The Kremlin’s Shameful Yamadayev Coverup

The Moscow Times reports:

When defector Alexander Litvinenko, a former security services officer who heaped invective on the Kremlin from exile in Britain, died of polonium poisoning in London in 2006, Russian prosecutors quickly opened a criminal probe into his death and sent investigators to London.

In the 10 days since the March 28 assassination in Dubai of Chechen strongman Sulim Yamadayev, a decorated Russian war hero who helped Russia crush the Georgian military last year, Russian authorities have barely acknowledged his death.  An Investigative Committee spokesman said Tuesday that a criminal probe had not been opened in connection with Yamadayev’s murder and would not say whether such a case would be opened in the future.

Spokespeople for the Kremlin and the Defense Ministry, to which Yamadayev directly reported, declined comment Tuesday. Neither Kremlin nor Defense Ministry officials had made public statements about the crime as of Tuesday evening.

In fact, the only extensive comments from officials are coming from Chechnya, where Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in recent days has repeated accusations that Yamadayev, his erstwhile rival, was a criminal involved in murders and kidnappings, appearing to tacitly imply that Yamadayev deserved his fate.

Political analysts say federal officials’ deafening silence on the murder of Yamadayev, a recipient of the Hero of Russia Order — one of the highest state awards — is part of an informal deal that the Kremlin has cut with Kadyrov, giving him free reign in all matters concerning Chechnya in exchange for loyalty and suppressing insurgency in the republic, political analysts say.

Dubai police have accused Kadyrov’s first cousin, State Duma Deputy Adam Delimkhanov, of ordering Yamadayev’s murder and have threatened to place him on Interpol’s wanted list.

Delimkhanov, whom Russian media has linked to the killing of another Kadyrov foe, Movladi Baisarov, has called the accusations a “provocation” and threatened to sue Dubai police for defamation. Kadyrov has also defended Delimkhanov, calling him his “right-hand man” and “a brother.”

The few cursory statements coming from Russian officials about Yamadayev’s death have been prompted primarily by probing reporters.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told a March news conference that the ministry had asked authorities in the United Arab Emirates for information about the crime but that it had received no response.

On Tuesday, Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov, whose United Russia faction counts Delimkhanov as its member in the lower house of parliament, declined to comment on a reporter’s question about Delimkhanov’s purported involvement in the murder, RIA-Novosti reported.

Only an unidentified official at the Prosecutor General’s Office, which opened the Litvinenko inquiry, has been quoted in the media about the Yamadayev murder, telling state-run news agencies Sunday that Russia would not extradite Delimkhanov to Dubai.

“The Kremlin’s deal with Ramzan [Kadyrov] was effectively unlimited powers in exchange for loyalty,” said Tatyana Stanovaya, an analyst with the Center for Political Technologies. “And even after this murder, Kadyrov still remains within the limits of this agreement. Thus, the Kremlin should also keep up its end of the bargain.”

Kadyrov has denied that he was involved in Yamadayev’s murder.

Kadyrov, who like Yamadayev was a former rebel, was handpicked by the Kremlin as the Chechen president in 2007. He proceeded to sideline other Chechen strongmen loyal to Moscow who might challenge his authority in the republic and could be seen by the Kremlin as a viable alternative to his rule.

Several of these potential rivals subsequently left Chechnya, including Yamadayev and his brother, Ruslan Yamadayev, who was assassinated in central Moscow in September.

“In Russia, it is not laws but rather informal agreements that define the Kremlin’s relations to regional bosses, and Ramzan has the most loosely controlled deal of all,” said Dmitry Oreshkin, an analyst with the Mercator think tank.

Kadyrov determines which prominent Chechens can remain in the republic and which Chechen separatists living in exile can return home to lead a normal life, often leaving federal officials to scramble for legal justifications of his actions and statements, Oreshkin said.

In the meantime, Russia’s political leadership is waiting until Dubai authorities disclose what evidence they have against Kadyrov’s ally before formulating an official reaction, political analysts say.

Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said Tuesday that he has “strong evidence” implicating Delimkhanov in the murder.

If Kadyrov “was not convinced by the evidence gathered by Dubai police” against Delimkhanov and believes that the accusations are “unreasonable, we suggest the involvement of an international team of investigators to view the evidence gathered by Dubai police,” Tamim said in a statement posted on the Dubai police web site.

