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31 Mar, 2009 19:11

Dead or alive: uncertainty over Chechen Hero of Russia assassination

There are contradicting reports on the fate of Sulim Yamadayev, a former leading commander of a crack Russian anti-terrorist battalion in Chechnya, after an assassination attempt in Dubai, UAE on March 28.

Russia’s Consul in Dubai, Sergey Krasnogor, confirmed the killing of Sulim Yamadayev, a Chechen, who was decorated as a 'Hero of Russia’ for his military service, on Monday, April 30.

However, on Tuesday he went back on his words. He said the Dubai police have not let anyone approach the body, which is thought to be Yamadayev. The Russian diplomats have not been shown the corpse or any documents that could prove the identity of the deceased, he stressed.

Sergey Krasnogor also said that Dubai Police states that the person shot on March 28 is Yamadayev and that he’s dead.

“The General [Chief of Dubai Police, Dahi Khalfan Tamim] personally informed me of Sulim Yamadayev’s death,” he said.

The Russian Consul is due to meet the representatives of the UAE’s General Prosecutor’s office on Wednesday to clarify the situation.

Late on Tuesday, Dahi Khalfan Tamim told journalists that “the murder was planned and that those involved belong to an organized crime group with connections abroad”. He also said that at least four suspects have been detained.

The chief of the Dubai police has denounced an earlier statement by Yamadayev’s brother Isa who claimed that his closest relative was not dead. Tamim said Yamadayev’s body has been handed over to his brother.

In the Chechen town of Gudermes, where the residence of the Yamadayev clan is situated, there are no indications showing that the family has lost a relative. According to Chechen tradition, when a person dies, the relatives open their gates and take the condolences of friends and neighbours, but the gates of the yards remain closed.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry has issued their first reaction on the assassination attempt on Sulim Yamadayev. A statement voiced by Ministry’s spokesperson Andrey Nesterenko says that Moscow pays the closest possible attention to all the news coming from Dubai, where an official investigation has started.

“It can’t be any other way, because we are talking about a Russian citizen, who is a hero of Russia in addition,” Nesterenko said.