Publication: Monitor Volume: 4 Issue: 99

Khachilaev is a typical representative of the “new wave” of Dagestani politicians. Until recently, he was completely unknown in the religious world. His fame was of another sort entirely. Above all, he was known as a great athlete (the republic’s karate champion) and as one of the richest people in Dagestan. His three-story house in the center of Makhachkala was designed by his personal architect. Guards are on duty in the house’s foyer round the clock, monitoring what is going on outside on closed-circuit television. Khachilaev’s pride and joy is his special prayer hall on the third floor, which can hold three hundred people. He also has an estate in the mountains with a pool and a private zoo. He once had his own helicopter as well, but it was shot down by the Russian army by mistake during the war in Chechnya. How a former athletic instructor, who receives a salary of about $100 per month got such wealth is not quite clear: Khachilaev himself always dodged the question. But the answer of another of the richest men in the republic, Nadir’s older brother and close associate Magomed Khachilaev (whose people also took part in the storming of the government building yesterday) is typical: “Some people are surprised that I am so wealthy. But first of all, I am a businessman, and second, I have many friends all over Russia, and they help me: they give me things for free, or at very low prices.”

After the Soviet collapse, the government in Dagestan was divided between the old communist nomenklatura and a new wave of politicians who, as a rule, are leaders of large mafia groups. All of the so-called national movements of the peoples of Dagestan (and the Dagestani branch of the Union of Russian Muslims) have well-armed detachments of fighters, who serve as bodyguards.

Even his Duma colleagues do not know Khachilaev well. Duma Speaker Gennady Seleznev got Khachilaev’s last name right only on the third try. According to Aleksandr Shokhin, leader of the Russia is Our Home faction of which Khachilaev was, until recently, a member, Khachilaev hardly ever attended sessions of the faction, and attended Duma sessions only rarely. “He would just give someone his deputy’s card and have him vote on his behalf,” Shokhin said. (NTV, May 21)