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Daghestan’s Interior Ministry Targets State Broadcaster

  • Liz Fuller

Daghestani Interior Minister Abdurashid Magomedov

Daghestani Interior Minister Abdurashid Magomedov

In an in-depth interview four years ago focusing on the problems of the North Caucasus, Moscow Carnegie Center staffer Nikolai Petrov characterized Daghestan’s Interior Ministry as an independent actor, rather than an integral component of the republic’s political system, and at the same time as “a fortress under siege” motivated by the need to defend its own corporate interests.

Whether in defense of those interests or of his own reputation, Interior Minister Lieutenant General Abdurashid Magomedov has ordered the confiscation of documentation and computers from Daghestan’s State TV and Radio Corporation, apparently in retaliation for a July 5 TV program in which former Interior Ministry and Prosecutor’s Office personnel discussed arbitrary detentions and the recourse by police to “forbidden methods,” meaning the use of beatings and torture to extract incrimination evidence from innocent suspects.

That program was hosted by anchorman Aleksey Kazak, who serves simultaneously as an expert for the Russian State Duma’s Nationality Committee, and was one of a series focusing on the Interior Ministry.

According to Magomed Magomedov (no relation to Abdurashid), a correspondent for the independent Chernovik daily, Interior Ministry personnel had been invited to participate in earlier discussions, but declined to do so.

Citing information received by the ministry’s Administration for Economic Security and Countering Corruption that pointed to possible violations of the law by unnamed leading State TV and Radio Corporation officials, the interior minister ordered the confiscation of all relevant paperwork and computer files dating back to January 1, 2013. Current Republic of Daghestan head Ramazan Abdulatipov was first appointed to that position in late January 2013.

Kazak posted a scanned copy of Magomedov’s edict on his Facebook page, adding that he hopes the instances of police brutality he publicized will be scrupulously investigated. He further professed certainty that “our cause is just, and justice will triumph!”

This is not the first time that Daghestan Interior Ministry personnel have attempted to bring to the attention of the Russian leadership widespread abuse and corruption within that body. Two years ago, in March 2013, four serving or former Daghestan Interior Ministry officers discussed those failings at a press conference in Moscow convened by the human rights watchdog Memorial after having spent the previous six months trying without success to gain an audience with federal Interior Minister Vladimir Kolokoltsev.

One of the four, police Colonel Salikh Gadzhiyev, said he had informed the Daghestani Interior Minister (he did not specify whether he meant Abdurashid Magomedov or one of his predecessors) more than once of the kind of abuses that were taking place, but the minister failed to take any action.

Gadzhiyev further alleged at that press conference, and more recently in an interview he gave to Chernovik, that police posts can be purchased. The going rate varies, he said, from 350,000 to 400,000 rubles ($6,207-$7,093) in Makhachkala to 450,000-500,000 rubles in the southern town of Derbent.

Gadzhiyev listed a number of measures he considers essential to improve the functioning of the Interior Ministry. They include renouncing illegal methods in the ongoing campaign to neutralize the North Caucasus insurgency; eradicating corruption within the ministry and improving its image; holding senior officers responsible for violations committed by their subordinates; and strengthening the ministry’s administration for internal security and making it independent of the minister. (In 2014, that department detained 30 ministry officials for soliciting or accepting bribes, and brought criminal charges against 60 others.

Gadzhiyev, a grandfatherly figure who wrote a dissertation on “Theoretical and Practical Aspects of Classifying Abductions," first started publicizing corruption within the Interior Ministry in 2008. He was fired in June 2013, three months after the Moscow press conference, and is currently working on his doctoral dissertation, entitled "Problems of Organized Crime, Extremism, Terrorism and Corruption and the Fight Against Them in the Republic of Daghestan.”

Kazak told Caucasian Knot on July 10 that the Interior Ministry probe of the state broadcaster’s activities, which began two days earlier, focused on the accounts and personnel departments, and that the police officers involved were making every effort to proceed with maximum correctness.

Chernovik correspondent Magomed Magomedov opined that Kazak must have received prior approval from a senior republican official for his overt criticism of the Interior Ministry. At the same time, he expressed doubt that Abdulatipov has any interest in direct criticism of minister Magomedov, who has served in that post since August 2010. If that is indeed the case, giving the green light for Kazak’s whistle-blowing programs may have been intended as a warning to Abdurashid Magomedov to take steps to curb the excesses of his more gung-ho subordinates.

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.