Publication: Monitor Volume: 7 Issue: 202

Dzhabrail Khachilaev, a Dagestani businessman and brother of former State Duma deputy Nadirshakh Khachilaev, has been arrested in connection with the murders this week of a deputy speaker in Dagestan’s parliament and of a local banker. On October 31, Arsen Kammaev, the deputy head of the People’s Assembly of Dagestan, and Abdulkhalik Musaev, head of the Dagestan branch of Promstroibank, were killed in a drive-by shooting in Makhachkala, Dagestan’s capital. The incident occurred around 10:30 p.m. local time when the banker, who had been visiting the parliamentary deputy speaker at his home, decided to leave and was accompanied by the deputy speaker outside. At that moment, a car passed by and someone inside opened fire. Kammaev was killed on the spot and, while Musaev managed to open fire on the attackers with his pistol, he also died from his wounds. The attackers’ car was later discovered abandoned and burned out (Russian media, October 31).

The newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported yesterday that the activities of the Dagestani branch of Promstroibank were not significant enough to spark the murder, and thus the murderers were probably after Kammaev, not Musaev. It is also known that Kammaev and Musaev, while friends, did not share business ties. Kammaev, however, did have powerful enemies–namely, the Khachilaevs. Before being elected to the People’s Assembly, Kammaev was head of the administration of Dagestan’s Novolaksk district and was one of those who helped organize the district’s defense against Islamist guerrillas who invaded from neighboring Chechnya in September 1999. During that crisis, Kammaev apparently came into conflict with Nadirshakh Khachilaev, who at that time was leader of the Union of Russian Muslims. Khachilaev even distributed leaflets calling on people to turn over the “dangerous criminal” Kammaev to a “Sharia court” (Nezavisimaya Gazeta, November 1).

Kammaev’s conflict with Nadir Khachilaev was a dangerous one, given that the latter is one of Dagestan’s most powerful mafia bosses. In 1998 Khachilaev was elected to a seat representing Dagestan in the State Duma. He became known throughout Russia, however, in May of that year, when his armed followers seized the government house in Makhachkala and held it for almost a full day. The armed takeover grew out of an incident in which police in the republic’s capital attempted to stop a car filled with Khachilaev’s bodyguards. Following the incident, Khachilaev was robbed of the immunity from criminal prosecution afforded him by his status as a State Duma deputy and was subsequently arrested by Russian law enforcement agents. The case against him, however, never made it to court and he was freed after several months. Many Russian analysts believe that Nadirshakh Khachilaev and the Kremlin cut a secret deal by which he would be freed in exchange for a promise to drop out of politics.