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The Wahhabi Rule Dagestan

Posted by Kris Roman on June 10, 2009

By Yulia Latynina

Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgirei Magomedtagirov was killed by a sniper on Friday. He had been attending the wedding of the daughter of his friend, the chief of the local Interior Ministry’s economic crimes department. The wedding was held at The Marrakesh, the most popular restaurant in Makhachkala, where guests have to make reservations for the banquet hall three months in advance and where drunken shootouts happen at least once a month.

Contrary to official reports, which claimed that the sniper used a rifle typically used by special police forces, the shots were fired from a machine gun from the ninth floor of an adjacent building.

That explains why Magomedtagirov was riddled with bullets and why eight police officers who had been standing nearby were also injured, including Magomedtagirov’s brother, Sokhratulla, and Abduzhapar Magomedov, the head of the economic crimes department. Why would the sniper lose precious time shooting at so many people with a rifle?

The killing has generated a wave of absurd statements. For example, it has been alleged that the special forces betrayed Magomedtagirov and that several snipers took part in the attack, presumably to explain away the high number of victims. Just imagine a horde of snipers, all elbowing and stumbling over one another to use the same rifle and fire from the same vantage point to mow down Dagestan’s top police officials. Dagestani President Mukhu Aliyev even announced that the minister had been “lured” to the wedding with the help of members of the “dishonest” law enforcement agencies.

There are celebrations at The Marrakesh restaurant every day. The killers had only to rent a room in the nine-storey building across the street and wait until the minister showed up. After all, everyone knows three months in advance when and where a wedding will take place. Moreover, the likelihood that Magomedtagirov would show up at the wedding of his high-ranking subordinate’s daughter should have come as no surprise to anyone — except perhaps to Aliyev.

All of this nonsense demonstrates one simple fact: The authorities are scared. They are scared to admit the obvious fact that the insurgents are getting hold of more money, and this means that they can now shoot better. That is why we hear so many ridiculous statements about “dishonest police” and about multiple snipers who fight over a single gun.

Several years ago, everyone in Dagestan was happy about its new president, Aliyev, because he didn’t kill people or take bribes. He still doesn’t, but this also meant that he didn’t have the two main tools that are required to rule in Dagestan — money and guns. As a result, the power vacuum in Dagestan was quickly filled by the Wahhabi.

Interestingly enough, only a couple of years ago the Wahhabi were just a marginal force in the republic — something like the Red Brigades in Italy. But as soon as they became an influential force, people began paying them protection money. With the new funds, the Wahhabi obtained better weapons and became more proficient at hitting their targets.

Aliyev is busy bouncing from one Moscow government office to another, trying to resolve problems over his bete noire, oligarch Suleiman Kerimov, or trying to secure a second term in office.

Meanwhile, Russia is losing the Caucasus.

Yulia Latynina hosts a political talk show on Ekho Moskvy radio.


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