Publication: North Caucasus Weekly Volume: 7 Issue: 45

Vyacheslav Izmailov, military columnist for Novaya gazeta, wrote in the bi-weekly’s November 20 edition that back on October 21, two weeks after the murder of the newspaper’s Chechnya correspondent, Anna Politkovskaya (Chechnya Weekly, October 12), another leading opponent of Ramzan Kadyrov, former Chechen vice premier and Grozny mayor Bislan Gantamirov, had come to the newspaper’s offices. According to Izmailov, Gantamirov told the newspaper’s editors, along with a member of the law-enforcement team investigating Politkovskaya’s murder who was on hand, that several groups of Kadyrov’s siloviki were in Moscow to liquidate him – Gantamirov – and Movladi Baisarov, and that members of these groups had already murdered Politkovskaya. Gantamirov told the newspaper that he had known about the arrival of these hit teams a month before Politkovskaya’s murder and had asked his brother to warn her.

Izmailov reported that on October 17, Moscow police detained two residents of Chechnya who had police IDs, special passes allowing them to move around without being stopped by police and pistols with silencers along with a “Val” rifle capable of penetrating an armor-plated automobile. According to Izmailov, after the two Chechens were detained, several people from the Interior Ministry and the FSB who were apparently acting not on orders but out of “some kind of personal considerations” tried to intervene on their behalf. They included an FSB lieutenant colonel who tried to get the Chechens freed but was subsequently fired from the agency and questioned by the Prosecutor General’s Office. However, the “two Kadyrovite policemen with the hit-men’s arsenal” were subsequently released, Izmailov wrote, adding that this was “totally unexpected even for some high-ranking members of the law-enforcement bodies.”

In a separate article published in the November 20 edition of Novaya gazeta, Vyacheslav Izmailov wrote about the November 15 arrest in Grozny of Sultan Isakov, head of the secretariat of the Chechen government’s commission for compensation payments. According to Izmailov, the arrest was the result of a joint operation by the Chechen branch of the FSB and the republican prosecutor’s office, and capped an investigation into the large-scale theft of payments owed to residents of Chechnya as compensation for the destruction of their homes during the war. Isakov, a protégé of Ramzan Kadyrov, was allegedly directly involved in these machinations. Kadyrov himself chairs the republican commission for compensation payments. Izmailov reported that the leadership of the Chechen Interior Ministry, which is completely controlled by Kadyrov, was not told about the investigation of Isakov. His arrest, Izmailov wrote, represents “the first real confrontation between federally-subordinated republican power bodies and Kadyrov, and is aimed, we believe, at curbing the overreaching premier.”