Dagestan shaken by high-profile murders

A Dagestani Supreme Court Judge, Kurban Pashaev, was fatally shot by an unidentified attacker on December 11. The Associated Press quoted Makhachkala police spokesman Malvudin Galimov as saying that Pashaev was shot more than ten times in the entranceway of his apartment building in Makhachkala. Citing Russian media,the news agency reported that Pashaev was the third person to be attacked after being involved in a case earlier this year in which four men were acquitted of attempting to kill the head of the regional branch of Russia’s state pension fund. According to Interfax and RIA Novosti, one defendant lost a leg in a bomb attack on his car while a lawyer for two defendants remains hospitalized after being shot in the head last month. Russia’s Supreme Court threw out the acquittals and ordered a new trial (Chechnya Weekly, May 17). 

Pashaev’s murder was just the latest in a series of high-profile killings in Dagestan, Kavkazky Uzel reported on December 12. On December 10, Gazimagomed Magomedov, a deputy in the People’s Assembly, the republic’s legislature, was shot to death after being called out of his home in the village of Gimry by unidentified people. Itar-Tass reported that another apparent attempt on Magomedov’s life was made on December 1, the eve of elections to Russia’s State Duma, when an explosive device was found in the main staircase of a five-storey building in the village of Vremenny in which he had an apartment.


Kommersant on December 11 reported that in connection with the murder of Gazimagomed Magomedov, police were searching for “a local Wahhabi” with whom Magomedov had met for talks. The newspaper described Magomedov as a criminal “authority” known by the nickname Gasimagomed Gimrinsky who had been involved in “shadow operations” as an “intermediary between the special services and the militants.” It quoted Novaya Gazeta correspondent Vyacheslav Izmailov, who knew Magomedov, as saying that he was directly involved in “many kidnappings,” including the 2002 abduction in Dagestan of Arjan Erkel, the head of the Médecins Sans Frontières mission for Dagestan, who was released from captivity after 20 months following the payment of a ransom.


According to Kommersant, Magomedov had been the target of six assassination attempts between 2002 and 2007 and that two of his drivers were killed in the attacks. The newspaper also reported that his brother, Ibragim Magomedov, who was murdered in Baku in 2002, was the person who handed over the poisoned letter that killed Khattab, the Arab field commander of the Chechen resistance, in March 2002. According to Kommersant, both Gazimagomed Magomedov and Ibragim Magomedov were on the rebel side during the first Chechen military campaign but had already switched to the federal side in 1999, when Chechnya-based militants invaded Dagestan. Gazimagomed Magomedov was a member of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party.


On December 7, 65-year-old Akhmed Ibragimov, who was Justice of the Peace of District Court #29 in the Dagestani city of Kaspiisk, was found shot to death in his apartment in Makhachkala. On November 26, Nariman Aliev, an academic, and his wife were found shot to death in the village of Mamedkala in Dagestan’s Derbentsky district. On November 24, Farid Babaev, head of the regional branch of the liberal Yabloko party, died from wounds he received in attack by an unidentified gunman on November 21. As Kavkazky Uzel reported, both Babaev’s relatives and the Yabloko leadership believe his murder was politically motivated.


Kommersant reported on December 8 that police had arrested four young men-a Chechen, two Laks and a Dargin-in connection with a plot to assassinate Khasavyurt Mayor Saigidpasha Umakhanov. The alleged perpetrators, who had an arsenal of weapons and an explosive device, said they were paid 0,000 and promised another 0,000 upon successful completion of the murder plot. Kommersant quoted the head of the Khasavyurt city administration, Arslanali Murtazaliev, as saying that the alleged plotters had told police that the order to murder the Khasavyurt mayor had come “from Makhachkala.”


Kavkazky Uzel reported on December 12 that Dagestan’s president, Mukhu Aliev, discussed the series of high-profile killings and the plot to kill Khasavyurt Mayor Saigidpasha Umakhanov with Russian Prosecutor General Yury Chaika and Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliev during a visit to Moscow.


Meanwhile, the Sova Informational-Analytical Center, a Moscow-based NGO that researches such topics as nationalism and xenophobia, reported on November 11 that two fortunetellers were murdered in separate incidents in Dagestan. Two men in masks burst into the homes of a 44-year-old woman in Khasavyurt and a 49-year-old woman in the nearby village of Endireyaul on the evening of December 10. The men told their victims that fortune telling was a crime that merited death and then opened fire. The first woman was shot eight times but survived, while the second victim died at the scene.

Source: The Jamestown Foundation

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