Russia: March 13, 2003


A group of five rebels responsible for about 50 serious crimes (including killing several Russian generals) has been taking into custody in Chechnya. Acting on the orders of Shamil Basayev, this little band of headhunters was responsible for the murder of Lt. Gen. Igor Shifrin on November 16, 2002 and shooting down an Mi-8 helicopter in Grozny. That September 2001 attack killed ten officers of the General Staff, including Generals Anatoly Pozdnyakov and Pavel Varfolomeyev. Three of the detained rebels were also involved in an attack on an Mi-26 helicopter in August 19, 2002, which resulted in the helicopter crashing into the Khankala military base and killing 119 people.

In January, Chechen police raided Amir Shamsutdin Salavatov's apartment. The leader of one of Groznyy's Wahhabites groups had a small arsenal in his home (including an SA-7 surface-to-air missile) and a Kalishnikov rifle. The rifle was later tied through ballistic tests to be the same one used to kill Lieutenant General Igor Shifrin on November 15, 2002. Salavatov gave up the names of his group under interrogation, some of which were found in refugee camps inside of Russia. 

The group's arms supplier acquired most of the weapons (particularly the surface-to-air missile systems) through numerous middlemen in Georgia. According to the prisoner, each of the 10 systems cost $100,000, but he did not know who had paid for the missile systems, since his job was merely to deliver the weapons to Grozny. - Adam Geibel

In Chechnya, rebels used a roadside bomb against an army truck, killing one soldier.

Government and private studies indicate that government officials took between $16-22 billion in bribes last year. After decades of indifference, the government is making a major effort to reduce corruption. Much of the graft occurs in the military, some of which was revealed during the Chechen operations as soldiers sold weapons to the rebels and took bribes to facilitate rebel attacks.


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