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Murder of National Guard officer prompts calls for closure of nightclubs in Daghestan

21 November 2018
Dragon Hall night club (/Geometria)

A number of public organisations and prominent people in the Russian Republic of Daghestan have called for the authorities to close down all nightclubs in the republic. Calls intensified after 26-year-old National Guard officer Murad Ramazanov was shot dead outside a club in the early hours of Sunday.

According to the Daghestani Investigative Committee, Ramazanov was killed in a shootout near the Best nightclub, in the republic’s capital, Makhachkala.

A spokesperson for the Investigative Committee told OC Media, that the shootout occurred after Ramazanov attempted to break up a fight between a group of drunk athletes. According to them, one of the athletes began shooting, after which Ramazanov returned fire, wounding one other person.

One of the men, Khaskil Yakubov, then reportedly snatched Ramazanov’s service weapon and fired it at him, before fleeing the scene.

On Tuesday, the authorities announced they were conducting a federal manhunt for Yakubov on suspicion of Ramazanov’s murder.

Calls to close nightclubs

Immediately following Ramazanov’s murder, a number of posts by Dagestani public figures, including champion UFC fighter Khabib Nurmagomedov, calling for nightclubs in the republic to be closed began to appear online.

Actor Eldar Iraziyev addressed ‘all the owners of Dagestani nightclubs’ via his Instagram page.

‘I know many of you personally, we have pretty good relationships’, Iraziyev said, but urged them to ‘leave this dirty business’.

‘This is not the first murder, shootout, stabbing. And you bring this dirty money to your family and feed your children. This is wrong’.

Iraziyev proposed to open children’s entertainment centres on the site of nightclubs instead.

Olympic freestyle wrestling gold medallist Abdurashid Sadulayev echoed this sentiment.

‘We are mountaineers who call ourselves Muslims! …  Is this dirty money more precious for you than your honor and dignity?’, he posted to his Instagram page.

8 public organisations representing the interests of three Daghestani ethnic groups began appealing to the authorities to close down nightclubs in the republic several days before the killing.

Absaludin Murzayev, chairman of the National Council of the Kumyk People, told OC Media that the issue had been raised long ago since nightclubs and karaoke clubs were ‘breeding grounds for debauchery, drug addiction, and alcoholism, contributing the awakening of base, animal instincts in the younger generation’.

Zulfiya Magomedova, chair of the public organisation the Committee of Soldiers’ Mothers, told the Makhachkalinskiye Izvestiya newspaper that it was not necessary to close nightclubs, but to educate children and young people, make parents more responsible, and strengthen educational work in schools and universities.

In an interview with radio station Govorit Moskva, Dagestan’s Minister of Youth Affairs Kamil Saidov denied that any nightclubs existed in the republic, only ‘members-only cafés and restaurants and karaoke bars’.

‘If there are no places for young people to rest in the republic, they will leave the region’, Saidov said, adding that ‘a situation with a fatal outcome could occur in any other place’.

He suggested that the owners of such places should strengthen their security, and insisted the Ministry of Youth Affairs regularly conducted educational activities against the sale of alcohol and drugs.

Entertainment venues owned by FSB, the Interior Ministry, prosecutor’s office

In July 2018, the Youth Health public organisation submitted an appeal to the authorities to investigate several nightclubs they said were being used by officials to launder money and which were operating without licenses to sell alcohol and tobacco.

The groups appealed to Prosecutor of Daghestan Denis Popov, Minister of Internal Affairs Abdurashid Magomedov, and director of the Dagestani Federal Security Service (FSB) Oleg Usov.

‘Such karaoke clubs as Perse, Art-Voice, Aura, Dragon Hall, Best, located in the capital of the republic, Makhachkala, are owned by employees of your departments’ the group said in their appeal.

‘Perse, Art-Voice is a venue of the Department for Economic Crimes of the Ministry of the Interior of Daghestan, the owner of the AURA Club is the head of the Psychiatric Medical and Forensic Examination, Dragon Hall and Best belong to the staff of the Prosecutor’s Office of Dagestan, the FSB and a former employee of the Dagestani Investigative Committee’, the statement continued.

The Dagestani Prosecutor’s Office responded to the appeal five months later. On 19 November, they announced that after conducting an investigation, the Aura Club was fined for violating fire safety rules, labour laws, and counter-terrorism laws.

A spokesperson for the Prosecutor’s Office told OC Media that all the venues named in the appeal by Youth Health were inspected for violations, but that the results were still not known for the other venues.

The spokesperson said it was not possible any of the clubs mentioned belonged to employees of the prosecutor’s office because ‘prosecutors do not have the right to do business, and when applying for a job, this was checked repeatedly’.

They spokesperson also said they were not planning to conduct mass inspections of nightclubs following Ramazanov’s murder, due to laws protecting the rights of entrepreneurs. Inspections could only be conducted if an official appeal is submitted, they said.

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