Aliyev blamed that incident on "a certain group of people" in Daghestan and elsewhere who for whatever reason are not happy with his leadership and have therefore launched a struggle for power. Aliyev described that group as "not even an opposition such as exists in the civilized world, but destructive forces" who will stop at nothing to achieve their objective, trampling on the law and the constitution, and who rely on money and ties, in some cases criminal, to federal structures.
He added that "if the law enforcement agencies had performed at the level they are supposed to," some of his unnamed rivals "would not be aiming at the presidency, they would be somewhere else entirely."
Although Aliyev was not quoted as identifying any of his rivals by name, on February 18 the news agency regnum.ru posted a commentary by Konstantin Kazyonin, chief editor of the information agency RosFinKon, in which Kazyonin argued that Aliyev's oblique reference to "Moscow oligarchs of Daghestani origin" leaves no doubt that he meant Lezgin businessman and Federation Council member Suleiman Kerimov.
Kerimov spokesman Aleksei Krasovsky denied on February 19 any involvement by Kerimov, according to kavkaz-uzel.ru. Krasovsky said that as a senator representing Daghestan, Kerimov "devotes all his efforts" to the successful social and economic development of his home republic and to promoting the peaceful coexistence of its various ethnic groups. He hinted that Kerimov might take legal action against media outlets that had implicated him in the failed attempt to install Vladimir Radchenko as Tax Service head for Daghestan.