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Chechen leader allegedly ordered rivals’ killings

The brother of two murdered opponents of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov claims in a letter that the Kremlin-backed Chehen leader has ordered the killing of him and the remaining brothers.
/ Source: The Associated Press

The brother of two murdered opponents of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov claimed in a letter published Wednesday that the Kremlin-backed Chehen leader has ordered the killing of him and the remaining brothers.

The office of the Chechen president, who has consistently denied widespread allegations of his involvement in murders, abductions and torture, refused to comment on the claim made by Isa Yamadayev in the newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets.

Yamadayev is one of five brothers who first fought with Chechnya's separatist rebels, then switched sides. They later fell out of favor with Kadyrov amid a fierce power struggle between clans.

Sulim Yamadayev, who headed the largest pro-Moscow military unit in Chechnya that did not report to Kadyrov, was gunned down in Dubai in March. A Dubai court this month sentenced two former employees of Kadyrov to life in prison, and Dubai police said Kadyrov's right-hand man Adam Delimkhanov organized the murder.

Shot to death in Moscow
Another Yamadayev brother, Ruslan, a former member of Russia's parliament, was shot to death in Moscow in September 2008 while sitting in his car in rush-hour traffic. A suspect has ben arrested in that case.

The Kremlin has seen the gruff-talking, rough-mannered Kadyrov, who became Chechen president in 2007 at age 30, as the only person who can maintain order and keep large numbers of former rebels such as the Yamadayev brothers under control.

In his letter, Isa Yamadayev accused Kadyrov of masterminding a contract-style murder attempt he survived in Moscow in July.

Yamadayev says he disarmed the attacker, who previously worked as his bodyguard. The alleged attacker, Khavaj Yusupov, is on trial for attempted murder.

"I was forced to keep silence in order not to hinder the investigation," wrote Yamadayev, who serves in the Russian federal forces as a lieutenant. "But now I have decided to make public some facts on how the contract murder was being organized."

He said he acquired a video showing Yusupov's confession to police from Russian prosecutors. In the video, posted on the newspaper's Web site, the man identified as Yusupov says Kadyrov "was the one who ordered" the killing.

Kadyrov allegedly told him that he "killed these people and will kill their family" and claimed Kadyrov had ordered the slaying of two other Yamadayev brothers, according to the video.

Russian prosecutors were not immediately available to confirm the authenticity of the video.

Accusations of atrocities
In recent years, other critics of Kadyrov have also been killed in contract-style shootings.

In July, human rights activist Natalya Estemirova, whose reports enraged Kadyrov, was kidnapped and brutally killed. The group she worked for, Memorial, blamed Kadyrov for the murder.

Estemirova had worked with investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who accused Kadyrov of atrocities and gross rights violations and was gunned down in her Moscow apartment building in 2006.

In January, Kadyrov's former bodyguard, who fled to Austria and claimed his former boss personally tortured him, was gunned down in Vienna.

Russian leaders have ignored calls for international investigations into allegations of human rights abuses by forces under his authority.

Isa Yamadayev, meanwhile, has contended that his brother Sulim is still alive. Moskovsky Komsomolets last week ran an article in which he was quoted as saying Sulim is in hospital in the United Arab Emirates and that they speak to each other frequently. Dubai officials declined to comment on that report.