Armed Raid on Grozny, August 21, 2004
At night of August 21, 2004 two months after the insurgency of armed fighters to Ingushetia and a week before the appointed elections of the President of the Chechen Republic, large scale military operation was carried out by Chechen combatants in the capital city of Grozny. The monitors of HRC “Memorial” tried to reconstruct the picture of these events by visiting sights, and interviewing witnesses.
According to the evidence collected, the first clashes started soon after 6 p.m. Thus, at 6.10 a representative of “Memorial” witnessed an artillery shell landing in the area of Grozneftyanaya bus stop in the center of Grozny. At 7.10 - 7. 30 the fighters appeared at the outskirts of Grozny - in Staropromyslovsky and Oktyabr’sky districts.
The witnesses claim that big groups of armed men (20-50 persons each) in masks and without masks, in military and camouflage uniform entered the yards of blocks of flats along Staropromyslovsky highway. Probably, the fighters entered the city earlier, and at a certain time united in groups and launched the attack.
Shouting “Allah Akhbar”, “Ichkeria!” they started to herd the civilians to their houses; some were asking “Where are the cops?” Local people were running away in panic. The fighters followed the Ingush scenario: placed their own checkpoints at roads and simultaneously attacked selected objects, this time schools, where the electoral polls were located. In Staropromyslovsky district they managed to penetrate as far as three kilometers inside the city: between the 36th district and Novaya bus stop. The federal checkpoint in the area of the 36th district did not open fire on the insurgents, the checkpoint at Novaya bus stop, manned by the Chechen militiamen entered the fight.
The witnesses noticed that the insurgents were very well armed, mainly by grenade launchers and automatic weapon (some of them had 2-3 grenade launchers), they spoke Chechen and Russian, many of them had long beards sticking from under the masks. According to preliminary estimates of the investigation group, 250-400 fighters entered the city on August 21.
In Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny, the fighters attacked schools # 10 and #17, where the electoral polls were prepared for the elections. Two militiamen and one civilian were killed in schools N 10; in school # 17 was killed one Chechen militiaman.
At the moment of attack there was a woman with children in the building. Being aware of this, the residents of the nearby houses asked the fighters not to shoot at the building. Then one of the women was sent inside: “If it turns out that there are no children or women there, you are in trouble”, - the fighters said. When the insurgents made sure that the woman and children were, indeed, inside of the school, they gave up their initial plan to storm the building.
In the same area the fighters attacked the building of the Palace of Culture “Grozneftgas”. The night watchmen of the palace were set free, the building itself was burnt down. In the area of Neftemaysk bus stop the fighters stopped a white Zhiguli car with two passengers inside – Dakaev Ramzan and his friend Timur. Timur was dressed in camouflage trousers, which attracted the attention of the fighters. Having sensed a special attention of the “checkpoint personnel” to them, Ramzan showed a fake ID of a militiaman (Dakaev had not worked for militia). Both young men were shot dead.
In the same area, two women received shell wounds – Chastieva Zuram, born 1950, and Gabasova Zuram, born 1956, the ice cream vendors.
Abdurzakov Said Emin, born 1961, the driver of a shuttle minibus, was stopped and checked, then set free. However, several minutes later, as he kept driving along Staropromyslovskij highway his minibus was subjected to grenade fire. Said-Emin received serious injuries.
The fighters asked Isupov Ali, born 1984, to bring them water, which he did. At around 1 a.m., when the fighters left he city, masked personnel of federal power agency broke into the flat of Isupovs, at Mayakovskogo town, 64, ap.8, and kidnapped Ali. The parents of the young man are still unable to establish his whereabouts.
According to “Memorial” records, on August 21, 2004 in Staropromyslovsky district of Chechnya 3 militiamen and 5 military servicemen were killed; 14 civilians were injured.
In Oktyabr’sky district of Grozny, the epicenter of the events was in Minutka square, and the 8-th of March street, Sajkhanova and Pavla Musorova streets. Here the fighters “worked” in small groups.
The checkpoint # 29 of the federal forces, located in the proximity of the bus station was subjected to fire. The fights lasted for over an hour. The checkpoint was fired at from the nearby unfinished construction site. The splinters and bullets landed on the territory of an IDP settlement located nearby.
