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Suspect in Daghestani Journalist's Murder 'Pressured To Implicate' Senior Officials

Journalist Khadzhimurad Kamalov was shot dead in December 2011.
Journalist Khadzhimurad Kamalov was shot dead in December 2011.
Murad Shuaybov, who is a suspect in the December 2011 murder of Daghestani journalist Khadzhimurad Kamalov, is under pressure to incriminate Daghestani parliamentarian Shamil Isayev and Deputy Interior Minister Magomed Magomedov in that killing, according to Shuaybov’s lawyer, Ruslan Omarov.

Omarov also said Shuaybov is being pressured to name former Makhachkala Mayor Said Amirov as the person who ordered Kamalov's assassination. Amirov was arrested on June 1 and is currently being held in pretrial detention in Moscow on suspicion of having commissioned another contract killing.

The alleged involvement of Murad Shuaybov, his brother Magomed, and two men with links to Isayev in the murders of Kamalov and of a second Daghestani journalist, Malik Akhmedilov, in August 2009 has been meticulously documented by journalist Orkhan Djemal in two articles published in Kamalov’s newspaper"Chernovik" in April and June.

Isayev has brought a libel suit against Djemal in connection with those articles. But that did not deter the website from publishing an article authored by residents of Sogratl, the home village of Isayev, Kamalov, and Akhmedilov, addressing 30 pointed questions to Isayev in connection with the murders.

Djemal launched his own investigation into Kamalov's death because the official probe was stalled -- even though 120,000 Daghestanis signed an open letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin last year asking him to take the investigation under his personal supervision.

According to Djemal, Shuaybov was arrested in Makhachkala in December 2012 for illegal possession of a firearm. He and his brother were subsequently implicated in the murder of Akhmedilov by Magomed Bakhulov, a counterfeiter and former police officer arrested in Moscow. Murad Shuaybov was initially charged with Akhmedilov's murder and then that of Kamalov.

At that point, Magomed Shuaybov was already serving a prison term for the murder of a Daghestani district official.

Murad Shuaybov reportedly told investigators that he and Isayev's driver Isa Abdurakhmanov killed Akhmedilov on orders from Magomed Abigasanov, the head of Isayev's security retinue, who was also the manager of a restaurant reportedly owned by Isayev.

Djemal said Shuaybov also named those in addition to himself who participated in killing Kamalov: his brother Magomed Shuaybov, Abigasanov, and Magomed Khamazov, a distant relative of Kamalov.

It was apparently Khamazov and Murad Shuaybov who fired the shots that killed Kamalov, who reportedly yelled at Khamazov with his dying breath "I know you, you b**ch, I always thought it would be you."

Djemal's article is accompanied by what appears to be scanned police documentation identifying those men as the perpetrators of the two killings and referring to "operative information" that they were acting on orders from Isayev.

Djemal explains that there was ill-feeling between the parliamentarian and Akhmedilov, who criticized in print the behavior of a group of construction workers engaged in building a house in Sogratl for Isayev’s brother Rizvan.

As for Kamalov, Djemal says he incurred the wrath of Deputy Interior Minister Magomedov by criticizing the police handling of a "counterterror operation" in June 2008 in which another man from Sogratl, philologist Rashid Gazilaliyev, and his wife, were shot dead. Magomedov then allegedly personally planted weapons in their apartment and Gazilaliyev was branded an insurgent.

The Interior Ministry responded to Kamalov's criticism by issuing a statement dated September 27, 2008. Djemal appends a scanned copy of this document courtesy of an unnamed contact in Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB), naming Kamalov and some 30 other persons from Sogratl as members of a group that was conspiring to overthrow the constitutional order.

The alleged plotters conducted an investigation that suggested Magomedov was behind that statement, which the FSB took no action on.

Djemal also writes that in the wake of Kamalov’s murder, the Isayev brothers transferred the ownership of a car-repair workshop in Makhachkala to the wives of Magomed and Murad Shuaybov.

Djemal's account is, however, at odds with statements by Murad Shuaybov's lawyers. They say that following his arrest he was transported to Vladikavkaz, where he was held in solitary confinement and, he claims, tortured to force him to confess to the murders of Kamalov and Akhmedilov, and to implicate Abdurakhmanov in the death of Akhmedilov.

It should be noted that Djemal does not mention Amirov in either article.

It was only in late July, almost two months after Amirov's arrest, that Shuaybov's lawyer said his client was under pressure to implicate Amirov in Kamalov's death. At the same time, Amirov had every reason to dislike Kamalov, who had criticized Amirov openly on more than one occasion.

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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