Russia Launches ‘Counterterrorism Operation’ In Daghestan, 3 Detained


(RFE/RL) — Three people have been detained after Russia launched what it described as a “counterterrorism operation” in the southern region of Daghestan, Russian state news agencies reported on March 31, quoting the National Anti-Terrorism Committee (NAC).

Russian law enforcement has carried out sweeping checks of immigrants in the country after gunmen on March 22 killed 144 people at a concert hall near Moscow. Four of the suspected gunmen are Tajik citizens.

“Security agencies detained three bandits who were planning a number of terrorist offenses. During the inspection of the places where the criminals were detained, automatic weapons, ammunition, and an improvised explosive device ready for use were found,” the NAC said in a statement on March 31.

The committee said the suspects had been apprehended after what it described as special forces of Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) had cordoned off several apartments in residential areas of Makhachkala, the regional capital, and Kaspiysk, one of the republic’s biggest cities.

The committee said there were no casualties and that the operation was continuing. No further details were released.

The reported raid comes as Russia rounds up hundreds of foreigners for deportation amid rising xenophobia following the deadly attack at Crocus City Hall on March 22.

Courts in St. Petersburg this week ruled to deport 418 foreign citizens while another 48 must leave on their own accord, spokeswoman Daria Lebedeva said in a post on Telegram.

The foreigners were rounded up in Russia’s second-largest city during broad searches of vehicles along major thoroughfares.

Other cities are carrying out checks of migrant workers as well.

Russia hosts millions of migrant workers from Central Asia who are employed in a variety of occupations, including construction, street cleaning, retail, and the restaurant industry.

The terrorist attack has sparked an increase in xenophobic remarks and attacks, prompting some to return home now.

Shakhnoza Nodiri, deputy head of Tajikistan’s Ministry of Labor, Migration, and Employment, said on March 30 that the ministry has received “a lot of calls” from people who “want to leave.”

However, their departure could worsen Russia’s already tight labor market, experts say.

Russia’s unemployment rate is at a post-Soviet record low of 2.9 percent as the Kremlin recruits hundreds of thousands of men for its war in Ukraine.

The tight labor market is driving inflation higher, threatening economic stability, experts say.

Meanwhile, Russian authorities on March 31 continued to allege, without evidence, that Ukraine and Western spy agencies had links to the terrorist attack outside Moscow on March 22, even as they acknowledged receiving information from the United States early in March about a potential attack.

The Islamic State extremist group has said several times it was responsible for the attack, and the United States and other Western governments have said it was “abundantly clear” that Islamic State was solely responsible. Kyiv also has vehemently denied any connection to the attack.

On March 31, the Foreign Ministry in Moscow demanded “the immediate arrest and extradition” by Kyiv of “all persons linked to terrorist acts in Russia,” as it citied other attacks inside the country following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 2022. Among those listed in the ministry’s statement was Vasyl Malyuk, chief of the Security Service of Ukraine (SBU).


RFE/RL journalists report the news in 21 countries where a free press is banned by the government or not fully established.

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