Kurbanov, who was elected two years ago to the State Duma on the ticket of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, was identified as the person who uploaded to YouTube on January 14 a five-minute video clip of two prominent Daghestani members of the North Caucasus insurgency. As of January 18, the account from which the clip had been uploaded has been closed.
In an extended interview with RFE/RL’s North Caucasus Service on January 20, Kurbanov denied any connection to the video clip or the YouTube account. He attributed the attempt to compromise him, which he characterized as the latest in a series of “petty disgusting acts,” to “ideologists of separatism and terrorism,” meaning the leaders of North Caucasus insurgency. He implied that the leaders in question were angered by the success of a state commission he chaired in persuading dozens of young militants to lay down their arms.
Kurbanov, 53, began his career in the Daghestan Prosecutor-General’s Office before transferring in 2004 to the federal Justice Ministry’s representation in the Central Federal District. During his two years as Daghestan’s first deputy premier he spearheaded a campaign to close illegal gambling dens and chaired the state commission set up by then Daghestani President Magomedsalam Magomedov to assist insurgents who had not committed serious crimes to return to civilian life. Kurbanov said he disagreed with the decision by Magomedov’s successor, Ramazan Abdulatipov, to downgrade that commission, which is now virtually defunct.
As a State Duma deputy, Kurbanov was one of the authors of the law passed a year ago empowering the legislatures of federation subjects to abolish direct elections for the post of republic head.
The incriminating video clip shows Abu Mukhammad Agachaulsky, amir of the Makhachkala insurgency sector, announcing the appointment as amir of Makhachkala of a fighter likewise named Abu Mukhammad, who makes a brief appeal for support.
That second fighter, posthumously identified as Makhmud Aliyev, was one of four killed during a “special operation” in Semender, on the outskirts of Makhachkala, during the night of January 17-18.
The previous Makhachkala amir, Murad Kasumov (Amir Abdu-Nur), was killed on November 16 together with four other fighters in a similar “special operation” in Semender.
-- Liz Fuller
NOTE TO READERS: This blog post has been updated to incorporate the interview with Kurbanov.