Authorities in the United Arab Emirates this past week accused Adam Delimkhanov, the Russian State Duma deputy and first cousin of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov who is also the republic’s deputy prime minister, of being behind the March 28 murder of former Vostok special battalion commander Sulim Yamadaev in Dubai (North Caucasus Weekly, April 2).
The chief of Dubai’s police, Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan Tamim, claimed on April 5 that Delimkhanov masterminded the killing of Yamadaev. “The truth is that a big Chechen official, Adam Delimkhanov, the vice prime minister of Chechnya, has been identified as the mastermind behind the assassination of Sulim Yamadaev,” UAE’s The National newspaper on April 6 quoted Tamim as saying during a press conference at Dubai police headquarters the previous day. “It is clear to us that the assassination of Sulim Yamadaev was a dirty operation of settling scores, of a purely Chechen making, which has been dragged into foreign grounds.” As the Moscow Times reported on April 6, Tamim, during his April 5 press conference, denied Chechen media reports that an Arab Salafi group was behind Yamadaev’s slaying.
According to The National, Tamim said evidence against Delimkhanov included statements from two captured suspects in the shooting—described by the newspaper as an “Iranian national” and a man “of Tajik origin,” both Dubai residents—as well as a gold-plated pistol delivered to the assassin in Dubai, which was traced to Delimkhanov’s security guards. The Dubai police chief said the two suspects had played a “vital role” in the killing—including surveillance of Yamadaev and tipping off the killer about his location—and that both had named Delimkhanov as the mastermind. The National reported that Tamim showed reporters a photograph of the pistol, a Makarov, along with “other accessories,” including a black Armani hooded jacket worn by the killer, that were found near the crime scene. He said the gunman and the two other suspects fled to Russia on the night of the murder. The New York Times on April 6 quoted Tamim as saying that the weapon recovered near the crime scene resembled guns carried by Delimkhanov’s bodyguards, and that a witness in police custody had said the weapon had been given to assassins hired to kill Yamadaev.
According to The National, Yamadaev was shot in the back of the head as he stepped out of his white 4×4 Mercedes in the basement parking lot under the flat he shared with his wife and six children in Dubai’s Jumeirah Beach Residence. Tamim said Dubai police had been unaware of Yamadaev’s presence in the UAE prior to his assassination and that two unarmed Arab bodyguards who were with him at the time of murder are not suspected of any involvement in the killing. He also said that the Chechen authorities had not been co-operative and had claimed that it was Russia’s responsibility to keep such matters under control.
“Our official stance is firm and it is that anyone who violates our national security will face justice,” The National quoted Tamim as saying. “There will be no discrimination under any circumstance of color, nationality, race, religion or sex.” According to the newspaper, he also warned that “there will be no immunity for any person who orders, plans or carries out a murder and for that reason Delimkhanov will be placed on Interpol’s list of wanted criminals. Adam Delimkhanov is wanted by UAE justice. The UAE does not welcome any murderers, hitmen or outlaws.” Agence France-Presse quoted Tamim as saying that the three suspects who fled after Yamadaev’s murder, two Russians and a Kazakh, were also on the wanted list and that Russia must “take a firm position to rein in these killers.”
Tamim added that anyone with “bloody scores” to settle should not use UAE territory to do so, adding that the remaining suspects would also be followed through Interpol and that while some carried Russian citizenship, they could be Chechen. He also said that while one of the prime suspects is an Iranian national, the Iranian authorities have “no link” whatsoever to the killing.
The Iranian suspect in UAE custody was subsequently indentified as Mahdi Lournia. On April 7, Itar-Tass quoted the head of the information department of Tajikistan’s Foreign Ministry, Davlat Nazriev, as saying that a Tajik national named Maksudzhon Ismatov had been detained by Dubai police in connection with Yamadaev’s murder.
Meanwhile, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office announced on April 8 that a suspect had been detained in last September’s murder of Ruslan Yamadaev, the former State Duma deputy and Sulim Yamadaev’s brother, who was shot to death in Moscow. As the Moscow Times reported on April 9, unidentified law-enforcement officials told the Rosbalt News Agency that they believed Ruslan Yamadaev was killed by a Chechen group including former Grozny Deputy Mayor Gilani Shapiev, his bodyguard Khalid Molochaev and Aslan Diliev, a former adviser to Kadyrov. Shapiev was shot dead in western Moscow in February.
Commenting on the apparent breakthrough in the probe of Ruslan Yamadaev’s murder, Andrei Soldatov, editor of the Agentura.ru web site and an expert on Russian security services, told the Moscow Times that it appeared as if “they” are trying to create the impression that a group “not associated with the Kadyrov clan” sought to kill the Yamadaevs.