Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 4 Issue: 43

In a bizarre incident that may have been deliberately planned to discredit parliamentary candidate Salambek Maigov, Grozny police briefly detained a member of his campaign staff last week. Maigov, one of the ten candidates running for Chechnya’s seat in the federal Duma, was campaigning in Urus-Martan on November 19 when he received word that a crowd had gathered in Grozny under the impression that he was supposed to be appearing before them. According to a November 21 article by Yelena Shesternina in Russky kurier, Maigov’s deputy campaign manager, Ibragim Umarkhadzhiev, immediately drove to Grozny to sort out the confusion. On arriving there he found a crowd of about 200 people shouting that Maigov had promised to bring with him some Chechens who previously had been kidnapped.

As Umarkhadzhiev tried to explain to his listeners that someone must have deliberately deceived them, police officers appeared on the scene and arrested him for holding an illegal campaign rally. According to Shesternina, he was held for about four hours at a police station before being released.

Umarkhadzhiev denied rumors that had immediately begun to fly about Chechnya. “It wasn’t a kidnapping,” he told Shesternina, “just an illegal detention.”

Maigov is the most controversial and probably the most vulnerable of the race’s candidates. He served as separatist president Maskhadov’s representative in Moscow earlier this year and then, in August, resigned from that post because of policy disagreements within Maskhadov’s circle. Thus he now has enemies among both separatist and anti-separatist Chechens.