Should Dubai police indeed have solid evidence, Russian officials would look “silly” defending Kadyrov and Delimkhanov, Stanovaya of the Center for Political Technologies said.

But the case against Delimkhanov is weak, Russian officials would be better off staying silent and not giving the investigation additional publicity by stepping into the fray, Stanovaya said.

It appears, however, that Moscow may be taking subtle steps to restrain Kadyrov in his push for absolute power in Chechnya. Three days after Yamadayev’s death, the Security Council refused to formally end counterterrorist operations in the republic.

The decision followed public statements by Kadyrov days earlier in which he described the lifting of the operations as a done deal.

A federal decision to end counterterrorism operations in Chechnya would mean pulling 20,000 federal troops out of the republic and disbanding military units manned by ethnic Chechens that report to the Defense Ministry in Moscow.

“Kadyrov makes no secret that he respects only sheer force,” Oreshkin said. “These military units in Chechnya are therefore the Kremlin’s biggest asset to secure Kadyrov’s loyalty.”

The Kremlin also has room to maneuver in the Yamadayev case because Yamadayev employed heavy-handed tactics in Chechnya and was involved in violent business disputes between Chechens, Stanovaya said. Because Yamadayev made so many enemies, Russian officials can avoid references to Kadyrov when commenting on the case and hint that Yamadayev was the victim of a revenge killing, she said.

There is also a small chance that Russian officials remain mum because they do not want to charge into a hidden game played by the intelligence services of Russia and the Gulf state, said Alexei Mukhin, an analyst with the Center for Political Information.

After all, Russian consular officials maintain that they have seen no proof that Yamadayev is dead, and as of Tuesday, Yamadayev’s brother, Isa Yamadayev, was still insisting that his brother was alive and being protected as a witness by the secret services of the United Arab Emirates, Interfax reported.

24 responses to “The Kremlin’s Shameful Yamadayev Coverup

  1. Also in MT:

    Delimkhanov — whose initials give him the nickname “AD,” or “hell” in Russian — is also a State Duma deputy from United Russia.

    In the Yamadayev case, the killer escaped, but he left behind a gold-plated handgun and an Armani jacket. The Chechens really know how to rub out a person in style.

    (…)

    Chechnya has become an independent power center. It now conducts its own “foreign policy” in Dubai, Vienna and other foreign cities. Chechnya is not a Russian republic like Tatarstan or Bashkortostan. Chechnya is Russia’s close ally to whom Moscow pays tribute.

    http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/1016/42/376025.htm

  2. “Kadyrov, who like Yamadayev was a former rebel, was handpicked by the Kremlin as the Chechen president in 2007. He proceeded to sideline other Chechen strongmen loyal to Moscow who might challenge his authority in the republic and could be seen by the Kremlin as a viable alternative to his rule.”

    Wrong. Actually he began doing this in 2004 (often “sideling” = killing).

    And before this he worked for his dad on the same thing (Akhmad Kadyrov’s main rival Beslan Gantamirov was an early victims – just exiled and still alive somehow).

    Some other names:
    -Baisarov (FSB commander killed by Delimkhanov in Moscow in 2006),
    -Alkhanov (inter-Kadyrov “president”, still alive in Moscow after he had surrendered – his former personal bodyguard was murdered in Moscow, though),
    -Dzhabrail Yamadayev (first Vostok commander, killed by a bomb in his own home),
    -Musa Gazimagomadov (Chechen OMON commander , dead in a mysterious “car accident”),
    -Rudnik Dudayev (Chechen Security Council head, dead in “an accidental fire” in his home) ,
    -Yan Sergunin (Russia, former “prime minister of Chechnya”, killed in Moscow),
    -former Grozny mayor whose name I don’t remember now, killed in Moscow last month,
    -and many others (not counting dozens of rank-and-file fighters/soldiers/policemen killed in clashes with the Kadyrovtsy).

    • I meant Sergunin was a Russian (the others were only “pro-Russian Chechen officials”).

      Oh, and as of Russians and “car accidents” – Ramzan became “prime minister” in 2006, officially after Sergei Abramov was heavily injured in one.

      Right now in the “Chechen government” there are not only no Russians, there are also no Chechens who were always loyal to Moscow (Alkhanov was such, and another “president” Zavgayev before him).

