Murphy's Law: Chechen Brotherhood


April 23,2008: In Chechnya, Russia finally established peace (at least by local standards) by putting the toughest warlords in charge. This is an old tactic, and has worked in the past. One problem was that the Russians did not want to divide the province into smaller parts, each run by a different warlord. So, as a compromise, Ramzan Kadyrov, and his allies, were put in charge of the Chechen Republic (province) government (via elections, of course.) Meanwhile, the other major gang, led by the three Yamadaev brothers (and clan), were put in charge of the Vostok Battalion. This outfit, with a strength of 300-400 men, is largely composed of rebels who have accepted the amnesty. To separate the Vostok Battalion from the government, it was attached to the Russian Army's 42nd Motorized Rifle Division, which was stationed in Chechnya.

There was still friction between Kadyrov's provincial police and counter-terror forces, and the Vostok Battalion (which was, technically, a counter-terror unit that worked for the army, not the provincial government.) The Vostok guys did not get along with the provincial forces, and in mid-April, weeks of growing tensions erupted into a daylong gun battle in the town of Gudermes. The Vostok Battalion called on the 42nd division to send reinforcements, which didn't happen. Instead, the Russians prevented the provincial forces from getting reinforcements, and eventually got both sides to stop shooting. At least 18 were killed, and many more wounded.

Both sides accused each other of running criminal operations (kidnapping, extortion, prostitution and so on). Both sides were right, and the hostility was the result of turf battles. Who should be the chief criminal in what part of the province? The Russians have to sort all this out, otherwise, the fighting will resume.


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