Near this checkpoint the federal servicemen set up out their own “block post” and checked the passing by vehicles. According to a representative of oil security agency, two security guards and one OMON fighter were killed at this “checkpoint”.
In spite of the proximity of military bases, the fighters set up checkpoints in the streets adjacent to Oktyabr’sky ROVD: Okruzhnaya, Khankalskaya, Gudermesskaja, Pavla Musorova.
The block post, at the crotch of Khankalskaya and Prigorodny streets was located less than one kilometer of the Russian military base in Khankala, and 500 meters from the federal checkpoint between Leninsky and Oktyab’sky districts. According to Nashalov Ismail, born 1974, a driver, injured on August 21, he, together with three of his passengers, one of whom was a serviceman of Yamadaev military unit, was passing by the crotch. The car was stopped by the fighters, having noticed machine gun in the hands of one of the passengers, they opened fire. The driver was injured, but tried to escape, the fighters decided not to finish him. The rest of the passengers were killed. Ismail Nashalov is currently in the emergency ward of the hospital. According to Nashalov, there were about 15 fighters at that “checkpoint”, a few others were hiding in an ambush.
In Oktyabrsky district was injured Abdurashidova Malika, born 1961. When the fighting started, she took a taxi and went to pick up her daughter, who was a vendor at a small marketplace. At the crossroad of Pavla Musorova street and Nagornaya street, the car passed the “improvised checkpoint” and found itself in the area of intense fire. The driver was killed, Abdurashidova was injured.
At the same “checkpoint” the fighters blew up 7 cars of personnel of power agencies; their passengers were shot dead. Remarkably, this group of fighters (probably 4 persons) acted in 500 meter proximity of the ROVD building and 400 meters from the military commandant’s office of Oktyabr’sky district. Presumably, the fighters remained there from half an hour to one hour, afterwards they disappeared. The corpses of the murdered persons were laying at the crossroad till morning.
In the village Michurinskoye, the group of 4 fighters shot two civilians- Damaev Apti and Bataev Isa. Probably, the fighters were retreating after the operation throught the area of neglected houses. Having come up to Mikhajlika street near the house # 31 them bumped on Apti, who was standing near a military YAZik car in old camouflage trousers (Apti is a mechanic, he was repairing this car). At the same instance Bataev Isa came out of the house in civilian clothes. The fighters opened fire, Apti was injured, Isa was killed.
Armed groups started to leave the city at around 10-11 p.m. In Staropromyslovsky district they took private minibuses from the civilians and drove out of the city. Subsequently, these cars were found in the suburban area of the15th milk farm, near the village of Gunnushki.
The federal forces did not try to attack or follow the insurgents. In the district of 15th milk farm a unit of security service of A. Kadyrov under command of Movladi Baysarov, organized an ambush, and were waiting for the fighters. Movladi himslef did not attack the insurgents, but was ready for defense. When the four young fighters decided to subject this unit to fire, they were encircled: three of them surrendered and 18-year old Deniev Isa was killed.
The only person who sent help the militiamen that day was the commandant of Staropromyslovsky district of Grozny. He send three APCs to the building of school # 10. The fighters attacked the APCs, all of them were on fire, 5 military servicemen died.
The first injured people started to arrive to the 9th municipal hospital at around 8 p.m. 23 injured civilians were hospitalized that night. One of them died.
According to “Memorial” data, in Oktyabr’sky district on August 21, were killed: 22 militiamen, 2 representatives of military prosecution, 12 civilians, 2 militiamen; were injured: 19 civilians, 1 militiaman.
According to the law enforcement agencies, on August 21, 58 militiamen were killed in Grozny.
The events of August 21 were not covered by the Chechen TV. Only once the Chechen channel ChGTRK in bypassing mentioned the Saturday events. On August 23, the executive minister of Interior, Ruslan Alkhanov reported that on August 21 in Chechnya was carried out an operation, similar to the raid on Ingushetia. Thanks to coordinated actions of the power agencies, the fighters failed to implement the “Ingush variant” in Chechnya.