Time to forget ‘sworn brother’ of Ramzan Kadyrov?
The criminal case against Sagid Murtazaliev, a close associate of the Head of the Chechen Republic, is fading from memory. It is now remembered only in relation to the trial of his companion Andrei Vinogradov. Basically, there are no chances to extradite the fugitive ex-Head of the Daghestan Branch of the Russian Pension Fund to Russia. He did not even come to the country to attend the funeral of his father-in-law. The CrimeRussia analyzed the history and perspectives of the criminal case against the ‘sworn brother’ of Ramzan Kadyrov.
Apparently, it is time to archive the case against Sagid Murtazaliev, ex-Head of the Daghestan Branch of the Russian Pension Fund. The Olympic champion in freestyle wrestling who had won a gold medal at the Sydney Olympics, respected both in the North Caucasus and worldwide, has been arrested in absentia and put on the international wanted list on September 9, 2015. The official powers of Murtazaliev have been terminated on November 12.
Sagid Murtazaliev has been charged with grievous crimes stipulated in part 1 of Article 205 (Complicity in Terrorism), part 3 of Article 317 (Encroachment on the Life of an Officer of a Law-Enforcement Agency), and part 2 of Article 105 (Murder committed by a group of persons by previous concert) of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation. Should the guilt of Murtazaliev be proven, he faces up to 15 years behind bars.
Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, has spoken up for the famous athlete. Kadyrov considers the prosecution of his ‘sworn brother’ “somebody’s attempt to revenge”.
Ramzan Kadyrov and Sagid Murtazaliev
“Unfortunately, ungrounded prosecutions, accusations, and persecutions are not an uncommon thing. I think that the story with Sagid belongs to such category of cases. In any event, taking the personality of Sagid, the investigation and, if required, trial must be absolutely unbiased and principal. In any case, my attitude to Sagid remains unchanged: he is a true patriot and loyal son of Russia,” – Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram page.
“Finish” of Vinogradov
Andrei Vinogradov, the ex-Head of the Kizlyar District of the Republic of Dagestan believed to be the ‘right hand’ of Murtazaliev, has recently reminded of the fugitive official. Vinogradov has been charged with contributing to terrorist activity, complicity in murders, and encroachment on the life of an officer of a law-enforcement agency. In particular, Vinogradov was accused of attempted murder of Abdulzagir Abdulkaparov, an officer of the Dagestan militia. The incriminated episode goes back to 2004; at that time, Vinogradov used to work for Murtazaliev as a driver and bodyguard.
According to the case file, Murtazaliev’s bodyguards have battered militia officer Abdulzagir Abdulkaparov for pulling over the deputy’s cortège after a traffic violation. The investigators believe that Vinogradov had fired a shot into the officer but missed. At that time, the conflict was smothered up. Only 10 years later, the law enforcement authorities have resumed this case. In 2015, Andrei Vinogradov, then-Head of the Kizlyar District of the Republic of Dagestan, has been arrested by the special ops unit of the Federal Security Service (FSB) of the Russian Federation dispatched from Moscow.
Andrei Vinogradov. Photo: Gennady Gulyaev / Kommersant
The criminal case against Vinogradov was examined in the Moscow City Court. On July 25, when the jurors were ready to deliver a verdict, the case has been suddenly returned to the Prosecutor General’s Office as per request from the state prosecution. The watchdog authority decided that the ex-Head of the Kizlyar District must be tried for an additional criminal episode under Article 317 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation (Encroachment on the Life of an Officer of a Law-Enforcement Agency), for Attempted Murder (Article 105), and for financing of terrorist activity (Article 205.1 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation). Taking the last charge count, it is quite possible that the case would be handled by the military justice. It is necessary to note that the same charges have earlier been laid against Sagid Murtazaliev who had absconded from the Russian justice system.
According to the Main Investigations Directorate of the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation (ICR), in the period of 2009–2010, Sagid Murtazaliev, then-Head of the Kizlyar District of the Republic of Dagestan, has funneled, via his deputy Vinogradov, 2.7 million rubles ($45 thousand) and then – additional $100 thousand to the insurgents. The investigation believes that in exchange for that money, members of illegal armed groups have gunned down colonel Shevket Kudzhaev, the Head of the Department of the Center for Combating Extremism of the Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) in the Republic of Dagestan, and attempted to assassinate Vasily Naumochkin, the Vice Mayor of Kizlyar, who had obstructed the illegal operations of Murtazaliev.
Another event prompting to remember Sagid Murtazaliev occurred on July 5, 2017: Evgeny Merginov, father-in-law of Murtazaliev, has hanged himself in Kizlyar. The body of the 66-year-old man was found in the morning in the yard of his home. No information is available with regards to the motives of the suicide. Interestingly, in February 2015, some 34-year-old Nastasia Yaroslavskaya has submitted to the police a criminal complaint against Evgeny Merginov claiming that he had illegally detained her in his home for four days. The man was escorted to the police station, but no further details have been provided.
It can’t be ruled out that the incident with Yaroslavskaya had been settled inter alia thanks to the authority of Sagid Murtazaliev – this charismatic and brutal person is deeply respected in the North Caucasus. To refresh background: the announcement that the local favorite is charged with grievous crimes and put on the wanted list had caused mass protests. Numerous groups of local people got out on the street. Olympic champions have addressed Vladimir Putin stating that not only had Murtazaliev done a lot for the sport development in the republic, but also actively participated in the “combating the extremist and terrorist ideology” and asked the President to take personal control over this high-profile criminal case.
Video: Supporters of Vinogradov and Murtazaliev addressed Vladimir Putin
In fact, chances are high that the case against Murtazaliev collapses even prior to the trial. After the preliminary investigation, materials from the case file started mysteriously ‘hanging around’ or even disappearing together with the material evidence. The investigation has been transferred to Moscow, and the remaining materials were sent there. However, the witnesses who had originally provided damnatory testimonies started changing their position one by one. After being invited to Moscow for questioning, many of them started ‘sabotaging’ the investigation. Citing numerous circumstances, people are looking for any excuse to avoid the need to travel to the capital. Those who had already testified during the trial, are changing their previous statements for the benefit of the suspects by altering subtle details that ultimately determine the court verdict.
Currently Sagid Murtazaliev resides in the United Arab Emirates. Of course, he did not attend the funeral of his relative in Kizlyar. Kommersant believes that most probably, the ex-Head of the Dagestan Branch of the Russian Pension Fund won’t be extradited because he has been charged in absentia with terrorism-related crimes – while such cases, according to the intergovernmental agreement, are not subject to extradition or information exchange.
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