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New Charges Brought Against Former Makhachkala Mayor


The jailed former mayor of Makhachkala, Said Amirov, in a Moscow court earlier this year.

The jailed former mayor of Makhachkala, Said Amirov, in a Moscow court earlier this year.

Former Makhachkala Mayor Said Amirov, who is currently in pretrial detention in Moscow on suspicion of ordering a contract killing, faces new charges of planning to assassinate an unnamed official by shooting down the plane in which he was travelling with dozens of other passengers.

Meanwhile, Amirov’s son, Magomed, has again been identified as a suspect in an abortive attempt several years ago to kill Daghestani oil magnate Gadji Makhachev.

According to Russia’s Investigative Committee, Said Amirov and the two men charged with him in connection with the murder in December 2011 in Kaspiisk of Investigative Committee official Arsen Gadjibekov have now been charged with preparing a terrorist act and illegal possession of weapons.

The ground-to-air Strela-2M missile they allegedly planned to use in the attack has been secured, and a search of Amirov’s country residence in the Levash Raion south of the capital reportedly yielded other objects relevant to the investigation.

It was purportedly anticipated that the North Caucasus insurgency would automatically be blamed for the “terrorist act,” according to the daily "Kommersant." The sole reason the plan was never put into effect, the paper says, was that it proved impossible to find anyone trained to fire the missile in question.

The Investigative Committee described the motive for the planned murder "to influence the decision-making process of the republic’s authorities," but it did not name the intended victim of the attack or specify when it was to have taken place. "Kommersant," however, said it may have been influential Daghestan Pension Fund Chairman Sagid Murtazaliyev. Murtazaliyev has not commented publicly on that hypothesis.

A similar lack of clarity surrounds the alleged involvement of Magomed Amirov in a botched attempt to assassinate Makhachev in 2006 by detonating a car bomb at Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport. Said Amirov's nephew, Magomed-Zaur Gadjiyev, one of two men arrested in connection with that incident, testified that it was Magomed Amirov who had issued the orders to kill Makhachev.

Makhachev went on record as saying he believed that the abortive attempt on his life was due to the ill-feeling between himself and Said Amirov. Both men were regarded in 2005 as possible successors to then-Daghestan State Council Chairman Magomedali Magomedov. But for reasons that are unclear, Magomed Amirov was never questioned about the bid to assassinate Makhachev. Computers were reportedly confiscated following a search of his home on September 10, but he has not been formally arrested.

"Kommersant" noted the possibility that the terrorism charge against Amirov is explicitly intended to deprive him of a trial by jury in which, his lawyers claim, he would stand a reasonable chance of being acquitted, especially if the evidence against him is inconclusive and he continues to maintain his innocence, as he has done thus far -- and/or, the terrorism charge may have been added to the indictment because the attempt reported in late July to implicate Amirov in the murders of two prominent journalists came to nothing.

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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