Staunton, October 1 – A Daghestani soldier told his parents just before he shot and killed three other soldiers, including an officer, on Thursday and then was killed himself, that the Russian army unit in Amur oblast to which he had been transferred after experiencing problems in another, consisted of people who “hate” people from the Caucasus.
Specifically, he said, according to Russian media reports, “they hate ours there,” and both the shootings and the reasons behind him have set off alarm bells in Moscow, prompting the defense ministry to send the head of Russia’s ground forces to investigate the whole affair (fedpress.ru/news/28/incidents/1865641gazeta.ru/social/2017/09/30/10911896.shtml).
The reason for Moscow’s obvious concern over what might seem from the outside to be a relatively minor incident is that the greatest fear of any regime and especially an authoritarian one like Putin’s Russia is that the forces of coercion on which it relies might be rendered nearly useless by conflicts, ethnic, religious or otherwise, within them.
The soldier, Gasan Abdulakhadov, a Daghestani who was drafted from Nizhevartovsk, an oil center in the Russian Arctic to which many North Caucasians have moved for work and which has been the site of ethnic conflicts, had just shared his fears about the attitudes of other soldiers in his unit.
His father said that shortly before the shootings, Gasan had said that in the new unit to which he had been transferred, “they hate ours there.” The commander “doesn’t like us.” The rear unit was badly equipped. Indeed, the father said his son had concluded that it was “a terrible place, not the army but the devil knows what. Things aren’t as they should be with people.”
Investigators have told the Russian media that Abdulakhadov was “an outstanding soldier but very quick-tempered and demanding,” who was quite prepared to use force to compel others to listen to them. They point out that he had been in the new rear unit for a total of “only nine days.”
The Russian defense ministry says it will consider all possible explanations for the shooting, “including a nervous breakdown.” But it has already established that Abdulakhadov did not have a criminal record. The soldier’s own statements, however, strongly suggest that he acted as he did because of the attitudes of the officers and soldiers around him.