The Mayor of Makhachkala, Musa Musayev, has been arrested on corruption charges, and is being held in a temporary detention facility. According to the prosecution, he gave away city land to a commercial firm worth ₽80 million ($1.4 million).
On the morning of 19 January, officers from the North Caucasus Investigative Committee and the Daghestani Federal Security Service (FSB) raided Musayev’s home as well as the city administration building.
On the same day, Musayev was arrested and a criminal case launched against him for abuse of office. According to the investigation, Musayev’s allocation of public land to a private company cost Daghestan ₽80 million ($1.4 million).
Judge Dalgat Gadzhiyev of the Sovetsky District Court ordered Musayev be placed in custody on 21 January for a period of 10 days, and he was transferred to a temporary detention facility following the hearing.
Caucasian Knot reported that investigators and the prosecutor asked the court to place Musayev in detention as he ‘could prevent an objective investigation of the criminal case and pressure witnesses’, and ‘might exert psychological pressure on his subordinates’.
On 22 January, the head of the Investigative Committee of Russia, Aleksandr Bastrykin, ordered the case be transferred to the North Caucasus Investigative Committee, who should check for any other wrongdoing on Musayev’s part.
According to Magomed Magomedov, an expert on Daghestan from Daghestani daily Chernovik, Musayev’s arrest came as a surprise to many.
‘The preconditions were there for launching a criminal case, rather than arrest and detention. We expected house arrest and a written statement to that affect’, he told OC Media.
Magomedov says that now Bastrykin has become involved, either other criminal cases will be opened or new charges will be brought in existing criminal cases.
‘Here, quite justifiably, several factors have come together. [Acting head of Daghestan, Vladimir Vasilyev,] needs to consolidate his authority in the republic, to show that he is in charge here. He also really believes that the state of justice here is not great. The third is that these checks can induce people to go into the elections resenting the current situation in the republic less’, Magomedov said.
Talking of the role of activists in Makhachkala who were fighting against unregulated construction in the city, Magomedov does not want to ‘overestimate their achievements’.
‘City activists can vocalize a problem, raise it to a certain level. But the question of launching a criminal case is a much deeper topic. If we look at the explanation for the launching of the criminal case, we can see that the land plot that is mentioned there has nothing to do with the activities of activists’, he said.
A ‘crackdown on corruption’
Unregulated construction in Makhachkala has found its way into a number of speeches by the acting head of Daghestan, Vladimir Vasilyev.
On 13 January, Russia’s ‘Day of the Press’, Vasilyev met with journalists and spoke about the issue. He said there would be a ‘shrinking of the executive apparatus’ and hinted that they would get rid of ‘people who can’t work’.
Reports emerged late last year that the authorities were planning to ‘audit’ the region. At a meeting with the Daghestan’s Council of Elders (a traditional advisory council), Vasilyev said he had asked President Putin to send a group of independent auditors to the republic. A total of 38 prosecutors and around 40 experts and consultants are expected to arrive for the task.