Defence demands ex-head of Daghestan appear in ‘fake kidnapping’ trial

9 July 2018
Ramazan Abdulatipov and Magomed Omarov (rossiyskie-novosti.ru)

The former head of Daghestan, Ramazan Abdulatipov, may be questioned as a witness in two high-profile criminal cases involving Daghestani officials. Defence lawyers in two cases — a multi-million rouble embezzlement scheme and a kidnapping attempt on the former minister of construction — have said he could be a key figure.

There have been calls for Abdulatipov to be called in the case of the ‘kidnapping’ of Daghestan’s former minister of construction, Ibragim Kazibekov. Konstantin Mudunov, representing Magomed Omarov, the alleged mastermind behind the kidnapping, told OC Media Abdulatipov’s testimony would be crucial. Omarov was appointed head of the Daghestani Parliament’s security detail by Abdulatipov.

According to Daghestani daily Chernovik, Mudunov wants to establish on what grounds and on whose recommendations Abdulatipov appointed Omarov as well as whether the two met to discuss Kazibekov’s kidnapping, and whether Abdulatipov’s resignation was connected with the case.

Omarov’s trial began on 15 May and in June, the prosecution’s witnesses were questioned. According to Mudunov, the trial has now been adjourned until 9 August.

After the court hearings on 2 July, Mudunov told OC Media his request to question Abdulatipov had been rejected. He said he intended to keep requesting that Abdultipov and other high-ranking Daghestani officials appear before the court.

A ‘fake’ abduction

Kazibekov’s abduction was first reported on 20 July 2017. The alleged kidnappers, brothers Yakhya and Zalkep Aliskantov were detained the following day during the transfer of  $475,000 of the $1.6 million ransom.

Ibragim Kazibekov (inkazan.ru)

In August, investigators claimed the organiser of the kidnapping was the head of the Department of Extra-Departmental Protection of the Troops of the National Guard in Daghestan and a relative of the Aliskantov brothers, Magomed Omarov.

Zalkep Aliskantov pled guilty and on 20 April and was sentenced to nine years in prison for kidnapping Kazibekov. According to Chernovik, evidence against Omarov, the alleged organiser of the kidnapping, is entirely based on Aliskantov’s testimony.

According to the investigators’ version of events, Omarov ordered Aliskantov to perform the kidnapping, who asked his friend Khabib Azizov to help him find more people for the job. Azizov and his friend Shamil Bogatyryov allegedly reported the crime to the police, who staged the entire kidnapping. Omarov did not take part in the staging. According to this version of events, Omarov and Zalkep Aliskantov were the only ones planning the kidnapping, while everyone else involved was cooperating with the police.

Omarov’s lawyer told OC Media that the criminal case against his client was illegal. According to him, Kazibekov was not kidnapped and the case was built on the results of a falsified search. He said that both the kidnapping and the extortion was staged by the authorities, as well as the alleged report by Azizov and Bogatyryov.

Kazibekov flees

While the investigation into his kidnapping was under way, Kazibekov fled — according to the Daghestani police, abroad. In February 2018 he was charged with overstating the cost of housing during the implementation of a federal programme to relocate inhabitants of derelict buildings, and in March was placed on an international wanted list.

Daghestan’s Supreme Court ruled that Omarov’s trail could still go ahead despite Kazibekov not being present.

‘It will be impossible to conclude the investigation without Kazibekov’s presence. I think he isn’t hiding, but he’s being hidden, so that he doesn’t appear in court and doesn’t give evidence’, Omarov’s lawyer told Chernovik.

Mudunov told OC Media that this case could be an attempt to conceal another crime connected to the embezzlement of millions of dollars in state funds.

₽100 million embezzlement scheme

There have also been calls for Daghestan’s former head, Ramazan Abdulatipov, to appear as a witness in a separate, unrelated trial. Dagir Khasavov, a lawyer representing former deputy chair of Daghestan’s Government Rayudin Yusufov, has called for Abdulatipov to appear in his client’s trial.

Yusufov is accused of embezzling more than ₽100 million ($1.6 million) during the construction of schools, kindergartens, and infrastructure projects in Daghestan. He was detained in February 2018. According to Kommersant, much of the spending in the case was approved by Abdulatipov and his testimony might be crucial to the case.

[Read on OC Media: Searches and detentions in Daghestan — ‘the Kremlin’s tactics of strengthening its power’]

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