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Five Arrested In Killing Of Daghestan's Interior Minister

Adilgirey Magomedtagirov was the target for two previous assassination attempts.

Adilgirey Magomedtagirov was the target for two previous assassination attempts.

The arrest was announced on February 24 of five men suspected of plotting and perpetrating the killing in June 2009 of Daghestan's interior minister, Lieutenant General Adilgirey Magomedtagirov.

The suspects, from Daghestan's Botlikh Raion, are all current or former employees of the armed forces or law enforcement organs, according to the Russian daily "Kommersant." But the paper quoted relatives as saying that all five have cast-iron alibis for the day of the killing. They have been taken to Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia, where at least one of them has reportedly been subjected to torture to force him to confess to the murder.

Magomedtagirov was an Avar, as was then-President Mukhu Aliyev, whom Magomedtagirov reportedly hoped to succeed. He was shot dead by a sniper on the street in Makhachkala as he left a restaurant where he had put in a cameo appearance at a party to celebrate the wedding of a colleague's daughter. The weapon used was reportedly a highly sophisticated rifle issued only to the Federal Security Service (FSB) and military intelligence.

Independent Daghestani media reported that Magomedtagirov's decision to attend the wedding party was spontaneous. Some observers have inferred that he may have been killed at the behest of a rival faction within his ministry. But within days, the Shariat jamaat, the oldest and best organized militant Islamic formation in Daghestan, claimed responsibility for Magomedtagirov's death.

Footage of the shooting by a sniper on a Makhachkala street of a police officer resembling Magomedtagirov was posted in September on the Shariat jamaat website.

The insurgency had tried on two previous occasions to kill Magomedtagirov, in August 2006 and February 2007. Magomedtagirov's espousal of disproportionate force when conducting "counterterror" operations against peaceful law-abiding believers falsely suspected of ties to the insurgency impelled countless young Muslims to take up arms against the regime.

About This Blog

This blog presents analyst Liz Fuller's personal take on events in the region, following on from her work in the "RFE/RL Caucasus Report." It also aims, to borrow a metaphor from Tom de Waal, to act as a smoke detector, focusing attention on potential conflict situations and crises throughout the region. The views are the author's own and do not represent those of RFE/RL.