Senior judge murdered in North Caucasus

The North Caucasus has been shaken by another violent incident. Supreme Court deputy chairman Aza Gazgireyeva was shot on her way to work in the Russian Republic of Ingushetia. She later died from her wounds in hospital.

Shortly after the murder, the president of Ingushetia, Yunus-Bek Evkurov, announced that a joint counter-terrorist operation would continue until the republic is free of terrorism.

The attack took place at 8.40am Moscow time, according to a report into the investigation. Gazgireyeva reportedly died on the spot, though a source in the Republic’s Interior Ministry says the woman was taken to hospital where she died during an operation.

The driver was also injured and taken to hospital, as were four others travelling in a car which was passing the site at the time. All sustained injuries of varying severity.

Evkurov says investigators are considering two possible versions of why Aza Gazgireyeva was murdered. Both are connected with her professional activities.

The first is linked to a criminal case involving 12 people suspected of participating in an armed attack on Ingushetia by Shamil Basayev’s gang in 2004. Gazgireyeva was to be one of three judges to hear the case.

Police say she had received several death threats over her future involvement in the trial.

The second version is linked to a case where Gazgireyeva overturned a recent ‘not guilty’ verdict, which had acquitted a suspect in a drug marketing trial.

The President stressed that the murder investigation would be completed in the coming days and that suspects have already been identified. Evkurov added that after the initial shooting, a gunman approached Gazgireyeva and shot her in the head to make sure she was dead.

A spokesperson for the Investigative Committee of the General Prosecutor’s Office, Vladimir Markin, said a group of experts from the Committee had been sent to Ingushetia to help with the investigation.

The head of the Investigative Committee has also arrived in the North Caucuses to follow the case.

Earlier in the day, the neighboring Russian republic of Dagestan has seen a wave of violence that left two policemen dead and two wounded.

Locals, however, seem quite calm about what happens here. Police patrols are attacked almost every day in Dagestan.

Astemir, a father of two, says there is no point in being afraid, and he is not thinking of moving to another region, as violent incidents happen there too.