  • A court in Chechnya sentenced a man to life imprisonment for his involvement in an attack on OMON members on deployment from Perm in 2000 (Kavkaz Realii, 13 April).
  • The European Union has sanctioned the RIA FAN “news agency,” and further sanctioned Wagner, over their activities in Ukraine (European Council, 13 April).
  • An appeals court has confirmed the sentence of a Dagestani man who was sentenced for terrorism financing. The man had transferred money to his brother, who had joined IS (Caucasian Knot, 17 April).
  • A former Wagner fighter has been detained in South Ossetia, accused of murdering a local resident (Kavkaz Realii, 18 April).

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