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Kadyrov Ally Suspended From United Russia After Moscow Shooting Incident

Umar Dzhabrailov attends a Russian Federation Council session in 2006.

Wealthy Chechen businessman Umar Dzhabrailov has been suspended from the ruling United Russia party and charged with hooliganism after allegedly firing into the ceiling of his luxury Moscow hotel room during the early hours of August 30.

There is bound to be speculation over whether the charge will stick, however, given the 59-year-old Dzhabrailov's close ties to Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov and the Russian Interior Ministry (the pistol he used was a gift from former Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev, according to the Russian daily Kommersant).

Russian media report that Dzhabrailov fired into the ceiling of his hotel room in a fit of rage when the meal he had ordered from room service was brought not by a uniformed waiter but by a member of the cleaning staff. Dzhabrailov, for his part, says he pressed the trigger involuntarily during a moment of nervous tension.

He was taken to the local police precinct, charged, and released on assurance that he not try to leave the country. It is not clear whether he was questioned about a white powder, reportedly found in the room, which is said to be under analysis.

According to a brief biography compiled by the news portal Caucasian Knot, Dzhabrailov quit high school at the age of 15 and studied for three years as an apprentice furrier at a technical school in Moscow before his military service with the Strategic Rocket Forces. Having been talent-spotted by the Soviet Interior Ministry, he then entered the economic faculty of the prestigious Moscow State Institute of International Affairs (MGIMO), graduating in 1985.

Dzhabrailov began his business career in 1989 as a representative in Moscow of various Western companies. In 1992 he founded an oil company, Danako. He was also a partner in a Moscow hotel joint venture with U.S. businessman Paul Tatum, who was gunned down in the Moscow subway in November 1996 in what had the hallmarks of a contract killing. While Tatum had publicly accused Dzhabrailov of trying to blackmail him, no evidence emerged linking Dzhabrailov to the murder. He was nonetheless barred entrance to the United States.

With the apparent backing of the Moscow municipal council, Dzhabrailov subsequently expanded his business empire, acquiring shares in the Rossiisky Kapital bank and becoming president of the Plaza Group, owner and manager of a number of Moscow companies in the service sectors.

In early 2000, Dzhabrailov ran in the election in which Vladimir Putin was first elected Russian president, placing last of the 11 candidates, with less than 1 percent of the vote. Dzhabrailov nonetheless professed himself glad to have fulfilled his duty before Allah by demonstrating to the world by the mere fact of running for president that claims of a genocide against Chechens were totally untrue.

That statement would have endeared Dzhabrailov both to Putin and to Kadyrov's father, Akhmad-hadzhi Kadyrov, a former Chechen mufti whom Putin installed as Chechnya's leader in the summer of 2000.

It is presumably as a reward for his financial support to his war-ravaged homeland that Dzhabrailov was named in January 2004 as one of Chechnya's two representatives in the Federation Council, the upper chamber of the Russian parliament. Dzhabrailov was confirmed in that position for a second term in 2007 by Ramzan Kadyrov, who by that time had been maneuvered by Putin into the post of Chechen Republic president, Akhmad-hadzhi having been killed in a bombing in May 2004.

But in 2009, Dzhabrailov was constrained to "resign voluntarily" as senator to make way for another Kadyrov protégé, Suleyman Geremeyev, who has indirect ties to the man suspected of masterminding the murder in February 2015 of Russian oppositionist Boris Nemtsov. Chechnya's other senator, Ziyad Sabsabi, told Caucasian Knot that Dzhabrailov had decided to devote himself full-time to his business interests. But Moscow-based Chechen politician and businessman Malik Saidulayev was quoted by the Russian daily Kommersant as saying that "no senator steps down prematurely."

Kadyrov nonetheless publicly praised Dzhabrailov for his role in financing reconstruction of Chechnya's war-shattered infrastructure, declaring that during those years "he did everything he could for Chechnya and its people," Caucasian Knot reported on October 7, 2009.

Dzhabrailov was one of the founders in 2005 of the short-lived Russian Islamic Heritage movement, and he served together with then-Tatarstan President Mintimer Shaimiyev on its oversight committee until its demise. (Dzhabrailov's younger brother Khuseyn served as its chairman.)

From 2009-13 Dzhabrailov was an adviser to Russian presidential aide Sergei Prikhodko. He is currently deputy chairman of the Russian-Arab Business Council and president of the Russia-Qatar Business Council.

The views expressed in this blog post do not necessarily reflect those of RFE/RL

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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