x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Yamadayev's murder mystery remains unresolved

Intrigue continues to surround Sulim Yamadayev more than a year after he was shot in the head in the car park of his apartment block at Jumeirah Beach Residence.

DUBAI // Intrigue continues to surround Sulim Yamadayev more than a year after he was shot in the head in the car park of his apartment block at Jumeirah Beach Residence.

The investigation into the 36-year-old former Chechen warlord's death in March last year turned up a gold-plated 9mm handgun and a hand-drawn map of his parking area, which was found on a kitchen counter in the home of one of the suspected assassins.

According to the Dubai Police, Yamadayev survived 19 attempts on his life before moving to Dubai.

Yamadayev was seen as a traitor by many Chechens and either a "hero" or "wanted man" by the Russians.

Moscow gave its "full attention" to his murder. Andrei Nesterenko, a spokesman for the foreign ministry, was quoted as saying: "There can be no other way … when we are talking about a citizen of our country, much less a hero of Russia."

Yamadayev moved to Dubai with his wife and six children four months before he was killed, a move interpreted to have been his retirement from a violent past.

Born in 1973, the business graduate student put his career on hold and joined his four brothers in the fight for Chechnya against the Russians in the 1994-1996 war of independence. Moscow suffered a major defeat and had to pull out of the separatist southern province. The Yamadayev clan then switched sides to fight alongside federal Russian troops sent back into the country by Vladimir Putin in 1999.

The former Chechen separatist became the commander of the Vostok battalion, a unit of battle-hardened former rebels that played an important role in subduing a large-scale separatist resistance movement.

Yamadayev led the battalion after his brother, Dzhabrail, was killed by a car bomb in 2003. He and another brother, Ruslan, were awarded "Hero of Russia" medals by the Kremlin in 2005. In September 2008, Ruslan was gunned down in Moscow. Yamadayev was dismissed from the military in the same year amid rivalry with the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, and Russian police issued a warrant for his arrest over the kidnapping of a Chechen businessman in 1998. Despite the warrant, he continued to fight within the Russian army in the war with Georgia in 2008.

The circumstances surrounding his death remain mysterious.

Another of Yamadayev's brothers, Isa, insisted he survived the gunshot and was recovering in a Russian hospital. However, Dubai Police confirmed the death and burial two days later at Al Qouz cemetery. Five months later, Isa survived his own assassination attempt when he was shot in the back by a man visiting his Moscow apartment.

Police believe that nine men were involved in the murder of Sulim Yamadayev. They include the two men who had their life sentences cut to three years by a Dubai court, as well as Adam Delimkhanov, the former deputy prime minister of Chechnya and a current Russian member of the state parliament, or Duma.

 

rghazal@thenational.ae