Wannabe minister. Dagestani police chief of internal security failed to buy much-desired position 

Wannabe minister. Dagestani police chief of internal security failed to buy much-desired position
High-ranked law enforcement officer tried to erase some information compromising him Photo: The CrimeRussia

He just wanted a decent position in a good place, including all the associated benefits, bonuses, and privileges. He was ready and willing to pay for this in dollars. Too bad, some episodes of his biography rendered the much-desired appointment impossible. His eagerness was not appreciated. The arrest of Dagestani police colonel Magomed Khizriev became one of the main news of the last week.

The Head of the Operations and Search Division of Internal Security of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) for the Republic of Dagestan has been arrested on June 5, 2018 – on the 300th anniversary of the Russian police service – during an attempt to arrange his appointment to the post of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Dagestan in exchange for a bribe of $2 million. This was an ‘installment’ of a larger bribe in the amount of $6 million paid through a chain of intermediaries. Certain information compromising the 52-year-old law enforcement officer was supposed to be erased from his personal file. Apparently, Khizriev had no doubts (or somebody had convinced him) that this trip to the MIA of Russia was decisional. Colleagues of the colonel were told that he had a service trip to solve some staffing issues.

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Magomed Khizriev, Head of the Operations and Search Division of Internal Security of the MIA for the Republic of Dagestan

The high-ranked policeman arrived from the airport to the MIA General Administration of Internal Security in a car belonging to his Moscow acquaintance and was arrested there. Operatives of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation approached the colonel, who was filling out some papers in one of the offices, notified Khizriev of a criminal case instituted against him under part 5 of Article 291 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (bribe-giving on an especially large scale), seized the telephone and service ID, and took for questioning. On the next day, it became known that five more civilians employed with law enforcement structures and involved into the failed bribery scheme have been detained and charged under part 4 of Article 291.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (mediation in bribery).

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Magomed Khizriev in court

Two days after the arrest, the Presnensky District Court of Moscow has remanded Khizriev and three his accomplices – Gora Chudopalov, Aleksei Sysdykov, and Luiza Mirzhoeva – in custody for two months. 

The Dagestani law enforcement officer told the court at a session held to determine his pretrial restrictions that he denies any guilt and considers his arrest a provocation. The colonel said that such acts of provocation had been staged against him on a regular basis in the last four years. Some unknown powers induce him to make a false testimony and revenge for his refusals to do so.

In this particular case, Khizriev was allegedly aware of yet another forthcoming provocation because he was in the federal personnel reserve and expected promotion to a supreme position. He claims that if this position were indeed intended for him, he would be appointed to it without any bribes. In addition, the colonel said that he does not have sources of income enabling him to give bribes of $2 million.

Furthermore, Khizriev told the court that he had a backbone surgery recently and had asked the Minister of Internal Affairs to transfer him “to a good position with a decent salary” for health reasons. 

However, the investigation believes that Magomed Khizriev had designs on the chair of the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Dagestan. A day before his arrest, the contract with Abdurashid Magomedov, the current Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Dagestan, has been extended by one year by a Presidential decree. Magomedov turned 60 this year, which is the maximum age for this position. Abdurashid Magomedov began his service in the Soviet militia and became the head of the regional police in 2010. It is necessary to note that he is the only republican law enforcement functionary who has retained his post after the appointment of Vladimir Vasiliev, ex-Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation and leader of the Edinaya Rossia (United Russia) Party Caucus in the State Duma, the Head of the Republic of Dagestan.

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Abdurashid Magomedov, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Dagestan

Rumors about the imminent resignation of the general who has attained the retirement age had circulated in the republic since the beginning of the year. The Kremlin had been examining for two months the possibility to extend the service term for Magomedov. As a result, local oligarchic structures started infighting under the carpet over the potentially-vacant chair. According to some information, up until recently, Magomed Khizriev was a henchman of Sagid Murtazaliev, ex-Head of the Dagestani Branch of the Russian Pension Fund, and Andrei Vinogradov, ex-Head of the Kizlyar District of the Republic of Dagestan. After the escape of Murtazaliev to the United Arab Emirates and arrest of Vinogradov (both of them were charged with terrorism), Khizriev managed to retain his position and gained the support of influential Moscow politicians and businessmen – natives of Dagestan. The list of his ‘patrons' included Ibragim Gadzhiev, a native of the Shamilsky district of Dagestan, also known in the capital as Igor Isaev, owner of a vegetable warehouse in Biryulevo, detained brothers-oligarchs Magomed and Ziyavudin Magomedov, and Deputy of the State Duma Rizvan Kurbanov. According to well-informed sources, all these people had ties with fugitive Sagid Murtazaliev known as Golodny (Hungry) in his native Dagestan. For instance, Deputy Kurbanov, being an old friend of Murtazaliev, had personally asked Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika “to check the legitimacy of the criminal case instituted against Vinogradov and Murtazaliev”.    

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Fugitive Sagid Murtazaliev

All these people were directly interested in making Magomed Khizriev the Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Dagestan. It was necessary to intensify efforts and erase any references to compromising factors potentially preventing him from taking this position. The preparations have begun in spring 2017 – at that time, Khizriev delivered a portion of the previously-agreed sum ($2 million out of the $6 million) to his accomplices. The funds were intended for a supreme functionary of the MIA General Administration of Internal Security that handles personnel matters of such level and approves all such appointments. The MIA General Administration of Internal Security and FSB started developing a special operation to capture the corrupt officer after being notified that a Dagestani colonel is searching for ‘right' people in the MIA General Administration of Internal Security to help him to be appointed the Republican Minister of Internal Affairs for a reward.

