source: Radio Free Europe, Eurasia Daily Monitor
On January 23 2013, a group of rebel fighters lead by Gakayev brothers was “eliminated” during a shootout in the mountains of Chechnya, in Vedeno district.
The fighters had reportedly been pursued for days by a contingent of several thousand Russian and pro-Moscow Chechen police and security forces, who deployed combat helicopters and heavy artillery against them. They might have managed to escape, had their precise whereabouts not reportedly been betrayed, possibly under torture, by a member of the group.
At the time of the fighting, Chechen security forces was quoted as saying rebel fighter Islam Temishev (age 22) surrendered to the authorities following a gun battle on January 23 with Gakayev rebel group.
In the weeks after, it was revealed that Temishev was one of several “moles” who had infiltrated the rebels’ ranks over the past few years.
In this video, Islam Temishev and other alleged “mole” Algiriev Beslan – are seen talking as unsuspected members of the rebel group. The third man showing up in the video, Islam Atiev (age 24) was killed later in December 2013.
Video of the questioning of the second spy (Algiriev Beslan) dispatched by the government. The rebels also show devices the spy possessed: miniature bombs that were to be planted under certain commanders, signaling devices that were supposed to alert government forces about rebel locations, and so on. Algiriev Beslan says he was tortured and coerced into cooperating with government forces.
The video was designed to show that the government’s successes were the result of the “moles” they plant among the rebels. At the end of the questioning, the alleged spy is executed.
On January 23, the pro-insurgency website Chechenews.com reported receiving information that the group had telephoned with the news that they were surrounded and had no hope of surviving. Video footage shows Muslim Gakayev having a head wound bandaged; another fighter asks jokingly why the enemy can’t fire more quietly.
Islam Temishev together with Russian and pro-Russian Chechen forces during the January 23 rebel-army battle
Bodies of the rebel group members in the forest
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov shows up on television with Islam Temishev, whom he questions (among other things) about life inside the rebel enclave. Kadyrov portrays rebels as cowards and promises severe punishment.
On the night of February 18, the men accused by Islam Temishev of providing food and other essentials to the rebels – were brought to Vedeno and were humiliated by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov in front of television cameras. One of the men was terminally-ill Said Gunkbayev (pictured below).
At the end of the broadcast, the media sources announced that “despite the severity of the crimes committed, Ramzan Kadyrov gave them a chance and let them go”. However, after the televised appearance a few of the men “disappeared” (common phenomenon in the region) and Said Gunkbayev’s body was found with signs of torture.