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Medvedev Names New Daghestan Interior Minister


Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (left) meets with Daghestani leader Mukhu Aliyev in Gorki in February.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev (left) meets with Daghestani leader Mukhu Aliyev in Gorki in February.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has appointed a career Federal Security Service (FSB) officer, Colonel Ali Magomedov, to succeed slain Lieutenant General Adilgirey Magomedtagirov as Daghestan's interior minister. Magomedtagirov was shot and fatally wounded in Makhachkala six weeks ago.

Magomedov, who is an Avar, was born in 1949 in Gumbetov Raion, which borders on Chechnya, and graduated in 1973 from Daghestan's State Pedagogical Institute. He joined the KGB in1976, and worked for that agency and its successors for over two decades, including a spell as top security official in Daghestan's second-largest town, Khasavyurt, before Daghestan's President Mukhu Aliyev named him in July 2008 to head the republic's Security Council.

Two months after Magomedov's appointment to that post, he publicly criticized inadequate coordination between various government agencies both at the republic and the local level in combating terrorism and religious extremism.

Russian and foreign observers alike have argued over the past couple of years that arbitrary police brutality against peaceful young practicing Muslims in Daghestan has been a key factor in driving many young men to join the Islamic resistance. Magomedov's appointment may herald a break with that strategy.

The choice of Magomedov is seen as strengthening the position of Aliyev who, the Russian daily "Kommersant" suggested, now has a free hand to rein in the Interior Ministry, which under Magomedtagirov had acquired the reputation of being corrupt and beyond Aliyev's control. The Russian-language weekly "Chernovik" on July 10 characterized Magomedov as enjoying Aliyev's trust.

No explanation has been offered for the delay in announcing a new minister. Russian Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev had said in Makhachkala on June 25 that Magomedtagirov's successor would be named before the end of the month. According to "Kommersant," Aliyev met several times in recent weeks with Nurgaliyev to discuss the best-qualified candidate. Why Magomedov was finally chosen rather than one of two senior Daghestan Interior Ministry officials who were identified as possible successors to Magomedtagirov is likewise not clear.

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.

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