Colonel Zairbekov’s rogue cops

Colonel Zairbekov’s rogue cops
Askhabali Zairbekov

The Federal Security Service continues the proceedings against a Dagestani organized crime group of rogue cops, led by the Head of the Kizilyurt Internal Affairs Department Colonel Askhabali Zairbekov. Yesterday’s arrests of MIA senior officers in Dagestan are connected with it.

Yesterday, the FSB conducted a special operation in a number of Dagestani cities, including Makhachkala and Khasavyurt, during which the Deputy Chief of the Criminal Investigation Department of Dagestan MIA Gimbat Lakhiyalov and the Head of the MIA Criminal Investigation Department in Khasavyurt Rasul Saduev were detained.

Apart from them, it has been reported about the detention of several other MIA officers, however, their names are not known; Interfax source noted that only two senior police officers have been arrested.

The operation currently continues; searches are held in the detainees’ houses and offices, official records are seized.

The Ministry of Internal Affairs in Dagestan has been unwilling to comment, although it is already known that the high-ranking police officers have been taken into custody as part of the criminal case against the former Head of Inter-Municipal Kizilyurt Internal Affairs Department Askhabali Zairbekov, who had been arrested in February 2014 in Moscow.

The trial in the case of Zairbekov and four other members of his crime group started in June 2016 in the North Caucasus District Military Court in Rostov-on-Don.

The prosecution demands to find the crime group members guilty of committing two armed assaults, as well as illicit arms trafficking, embezzlement, and hostage-taking. Possible prison sentences differ significantly; for example, the prosecution asks 17 years in penal colony and a fine of 400 thousand rubles for customs officer Gaziyav Dzhamaludinov and the Acting Head of the Criminal Investigation Department Magomed Piraev, whereas the unemployed Abdulmuslim Magomedov and the former Head of the Internal Affairs Department Zairbekov are to face 10 years of imprisonment and a fine of 230 thousand rubles each.

One of the five defendants in the case, operative Makhmud Khaybulaev is to be sent for compulsory treatment, since the forensic examination has ruled him insane.

According to the information available to investigation, the accused persons have created an armed group for the attacks on businessmen from the Levashinsky District of Dagestan, transporting cash from the Russian-Azerbaijani border to Makhachkala.

First criminal episode committed by the organized crime group dates back to August 24, 2012. Disguised as a police post at the interchange ramp from the Kavkaz federal highway in the Karabudakhkent district of Dagestan, the gang stopped a car with three local businessmen; threatening with weapons, the criminals drove them to a secluded place, where they stole 43 million rubles from them. February 15, 2013, at the former traffic police post Kular in the Derbent district, the crime group made a second attack on a similar scheme. This time, there were two businessmen in a car, and the amount of money was 35 million rubles.

Highway robin hoods

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It is noteworthy that both times the outlaw police officers took off on a serious score, as mid-level businessmen rarely carry that kind of money. Based on this, the local media have concluded that the stolen money had been of questionable origin. The reputation of the Colonel Zairbekov, who is known as an implacable enemy of terrorism, Chevalier of several state awards, and whose name is included in the reserve list for the position of the Minister of Internal Affairs of Dagestan (according to Dagestani media), has reinforced the belief.

The Colonel Zairbekov’s wartime background ties him to Rasul Saduyev, who was detained yesterday. In 2011, while on patrol in the vicinity of the Nechaevka village, the two officers were lightly wounded as a result of trap mine explosion.

In 2011, a video was leaked on the web, in which armed men wearing combat gear and masks threaten militants with reprisal for the death of police officers, calling themselves Robin Hoods. The press then concluded that those were the officers of the Kizilyurt Department headed by the then-Lieutenant Colonel Zairbekov. Later Askhabali Zairbekov personally appealed to leaders of the criminal underground on TV, openly challenging them.

This simple media campaign has consolidated Zairbekov’s romantic image in Dagestan and secured the nickname Robin Hood. However, in contrast to the Sherwood archer, the Dagestani Robin Hoods would not give the money to the poor, leaving it to themselves.

Their gang comprised of more than five people; during the pre-trial investigation, it became known that at least four other members of the crime group, some of whom are police officers, are currently on the wanted list.

During one of the first court sessions, the defendants said they had been secured false confessions through torture in the pre-trial detention center, so they flatly refused to plead guilty.

Meanwhile, there has been one more defendant in the Dagestani organized crime group case, who has behaved quite differently; perhaps, it is his testimony that is linked with yesterday’s arrests of the top positions of the Dagestani Criminal Investigation Department. It is possible that those arrests will not be the last.

Sixth defendant Gasan Musagadzhiev had made a plea bargain and cooperated with the investigation, so the court has sentenced him to six years in prison. 

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