On February 18, a minibus carrying tourists from Moscow came under fire on the Baksan-Azau Federal Highway in the Baksansk Region of Kabardino-Balkaria. Three people died on site: Denis Belokon, Vyacheslav Kara and Irina Patrusheva. Two others, Valery Belokon and Sergei Efremov, were wounded. The following day car-bomb was found in the village of Terskol in the Elbrus Region of Kabardino-Balakaria: the car was parked next to the New Turning hotel, and also on the same day a cableway was blown up. These events are the result of the five years of the worsening crisis in the republic.
Information provided by the head of the Interior Ministry, Nuragliev, indicates that the number of terrorist attacks in Kabardino-Balkaria increased five-fold in 2010 alone. According to information from the Investigation Committee of the North Caucasus Republic for Kabardino-Balkaria there were 108 individual incidents of attacks on the life of people serving with the law enforcement agencies, the court and prosecutors in 2010 (this is four times higher than in 2009). And it was in this republic, Kabardino-Balkaria, that militants carried out their most audacious terror attack, targeting the Baksan Hydro-Electric Power Plant on July 22.
The FSB’ tactics – eliminating the militant ring-leaders – have not seemed to have any great impact on militants activity. It is worth recalling, that in March 2010 the young charismatic militant leader Anzor Astemirov was killed in the republic, he had led the attack on Nalchik in 2005.
In October 2005, when the tragic events unfolded, it had been thought that before this, the republic had been brought to this by the despotic ex-president Kokov and the head of the Interior Ministry, Shogenov, who were accused of persecuting young Muslims. This story had the support of the energetic, new president – Kanokov, and his supporters, who hoped that he would put the local police force in order and attract investment. Investment into tourism in the Elbrus area did emerge, but the local Jamaats only increased the intensity and frequency of their attacks.
The murder of the head of Kabardino-Balkaria’s Muslim Spiritual Directorate, Anas Pshikhachev, in Nalchik in December 2010, and this attack on tourists in the area have again demonstrated that Kanokov’s policy in this regard has failed to achieve any results whatsoever.
In addition, the development of the tourism sector, where government funding has been most forthcoming, has only served to exacerbate the conflict between the Adygeis and the Balkars. The public organization of the Balkars, the Council of Elders of the Balkar People, which tried to draw federal government attention to the fact that Balkars are being deprived of hay-fields and pasture, was closed on the Prosecutors’ orders.
The secret services, like the local authorities in the republic, seem to be in a state of disarray. In response to the attack on the tourists, FSB Director Alexander Bortnikov ordered that security be tightened at tourist sites across Kabardino-Balkaria, but that is merely a passive response to the worsening situation. In turn, President Kanokov had already called on his people to set up their own militia.
In addition, the situation in Kabardino-Balkaria became even harder to control in February 2011, when a new force declared itself in the republic: those involved call themselves the Anti-Wahhabis – the Black Hawks. According to Sergei Markedonov, on the night of February 5-6, a note written by the Black Hawks was found at the house that is home to the family of the outlaw Astemir Mamishev, who is suspected of being involved in a series of terrorist attacks. It read as follows: Warning! If your son kills even one more resident of Kabardino-Balkaria, you will be eliminated. The Hawks did not limit themselves to threatening notes: they threw a Molotov-cocktail into the courtyard of the building where the Mamyshev family lives. Notes penned by the Hawks have been reported across Kabardino-Balkaria calling for an end to religious tyranny, all of them phrased in such a way as to leave the families in no doubt that they are held collectively responsible for the actions of any individual family member.