Akhmad Kadyrov has appointed Umar Dzhabrailov, one of the wealthiest members of Moscow’s Chechen community, to represent the republic in the Federation Council, the upper house of the federal parliament. The surprise appointment was announced by Kadyrov’s office on January 5.
The Kadyrov-controlled website “Chechnyafree” carried an account of the appointment with a brief biography of Dzhabrailov, but omitted one crucial fact: The new senator is the brother of Khusein Dzhabrailov, who helped turn last fall’s Chechen presidential election into a one-man race by his abrupt withdrawal in September. Many wondered at the time what the Dzhabrailov family’s reward would be; we now know at least part of the answer.
Umar Dzhabrailov’s one previous venture into active political life came four years ago, when he ran for president of Russia. In that race he came in last, receiving less than one-tenth of 1 percent of the nationwide vote.
In a January 5 article for Gazeta.ru, Maria Tsvetkova quoted Kadyrov as praising his new appointee as one “who has superb knowledge of the situation in the Chechen republic.” During his campaign for president last year, Kadyrov had criticized his opponents (including Dzhabrailov’s brother) for not having lived continuously in Chechnya like himself.
The Gazeta.ru article also noted that “until now Dzhabrailov was better known not for his principled political positions but for having been involved in several criminal scandals.” One of these was the June 2002 assassination attempt on Moscow Deputy Mayor Iosif Ordzhonikidze. The body of a Dzhabrailov cousin, allegedly killed by Ordzhonikidze’s bodyguards, was found at the scene of the attack on the deputy mayor’s car. According to a January 5 article on the website Grani.ru, the investigation into that murder is nearing its conclusion and Kadyrov’s new representative in Moscow may soon find his senatorial immunity useful.
Better known to Americans is the 1996 murder of U.S. businessman Paul Tatum, who had been Dzhabrailov’s business partner until the two fell into a bitter dispute over control of a luxury hotel in Moscow. A few weeks after Tatum’s murder, which the Russian authorities have never solved, the State Department revoked Dzhabrailov’s visa for entry into the United States.