It is necessary to keep in mind that this was not the first attempt of Khizriev to become the minister. Magomed Khizriev used to serve in the criminal investigation and was in charge of the Sovetsky District Department of Internal Affairs of Makhachkala. Then he transferred to the Administration for Combating Terrorism and Criminal Extremism and later – to the Administration of Internal Security (currently the Operations and Search Division of Internal Security) of the MIA for the Republic of Dagestan. After the murder of Adilgerei Magomedtagirov, Minister of Internal Affairs of the Republic of Dagestan, in summer 2009 by rebel fighters, Khizriev was considered the most likely candidate for the regional police chief. In that period, Sagid Murtazaliev, then-Head of the Kizlyar District of the Republic of Dagestan (and the future Head of the Dagestani Branch of the Russian Pension Fund), had actively supported colonel Khizriev. However, the Kremlin has chosen more ‘politically neutral’ Abdurashid Magomedov, ex-Chairman of the Dagestani Council of Security... The colonel was also expected to become the minister in January 2013 – his appointment was believed to be an accomplished fact (allegedly he was even promoted to a major general). But the President has extended the contract with lieutenant general Abdurashid Magomedov at that time – as he did again a few days ago    

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Sagid Murtazaliev and his closest associate Andrei Vinogradov

Interestingly, on the Monday morning of June 4, 2018, the Kremlin has published a decree of Vladimir Putin extending the contract with Abdurashid Magomedov by one year – and on the next morning, it became known that Khizriev has been arrested. It does not seem a coincidence – but rather a quarrel between several rival clans within the Dagestani law enforcement system. Some experts believe that the neutralization of Magomed Khizriev was a precondition for the extension of the contract with Magomedov. It can't be ruled out therefore that various structural subdivisions of the FSB oppose each other and play their own games. 

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Sagid Murtazaliev and Magomed Khizriev

What compromising materials are contained in the personal file of Khizriev? What information had to be erased in exchange for $6 million? In fact, despite certain merits – the colonel has been awarded the Order of Courage and has numerous departmental commendations – the service record of Khizriev includes serious offenses as well. So serious that any other police officer would be jailed for such deeds.

The compromising materials against Khizriev – which he was so eager to destroy – reportedly include records of his contacts with illegal armed groups and intimidation of his subordinates, including murder threats.

The media have published plenty of negative information about Khizriev. Allegedly, he used to work in the Dagestani customs prior to transferring to the MIA – and had to resign "for maniacal passion for charging informal levies". In 1996, Khizriev joined the Republican MIA in the rank of captain that he has reportedly purchased from the chief enlistment officer of the town of Kyzylyurt on money gained from robberies and car thefts. In 1999–2000, being a police officer, he had lost his passport twice; according to Khizriev, the documents were damaged during the filling-out. The colonel is known in certain circles as Konduktor (Conductor) (for his ability to ruin criminal cases for a reward) and Stomatolog (Dentist). When Magomed Khizriev was in charge of the Sovetsky District Department of Internal Affairs of Makhachkala, law enforcement structures had received information about his possible ties with illegal armed groups. Akhmed Magomedov, Head of the MIA Administration for the City of Makhachkala, had repeatedly reprimanded him. In response, Khizriev had threatened Magomedov with murder during one of their public arguments. The Head of the Sovetsky District Department of Internal Affairs has been discharged from service and promised to revenge his dismissal. In 2010, Akhmed Magomedov, his driver, and two guards were gunned down in the center of Makhachkala. The officer has been posthumously awarded the title of the Hero of Russia.

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Slain Akhmed Magomedov, Head of the MIA Administration for the City of Makhachkala

In addition, colonel Khizriev was allegedly involved with an organized criminal group under the leadership of Sagid Murtazaliev, ex-Head of the Dagestani Branch of the Russian Pension Fund. Khizriev was nicknamed Stomatolog by gang members and assisted them in settling issues with the law using his official capacity. Murtazaliev has made every effort to reinstate his protege in the police after his termination. Then he contributed to his appointment the Head of the Operations and Search Division of Internal Security of the MIA for the Republic of Dagestan. However, at some point, the FSB turned attention to the gang led by Golodny – and Khizriev started purposively arresting the former colleagues to avoid detection. Убитый Сергей Сайпудинов

In that period, rumors had actively circulated in Dagestan about the role of colonel Khizriev in the murder of 34-year-old Sergei Saipudinov, a leading security service officer at Chernomortransneft oil company, in 2012. Saipudinov had investigated illegal pipeline tie-ins in Dagestan – while Khizriev, according to well-informed sources, had shares in gas stations selling the stolen oil. Three assassination attempts had been committed against Saipudinov, and the last one was successful – some unknown persons shot him dead. Two Kizlyar residents were arrested on suspicion of committing this murder – but in June 2016, they have been acquitted by jurors of the Supreme Court of Dagestan. Apparently, ‘friends of Murtazaliev’ (i.e. henchmen of Khizriev) had asked them to incriminate themselves. As a result, the case turned out to have no suspects. Neither the mastermind behind this murder nor direct perpetrators have been identified – although it was rumored that a nephew of a high-ranked policeman has committed this contract killing.

What information had to be erased from the personal file of Khizriev? Was the minister’s chair his ultimate goal? Or maybe this was just a precaution to avoid the fate of many high-ranked Dagestani enforcement officers, politicians, and businessmen who have been prosecuted recently?

After the appointment of Vladimir Vasiliev, ex-Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation, the Head of the Republic of Dagestan, a sweeping anti-corruption purge has been launched in the region.

It can’t be ruled out that old criminal cases – ether closed or not instituted for some reasons – are to be resumed soon. Many facts hushed up in Dagestan for decades are expected to be uncovered. Vasiliev has already announced mass inspections of gas stations, brick factories, power grids, and pipelines – i.e. all the facilities traditionally used by criminal businesses    

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