F, 26  
Federal District Plus
North Caucasus  
Street, Town, Region
Cherkessk, Karachaevo-Cherkessia  
not known  
national, "Kavkazsky uzel" (Caucasian Knot) website  
Other Ties
Cause of Death
hit by car  
Legal Qualification
trial, conviction  
Post Image


A court in Karachaevo-Cherkessia has convicted the driver who hit and fatally injured Bella Ksalova to three years and three months in a penal colony for first-time offenders. Arsen Abaikhanov fully admitted his guilt and said he was ready to pay the price for what he had done. (In court it became known that Abaikhanov has been attending a drug-dependency clinic since 2007.) The hearing lasted one and a half hours. Relatives of Ksalova, and friends of the accused, were present in court. Abaikhanov’s defence attorney did not attend. At the first hearing he had asked that his client be given the minimum for such an offence: a suspended sentence of 18 months to come into effect in six months time. Ksalova’s parents do not intend to appeal. “I am not that kind of bloodthirsty person,” noted Boris Ksalov, her father. “We shan’t delay things any longer – it won’t bring Bella back.”



The Investigations Committee of Karachaevo-Cherkessia has instigated criminal proceedings against Arsen Abaikhanov, the driver of the car which knocked down Kavkazsky uzel reporter Bella Ksalova.

The head of the press service at the republic’s Ministry of Internal Affairs told our correspondent that the police had investigated the incident until Bella died in hospital. Thereafter, the investigations department at the ministry took over the case and has again conducted forensic and other investigative activities. The results have been forwarded to the Investigations Committee at the prosecutor’s office.

Immediately after the tragedy, the republic’s Ministry of Internal Affairs was quick to issue a statement, clearing the driver: he was sober and not exceeding the speed limit, while Bella Ksalova was crossing the road in the wrong place.

“The day after,” said Bella’s father, Boris Ksalov, “my son visited the site of the accident and found Bella’s keys, shoes and an earring, lying in different places. How could the police have examined the site if my son was afterwards able to find so many items belonging to Bella?”

At the moment of the accident there were five other people in the vehicle apart from Abaikhanov: two men, two women, and an 18-month-old infant. The driver was the only one who was sober and that explains why, says Bella’s father, he is taking responsibility for what happened. Boris Ksalov disagrees totally with the official conclusion that the car which struck his daughter was not travelling at more than 60 kms an hour.

“Bella weighed 66 kilos. The collision was so powerful that the bonnet was crushed against the engine. That is only possible if the collision took place at high speed.”

The doctors’ evidence provides indirect confirmation of Boris Ksalov’s information.

“The young woman had extensive damage to her internal organs, she had received a blow to the head and had lost a great deal of blood. Her injuries were such that she could not survive,” said doctors at the republic’s main hospital where surgeons battled for three hours to save her life.

Excerpted from Kavkazsky uzel, 10 August 2010


(GDF digest 484E)

Bella Ksalova, 26, a correspondent for the “Caucasian Knot” news agency and website, was run over by a car near her home in Cherkessk at about 9 pm on Sunday, 25 July. According to the Karachai-Cherkess police, she was crossing the street "in the wrong place". Preliminary investigation shows that Arsen Abaikhanov, the driver of the car which hit her, was sober at the time and remained at the scene of the accident. He was driving a Volga automobile belonging to RosPrirodNadzor [federal agency for overseeing the use of natural resources]. Bella was taken to the republic’s main hospital but soon died of her injuries.

Ms Ksalova had a sharply critical pen that often caused the local authorities to frown. The journalist and her relatives lived under intense pressure for a long time, and on one occasion Bella's father was attacked and beaten up.

Among the subjects she wrote about were: problems with freedom of expression in Karachai-Cherkessia; the extraordinary Cherkess People's Congresses, where the republic's leadership was severely criticized; and she also prepared a series of video reports describing various aspects of ordinary people's life. Among these video reports were: sequences from a rally in memory of physician Alamat Kecherukov which developed into a campaign, canvassing for President Ebzeyev; stories about Cherkess ethnicity; warnings about the dangerous proximity of the TB hospital in Cherkessk to social infrastructure facilities; the problems facing the residents of city hostels; and many other reports.

Bella's most recent “Caucasian Knot” publications described constructive trends in the republic, and measures to restore ethnic culture and traditions and to revitalize the Abazin language.

Shortly before her death Bella Ksalova returned from a seminar in Moscow. She had repeatedly told her colleagues at “Caucasian Knot” she was under surveillance. One taxi driver had openly told her secret agents had been watching her house from a car parked nearby. In Bella's view, there might be quite a few people in the republic who would like to see a permanent end to her publications.

Author: Dmitry Florin, GDF correspondent for the Central Federal District