- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 5, 2009

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES (AP) - Dubai authorities accused a close ally of Chechnya’s Kremlin-backed president on Sunday of masterminding a brazen midday assassination of a decorated Chechen war veteran.

The allegation could have broad implications for President Ramzan Kadyrov, a former rebel now closely allied with Moscow and its campaign to quell a 14-year insurrection in Chechnya.

Sulim Yamadayev, one of Kadyrov’s bitter foes, was gunned down on March 28 outside a busy residential complex along Dubai’s shoreline.

His slaying was the latest in a string of assassinations targeting Chechen renegades in and outside of Russia. Many observers have linked the killings to Kadyrov, who openly feuded with Yamadayev and his family. Kadyrov has denied involvement.

Dubai Police Chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim said Chechen authorities have not cooperated with the investigation and that “Russia is also responsible for untying the knot of this crime.”

Two men, an Iranian and a Tajik, who allegedly took part in the killing were in custody and four other suspects fled to Russia, Tamim told reporters. None has been charged.

Tamim said one of the four suspects was Adam Delimkhanov, a Chechen member of Russia’s lower house of parliament who is considered one of Kadyrov’s close friends and part of his inner circle. He’s also served as a vice prime minister of Chechnya.

One of the suspects in custody told authorities that Delimkhanov planned the slaying, Tamim said. One of the suspects also said Delimkhanov’s guards provided him with the gun used to kill Yamadayev, the police chief said.

“Our investigation found him (Delimkhanov) to be the mastermind of the assassination of Sulim Yamadayev,” Tamim said. The police chief said Dubai will seek Interpol’s help in arresting Delimkhanov and the three others.

Delimkhanov, 39, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying that he’d cooperate but also said he would demand accountability for the “clear slander” against him.

“The announcement of the Dubai police chief is a provocation and is aimed at destabilizing Chechen society,” he was quoted by RIA-Novosti as saying. “The police were unable to conduct a quality investigation.”

Yamadayev’s killing was the first politically motivated slaying in glitzy Dubai, and Tamim said there would be “no immunity in the United Arab Emirates for anybody who orders or masterminds a murder.”

“It’s very clear to us that the assassination of Sulim Yamadayev is a purely Chechen operation, which indicates settling scores in the UAE,” the police chief said.

It was not clear what Yamadayev was doing in Dubai, but the authorities said he arrived to the emirate four months ago on a Russian passport issued in the name of Sulaiman Madov.

Though it’s highly unlikely that Russia would turn Delimkhanov over to Dubai for prosecution, allegations or evidence tying a close Kadyrov associate to an assassination abroad would further taint Kadyrov _ and the Kremlin’s backing for him.

He took over the presidency in 2007 _ three years after his father, the former leader, was assassinated in a bomb blast. Since then, Kadyrov has presided over a virtual end to the large-scale fighting that destroyed the Chechen capital, Grozny, and sent thousands of Chechen refugees into neighboring North Caucasus republics.

He has overseen a remarkable rebuilding of Chechnya’s infrastructure as the Kremlin has poured money into the region in hopes of fighting the persistent poverty that has helped fuel the Islamic-inspired insurgency.

But as he consolidated his power, Kadyrov and his paramilitary forces have been accused repeatedly of torture, rampant kidnapping of civilians and other human rights abuses. Many of his critics and political rivals have been killed as Kadyrov has consolidated his power. Some have been gunned down on the streets of Moscow, including journalist Anna Politkovskaya, whose death in 2006 shocked the world.

Kadyrov has denied any involvement in the killings. The Kremlin also has ignored calls for international investigations into the human rights allegations; while then-President Vladimir Putin, who is now prime minister, awarded Kadyrov Russia’s highest honorary medal.

Yamadayev was also a contentious figure at home. Once a rebel leader battling Russia, he later switched sides and led a battalion of former rebels alongside the pro-Russian government.

Yamadayev had long-running tensions with Kadyrov, which exploded in April 2008. Kadyrov accused Yamadayev of involvement in abductions and murders, and an arrest warrant for him was issued.

Despite that, Yamadayev led his battalion to fight alongside the Russian military during Russia’s war with Georgia last August. He was discharged from the Russian army shortly after.

Yamadayev’s brother Ruslan was shot and killed in September during a busy afternoon rush hour near Russia’s main government building in Moscow. Sulim Yamadayev and his family left Russia not long after.

In January, a former bodyguard of Kadyrov was shot dead in Vienna after filing a criminal complaint against the president in June, accusing him of torture.


Associated Press writer Mike Eckel contributed to this report from Moscow.

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