The former head of one of Chechnya’s shadowy security forces was fatally shot in Moscow on Saturday by law enforcement officers who were trying to detain him on suspicion of abductions and killings in the violence-plagued southern region, officials said.
Movladi Baisarov was shot when he resisted officers seeking to detain him on a main avenue in the capital, said Svetlana Petrenko, spokeswoman for the Moscow prosecutor’s office. A prosecutor at the scene, Irina Bobinova, said he pulled a grenade when police tried to arrest him after he got out of a car.
Baisarov headed a force that provided security for Chechnya’s first pro-Moscow president, Akhmad Kadyrov, who was assassinated in 2004, but had been on increasingly bad terms with Kadyrov’s son Ramzan, the region’s powerful prime minister. Baisarov’s force had reportedly worked before for the separatist Chechen leadership in the late 1990s.
The body of a man resembling Baisarov lay in a pool of blood on Moscow’s Lenin Avenue late Saturday. Police milled around the corpse, still clad in a leather coat and a scarf.
Baisarov’s history reflects the volatile web of shifting allegiances and rivalries that contribute to persistent violence and tension in Chechnya, the site of two wars in the past 12 years pitting separatist rebels against Russian forces and their Chechen allies.
According to the weekly newspaper Moskovskiye Novosti, Baisarov’s force in recent years was under the control of the Federal Security Service, which is the main successor of the KGB and was formerly headed by President Vladimir Putin.
However, the newspaper said, the unit the force was attached to was dissolved early this year, and in October police and prosecutors said they were seeking to detain Baisarov on suspicion of involvement in the killing of 10 people.
The alleged victims — members of a single family and their acquaintances — were abducted in 2004 and their bodies were found last month, Ekho Moskvy radio reported.
Maintained his innocence
Major fighting has died down in Chechnya since the second war started in 1999 and the separatists were driven from power, but the mostly Muslim region is plagued by rebel attacks as well as violence blamed on federal troops and forces of the Moscow-backed Chechen government, many of them under Ramzan Kadyrov’s control and many including former rebel fighters.
Ekho Moskvy reported that Baisarov had come to Moscow to get away from Kadyrov, and that Chechen special police took part in Saturday’s operation.
Baisarov had denied responsibility for the killings, blaming Kadyrov for his troubles with authorities and contradicting Kadyrov’s claims to be bringing order to Chechnya, Ekho Moskvy reported.
Also Saturday, homemade bombs exploded in two oil wells in Chechnya, and a third device was found and defused in another well in what authorities said they suspected was a rebel attack.
Nobody was hurt in the blasts or the fire that raged in one of the wells after the explosions near the regional capital, Grozny, the Interior Ministry branch in Chechnya said.