      • Oh, and Gazimagomadov’s “car accident” happened just before the Chechen “interior minister” Ruslan Tsakayev was forced to resign (in 2003, when Ramzan dad’s was forcing his way to “presidency”):

        http://www.watchdog.cz/?show=000000-000004-000001-000086&lang=1

        At first, Musa Gazimagomadov, commander of the special unit of the Ministry of Interior (OMON), became injured under mysterious circumstances. This happened during the time when Kadyrov forced the Chechen Interior Minister Ruslan Tsakayev to resign; a month later Tsakayev allegedly died of a heart attack. Rumor has it in Chechnya that a few days before his death, Tsakayev was badly beaten by a group of men led by Kadyrov’s son, Ramzan.

        Chechnya now has a new Interior Minister, Alu Alkhanov, who is Kadyrov’s supporter. The new OMON commander is called also Alkhanov – Ruslan Alkhanov. He is the former commander of Kadyrov’s security forces.

  3. In the meantime, some “words of wisdom” from the boss of the Chechen mafia:
    http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090407/120959179.html

    “We did not cross over. Don’t you mix things up. I was never for the federal forces or against the federal forces, I was always with the people. I am no traitor. We were with the people in the first campaign and with the people in the second campaign,” he said.

    When asked to confirm that he was maintaining the people were against Moscow in the first Chechen War and for Moscow in the second war, and he was simply following the will of the people in both, the former boxer said, “Yes. That’s it.”

    (…)

    “The man [Putin] who sat in the Kremlin trusted us completely. Without [Ahmad] Kadyrov he could not have done this. But without Putin, Kadyrov wouldn’t have been able to do anything,” Kadyrov went on.

    “I owe Putin my life,” he said. “If I forget that, I am no longer a man. When I have had terribly difficult times in my life, he has helped me. He is for me the most saintly person – wherever he is, whatever he is, be it a locksmith or a combine harvester driver…”

    • And some more still:
      http://en.rian.ru/russia/20090407/120956655.html

      Kadyrov told the Rossiiskaya Gazeta government daily that polygamy was necessary in the Russian republic of Chechnya, as there were many more women than men, and that they should all be “fixed up.”

      He also said that if an unmarried young girl or a divorced woman has sexual relations with men in the Muslim republic then “her brother will kill her and her man.”

  4. Robert, did you read Paul Goble’s article on Ramzan? http://windowoneurasia.blogspot.com/2009/04/window-on-eurasia-kadyrov-adopts.html
    What do you think? Also, what’s your take on Isa Yamadayev?

    • Isa is such nobody, just look at him:

      As I already wrote, Putin is not only a boss to Ramzan, but he rather treats him like an adoptive father (just like Delimkhanov is his “brother” now, after all the real brothers of Ramzan died).

    • As of:

      Looking back to the 1990s, Kadyrov said that if Dzhokhar Dudayev and Russian President Boris Yeltsin had been able to agree, then “there would not have been a war,” but Dudayev was not able to agree to the suggestion of Kadyrov’s father and predecessor that he denounce Khattab as “a foreign mercenary.”

      – Khattab came to Chechnya in 1995, already after Grozny fell to the Russian army.

      (And he was of course never a mercenary.)

  5. Wow! Isa does look like somebody’s punk brother. He also looks more Slavic than Chechen.
    All of Ramzan’s brothers are dead? I know about the drug addict (heroin, wasn’t it?), though I cannot remember his name.
    Also, the “brother” thing doesn’t surprise me too much. When I lived in Russia, I would have people tell me all the time, “this is my brother,” but then it would come out later that they were actually cousins.
    As to the “father” Putin thing, I think that Putin sees himself in Ramzan, and it makes him feel good to think, “I created this.” Even though, of course, that is not really true, and Slava Surkov had more of a role in Ramzan’s rise than anyone.

    • Isa should go to the MI6 (British Secret Intelligence Service), tell them everything you know, and ask for protection for himself and his remaining family.

      Drug addict and alcoholic Kadyrov was Zelimkhan. He was actually Ramzan’s older brother and died in 2004 from a heart attack after he overdosed.

      A funny Captain Kadyrov story:

      Zelimkhan Kadyrov, an officer in the Chechen Interior Ministry, was detained several days ago in the southern Russian town of Kislovodsk, for alleged hooliganism involving weapons, officials said Tuesday.
      http://www.russiajournal.com/node/15465

      (He got drunk and high and opened fire in a hotel.)

