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Head Of Russia's Volatile Daghestan Hospitalized In Moscow

Vladimir Vasilyev gives an interview in Makhachkala in August 2018.

The head of Russia's North Caucasus region of Daghestan, Vladimir Vasilyev, has been hospitalized in Moscow with pneumonia.

The regional government's press service said on June 17 that Prime Minster Artyom Zdunov will be the volatile region's acting head during Vasilyev's absence.

Daghestan has been at the epicenter of a wave of violence by organized criminal groups linked to business turf wars, political disputes, clan rivalry, and the spread of militant Islam in recent years.

For the first time since the Soviet Union's collapse in 1991, President Vladimir Putin appointed outsiders Vasilyev and Zdunov to run Daghestan, a move that was seen by many as an attempt by Moscow to tackle corruption in the region.

The 69-year-old Vasilyev was a police lieutenant general and a former deputy interior minister before being appointed in 2017.

Zdunov, 41, previously economy minister in his native Volga region of Tatarstan, was appointed prime minister in February 2018, amid the arrests of several senior government officials charged with misusing funds from Russia's federal budget that were meant for social programs.