Federal agents launch an all-out assault on the Dagestani government
The shakeup in Dagestan continued on Wednesday as officers from different federal law enforcement agencies raided almost every single state agency in the republic (though the local Health Ministry has denied being caught up in the searches). A source told the news agency Interfax that the authorities are seizing documents as part of an investigation into the large-scale embezzlement of public funds. In connection with the searches, police and National Guardsmen from outside Dagestan replaced the entire personnel stationed at road checkpoints.
Last month, the Federal Security Service, Interior Ministry, and Investigative Committee launched a special commission in Moscow to “verify the state of the law” in Dagestan. A source told Interfax that all high-ranking Dagestani state officials have been forbidden to travel abroad until the commission has completed its investigation into government corruption in the region.
On February 5, police detained Dagestan’s previous acting prime minister, Abdusamad Gamidov, along with two of his deputies and Dagestan’s former education minister. On February 7, the Dagestani People’s Assembly approved the appointment of Gamidov’s replacement: Artem Zdunov, Tatarstan’s current economic minister. Before Gamidov’s arrest, police had already opened criminal cases against the mayor of Makhachkala and the city’s chief architect.
Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin’s spokesman, assured reporters on Tuesday that Dagestan is not experiencing a “political crisis.” The recent arrests of high-ranking state officials is evidence of regular police work, Peskov said.