      • I meant “everything he knows”, of course. Like the second Litvinenko (and what Israilov had attempted) only this time the Brits would take this more seriously.

        Or the Americans too, I don’t think they would “reset” him despite all the current circus (and I thought Bush was bas in his appeasement of Putin).

        • Do you think the Brits did not take Litvinenko seriously? I was more under the impression that Litvinenko was involved in too many things for the Brits to protect him. The only thing that would have protected Litvinenko would have been something like Witness Protection (and I don’t think he would have stood for it).
          As for Israilov, the Austrians definitely did not take him seriously.
          The Americans would not even take Litvinenko. Why should we take the younger brother of a gang of dead warlords? I get where you are going with this, I just don’t see it happening.

  6. Also about:

    “A federal decision to end counterterrorism operations in Chechnya would mean pulling 20,000 federal troops out of the republic and disbanding military units manned by ethnic Chechens that report to the Defense Ministry in Moscow. “Kadyrov makes no secret that he respects only sheer force,” Oreshkin said. “These military units in Chechnya are therefore the Kremlin’s biggest asset to secure Kadyrov’s loyalty.” ”

    Oh geez. This Oreshkin fellow should get real – if there was a direct confrontation in the style of these of the old, Kadyrov’s hard boys would make total mincemeat of only 20,000 scaried Russians – many of them conscripts tricked into signing contracts.

    “Many in the Russian military and intelligence services believe the real enemy is not the remaining rebels but these Chechen military units,” Pavel Felgenhauer, an independent Moscow-based military analyst, said. “These Chechen units are the best equipped and battle-ready in the Russian army,” Felgenhauer said.
    http://www.reuters.com/article/latestCrisis/idUSL21716402

    Not to mention there are some 200,000 Russian troops in the region outside Chechnya.

  7. It appears, however, that Moscow may be taking subtle steps to restrain Kadyrov in his push for absolute power in Chechnya. Three days after Yamadayev’s death, the Security Council refused to formally end counterterrorist operations in the republic.

    The reason may be simpler that desire to restrain Kadyrov. Federal troops earn three days for one served in the areas of active counter terrorist operations (CTO). Given that Chechnya is much less dangerous for federals than neighboring Dagestan and Ingushetia, and the rewards are much higher, siloviki were adamantly against ending CTO designation for Chechnya.

    • Felix, the Security Council is another issue entirely. Theoretically, Medvedev controls the Security Council, but he obviously doesn’t. Look at the permanent members. Not one of them is going to stick their neck out for him.

      Not to mention the fact that the Siloviki did not want Kadyrov in the first place. Kadyrov was all Slava Surkov’s doing.

  8. Ruslan Yamadayev Suspect Detained
    http://www.themoscowtimes.com/article/600/42/376053.htm

    The announcement, which came after Dubai police accused State Duma Deputy Adam Delimkhanov of masterminding Sulim Yamadayev’s murder, might be an attempt to divert suspicion away from Delimkhanov and his relatives, who include Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, analysts said.

    Unidentified law enforcement officials told the Rosbalt news agency that they believed Ruslan Yamadayev was killed by a Chechen group including former Grozny Deputy Mayor Gilani Shapiyev, his bodyguard Khalid Molochayev and Aslan Diliyev, a former adviser to Kadyrov. Shapiyev was shot dead in western Moscow in February.

    (…)

    Meanwhile, a third Yamadayev brother, Isa, insisted Wednesday that Sulim was alive and in the hospital. “He is feeling better,” he told Interfax.

  9. So is Isa lying, or telling the truth? And either way, what purpose does he think it serves? To put the fear of God into AD and Ramzan? For attention? Isn’t Isa the one who claims that Ramzan has a hit-list of exiles?

  10. Lavrov, breaking nearly two weeks of government silence about Yamadayev’s death, said Moscow is waiting to receive “any kind of official report” from the United Arab Emirates that Yamadayev was killed, RIA-Novosti reported.
    http://www.moscowtimes.ru/article/1010/42/376152.htm

    Dubai police chief Dhahi Khalfan Tamim said Thursday that two suspects in custody, a Tajik and an Iranian, have provided police with more than just “ordinary confessions” about the slaying, the National reported. He did not elaborate. Tamim reiterated an earlier call for Russian authorities to hand over Delimkhanov. “Delimkhanov is officially wanted by Interpol, and we will do our best to get him.

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