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Russian authorities conclude investigation into murder of Daghestan’s Chernovik newspaper founder

3 July 2020
Chernovik founder Khadzhimurad Kamalov. Photo: Chernovik.

The Investigative Committee of Russia has reportedly completed its investigation into the 2011 murder of Khadzhimurad Kamalov — the founder of independent Daghestani newspaper Chernovik.

Kamalov was shot dead outside the paper’s offices in the Daghestani capital Makhachkala on the night of 15–16 December 2011.

Three men have been charged with carrying out the killing, Murad Shuaybov, Magomed Khamazov, and Magomed Abigasanov. 

According to Kommersant, the investigation also lists an unidentified fourth person who was unhappy with Kamalov’s journalistic activities as ultimately being behind the murder.

Kamalov’s brother, Magdi-Magomed Kamalov, who now owns and runs Chernovik, told OC Media he was informed that investigators had concluded the investigation on Monday.

According to him, the unnamed suspect is Shamil Isayev — the former Deputy Prime Minister of the Government of Daghestan and a former MP in the local parliament. 

Isayev was sentenced in January to 4.5 years in prison for embezzling ₽50 million ($700,000) from the local budget.

Magdi-Magomed Kamalov said he did not accept the official conclusion, adding that he ‘does not want innocent people to be jailed’.

He said the Investigative Committee also informed him that they had now upped the charges from ‘murder’ to the more serious crime of ‘encroachment on the life of a state or public figure’ — something he and his colleagues had unsuccessfully fought for nine years ago.

The Investigative Committee did not respond to a request for comment.

The investigation ‘took the easy way out’

Magdi-Magomed Kamalov has insisted that the defendants are innocent of his brother’s murder.

He told OC Media that he had been conducting his own investigation from day one and that he had evidence of the innocence of Khazamov, Shuaybov, Abigasanov, and Isayev. He said he would present the evidence at their trial. 

He said he believed that the investigation ‘took the easy way’ and thus ‘the perpetrators may never be found’. 

Shamil Isaev in court. Photo: Ria.

He said that by accusing Shamil Isayev of ordering the murder, the Investigative Committee was trying to make the case ‘high profile’. According to him, Isayev had no motive to commit the crime.

He cited as a similar example the murder of a Daghestani journalist Gadzhi Abashilov in 2008. According to him, Abashilov’s son, Shamil Abashilov, ensured that the authorities dropped the charges against ‘innocent people’.

Allegations of torture

The three men charged over the killing are Murad Shuaybov, Magomed Khamazov, and Magomed Abigasanov. All three were residents of the village of Sogratl, in southern Daghestan’s Gunibsky District, where Khadzhimurad Kamalov was from.

According to investigators, Abigasanov was the ringleader of a ‘gang’ of the three of them. Novaya Gazeta has reported that  Abigasanov is Shamil Isayev’s second cousin and worked as his driver.

Asad Dzhabirov, a lawyer representing Shuaybov, told OC Media that two of the defendents, Shuaybov and Abigasanov, were already serving sentences for the 2009 murder of Malik Akhmedilov, a journalist from Daghestani newspaper Istina

Khazamov was sentenced in 2018 to three years for illegal storage of ammunition and drugs.

According to the Daghestani newspaper Novoye Delo, after being detained in 2015, Khazamov was held illegally for eight months during which time he was tortured with an electric current to elicit a confession. 

At his trial in 2018, Kamalov said that drugs and ammunition had been planted on him to coerce him into testifying against others in Kamalov’s murder case.

[Read more on OC Media: Suspect in Daghestani newspaper founder murder convicted on drug and weapon charges]

All three defendants face up to life in prison if convicted.

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