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Middle east

Chechen politician masterminded assassination, police say

Latest update : 2009-04-06

Dubai police have accused a deputy prime minister of Chechnya of masterminding the assassination of former Chechen military commander Sulim Yamadayev in the underground car park of a luxury seaside apartment block.

REUTERS - Dubai police accused a deputy prime minister of Chechnya of masterminding the assassination of former Chechen military commander Sulim Yamadayev in an underground car park.

The attack on Yamadayev, a foe of Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov, was carried out with a Russian-made gold-coloured handgun, police said, showing the media a picture of a weapon and a pair of black gloves.

Yamadayev was shot on March 28 in the car park of a luxury seaside apartment block in Dubai, one of seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates.

Russian analysts suggested his death removed one of the last remaining powerful opponents of Kadyrov's increasingly strong control over Chechnya. Kadyrov's spokesman has dismissed any suggestion that the killing was linked to the Chechen president.

"The leads in the case indicate that a top official in the Chechen government named Adam Delimkhanov, who is the deputy prime minister in Chechnya, is the mastermind behind Sulim Yamadayev's assassination," the Dubai police chief, Lieutenant General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, told reporters on Sunday.

"The crime ... is 100 percent of Chechen making and it's an operation of settling accounts (among Chechens)," Tamim said.

Delimkhanov said the accusation was a "provocation".

"The Dubai police chief's statements ... aim to destabilise Chechen society," he told Russia's RIA news agency. "The (Dubai) police have failed to hold a professional investigation."

"I am ready to cooperate with police ... and answer concrete questions," said Delimkhanov, who is also a deputy of the State Duma lower house of Russia's parliament. "But I will also fight to bring them to justice for slander."

Police said they were holding two suspects in connection with the killing and would seek an international arrest warrant for four others, including Delimkhanov.

A Russian prosecutor, who declined to be named, told Itar-Tass news agency that, in line with the law, Russia would not hand over any suspects even if Moscow received extradition requests but added they could be tried in Russia if there was evidence of them being involved in a serious crime abroad.

Yamadayev was the fifth Chechen living abroad to be killed in the past six months.

Kadyrov, 32, has pleased the Kremlin by calming the restive and mostly Muslim province -- which fought two separatist wars against Moscow -- but human rights activists have expressed alarm at extrajudicial killings and forced Islamisation.

Once one of Chechnya's most powerful men, Yamadayev was a former rebel who switched sides and backed the Kremlin, becoming a decorated military leader.

He had challenged Kadyrov for control of local security forces until last year, when he was dismissed from command of an elite battalion and forced to flee.

Yamadayev fought against Russia in the first Chechen war of 1994-96, when Moscow suffered a humiliating defeat and had to pull out of the separatist southern province.

He became commander of the Vostok battalion, a unit of battle-hardened former rebels which local media said was linked to Russia's powerful military intelligence agency, the GRU.

Date created : 2009-04-06