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Southern Russia ex-mayor jailed for 10 years for planning terror attack

Southern Russia ex-mayor jailed for 10 years for planning terror attack
Said Amirov, once the influential mayor of the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, has been given 10 years in prison for trying to murder a local pension fund manager by shooting down his aircraft with a shoulder-launched missile.

Amirov was sentenced by the Military Court of the North Caucasus district on Wednesday. Prosecutors sought a longer sentence for the accused, but the defense pointed to his previous deeds on behalf of the country (Amirov has several state decorations) and his poor state of health – the ex-mayor had been heavily wounded in an assassination attempt and traveled in a wheelchair, prompting the nickname ‘Bloody Roosevelt’ from critical regional reporters.

In the same session the court sentenced Amirov’s nephew and former deputy mayor of the city of Kaspiysk, Yusup Djaparov, to eight-and-a-half years.

The criminal case against seasoned regional politician commenced in May 2013 – Amirov was suspected of organizing the murder of a senior investigator from the Dagestan branch of Russia’s top federal law enforcement body, the Investigative Committee.

On July 1, he was detained in a major police operation and urgently flown to Moscow. A short time later investigators started another probe against him. This time he was suspected of masterminding a terrorist attack. According to federal agents, Amirov, along with his nephew and several accomplices, planned to shoot down a plane carrying the head of the Dagestan Pension Fund, Sagid Murtazaliyev. The plan was thwarted when police discovered and seized the conspirators’ weapon of choice: a Russian-made Strela-2 shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile.

As the probe went on, investigators established the ex-mayor’s complicity in several more high-profile murders and assaults.

The police had to reinforce the security in court during the Wednesday session as Amirov’s numerous relatives and supporters rallied outside the building. Even larger demonstrations took place in Makhachkala after the 2013 arrest – due to the ex-mayor’s popularity and immense influence.A veteran of regional politics, Amirov was deputy prime minister of Dagestan between 1991 and 1998 and in 1998 won the first ever mayoral elections in Makhachkala.

Russian mass media even speculated that Amirov’s arrest was deliberately timed to coincide with a major football match held in neighboring Chechnya – this way most of the Makhachkala population were away from home and could not start any troubles.

However, despite certain popularity the ex-mayor had long been the main target of opposition reporters who linked his name with corruption, nepotism, attacks and murders.

Dagestani press have repeatedly suggested that Amirov was behind the killings of local businessmen who refused to share profits, as well as stubborn officials and politicians who opposed the local mafia clans.

One of the most vivid examples was the death of Dagestani Interior Minister Adilgirey Magomedtagirov in 2009. He publicly announced that he had proof that one of Amirov’s sons personally killed several young women. Shortly that statement Magomedtagirov was killed by a sniper while walking out of a wedding reception.

It should also be noted that Amirov’s arrest took place soon after Russian President dismissed Magomedsalam Magomedov from the post of the Dagestan over the poor security situation in the republic. Magomedov was replaced by Ramazan Abdulatipov – a man with strong connections in the federal law enforcement and power bodies.

The new head of the republic praised Amirov’s detention at the time, promising that it would bring order and stability to the region.

According to media reports, Amirov planned to compete with Abdulatipov at the elections for head of the republic that will take place in September this year. His conviction will apparently put an end to that ambition.