Is Burayev’s arrest targeted at businessman Saidullayev?
By Umalt Chadayev
CHECHNYA – The arrest in Moscow of Shamil Burayev, former head of a Chechen administrative district, on charges of involvement in the murder of prominent Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya may have been targeted at the well-known Chechen businessman Malik Saidullayev, formerly head of Chechnya’s State Council (Gossovet).
This view was expressed in an interview with Prague Watchdog’s correspondent by Moscow Helsinki Group North Caucasus expert Aslambek Apayev, who at the very beginning of the "counter-terrorist operation" worked as Saidullayev’s representative.
"I believe that Burayev’s arrest on totally absurd charges of complicity in the murder of Anna Politkovskaya is aimed at discrediting the well-known entrepreneur Malik Saidullayev, who was on friendly terms with him. In the 2003 Chechen presidential elections Burayev ignored instructionse from the ‘top’ and supported the candidacy of Saidullayev, who was an opponent of Akhmat-Khadzhi Kadyrov," he says.
"Burayev’s arrest can be seen as revenge on the part of certain forces for his intransigence, and also as an attempt to discredit Saidullayev. I am firmly convinced that Burayev had nothing to do with Anna’s murder. The fact is that from 2001 until 2003 I worked as a representative for Saidullayev, who at that time was chairman of Chechen State Council. It was Saidullayev who in 1999, long before the Migration Service began its work, provided humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons," Apayev explains.
"I saw Shamil Burayev at Saidullayev's office several times. Anna Politkovskaya used to go there too on occasion. There was no friction between Burayev and Politkovskaya. Burayev had no reason to be involved in Anna’s murder, or even to want her dead. As for the relationship between Burayev and Saidullayev, Saidullayev himself could give a better account of it. I can merely cite a certain fact. I believe that in 2002 Saidullayev gave Burayev an Arab racehorse nicknamed ‘Sagip’, which cost over a million dollars. However, a month later Burayev returned it, with the explanation that the horse might be shot in order to spite him," he says.
"After analyzing what’s been happening recently, I’ve formed the impression that Malik Saidullayev may be next in line after Mikhail Gutseriyev as a businessman whom the authorities want to persecute. And I think Burayev’s arrest is not accidental. I’m afraid that the Burayev case will be followed by attempts to ‘involve’ others as well – even Saidullayev, " the expert believes.
On September 13 2007 Shamil Burayev, the ex-administrative head of Achkhoy-Martanovsky district and recipient of the Russian Order of Courage, was arrested in Moscow. The former civil servant was charged with complicity in the murder of Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya, one of the few representatives of the Russian print media who tried to tell the truth about the events that are taking place in Chechnya.
In 2003 Burayev was removed from his administrative post by former Chechen President Akhmat Kadyrov. Burayev, like a number of pro-Moscow Chechen officials, openly opposed the appointment of former Ichkerian mufti Akhmat Kadyrov as head of the interim government. In the same year Buraev (like Saidullayev) unsuccessfully ran for the republic's presidency.
Translation by DM.