By Valery Dzutsev
On August 12, the North Caucasian rebel resource Kavkazcenter.com reported an astonishing discrepancy between official and previously reported numbers of casualties. On August 11, government forces killed six militants in Makhachkala, Dagestan. In a press-release related to the August operation, the Russian national antiterrorist committee said that the killed rebels had been involved in two high-profile attacks in Dagestan. On September 5, 2010, a suicide bomber attack killed 56 servicemen at the military base in Buinaksk. On February 14, 2011, two suicide bombers – ethnic Russian converts to Islam, Vitaly Razdobudko and Marina Khorosheva – killed 26 servicemen in a double suicide attack in Gubden village in Dagestan (http://kavkazcenter.com/russ/content/2011/08/12/84348.shtml).
The intrigue of the situation is that at the time, the Russian official sources reported four killed servicemen in Buinaksk (http://ria.ru/incidents/20100906/272974410.html) and two killed servicemen in Gubden (http://ria.ru/inquest/20110414/364571491.html). According to Kavkazcenter, the RIA Novosti website removed the initial numbers of casualties from its website. In fact, its modified article does not contain any casualty numbers for the Buinaksk or Gubden attacks. (http://ria.ru/defense_safety/20110811/415938900.html). However, information about 56 and 26 killed servicemen in attacks in Dagestan continued to be available on the internet as of August 14, 2011. In particular, the English version of ITAR-TASS news agency’s website still reflected the numbers of killed as 56 and 26 respectively (http://ria.ru/defense_safety/20110811/415938900.html).Given the relative freedom of the press in Dagestan, this discrepancy is even more striking. If there was no mistake and the initial numbers of casualties were tweaked, the casualty statistics in the North Caucasus should be drastically readjusted. The latest incident casts additional doubt on already dubious Russian statistics concerning the unrest in the North Caucasus.