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Russian Agents Swoop on Dagestan Officials

Latest arrests seem to be part of a purge of the notoriously anarchic republic’s top brass.

6 February 2018

Four high-ranking officials of the Russian republic of Dagestan, including its prime minister, were detained yesterday by federal agents on charges of embezzlement of public money.

 

Acting Prime Minister Abdusamad Gamidov, his deputies Shamil Isaev and Rayudin Yusufov, and former Dagestani Minister of Education Shakhabas Shakhov were detained and their houses searched, news agency Caucasian Knot says.

 

Agents found a “golden gun,” along with other weaponry and two Kalashnikovs, in Gamidov’s house, according to a press release from the Russian Investigative Committee.

 

The Investigative Committee also posted a video of the arrests on YouTube.

 

 

The latest raids cap a series of arrests of high officials and may be part of a power shuffle following the installation of a new head of the republic, Vladimir Vasilyev, in October, Meduza writes.

 

Two weeks ago, Musa Musaev, the mayor of Dagestan’s capital city of Makhachkala, was arrested on charges of abuse of power, followed a week later by the arrest of the chief city architect on suspicion of embezzlement, The Moscow Times reports.

 

Vasilyev – a colonel, and former leader of the United Russia faction in the State Duma – was a complete stranger to the region prior to his appointment, Meduza writes.

 

Political scientist Alexei Malashenko said that the Kremlin had had enough of the constant infighting among Dagestani clans, and for that reason decided to put someone from outside in power.

 

Journalist Anton Orech, in a column on the Ekho Moskvy website, opined that the recent moves in Dagestan are “an effort to get a part of Russia’s territory under control.” Dagestan is the most lawless place in Russia, home to the “main Islamist cells” and the source of “the biggest stream of people to ISIS,” Orech writes.

 

 

  • Another former Makhachkala mayor, Said Amirov, is serving a life sentence on charges of terrorism and commissioning contract killings.

 

  • One indicator of the dangers in Dagestan is the high rate of kidnappings and disappearances. Caucasian Knot reports on the “Mother’s Heart” movement, set up by Dagestani women who have lost their children without a trace. Zhanna Ismailova, head of the movement, put the figure of young people who have disappeared at 86. She herself is looking for her son, who went missing in 2012.

Compiled by Wasse Jonkhans

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