Skip to main content

Officials deny reports that Dagestan's local traffic police have been replaced in an anti-corruption crackdown

Representatives of the Interior Ministry and National Guard deny reports that police and National Guardsmen from outside Dagestan have replaced the local personnel stationed at checkpoints throughout the republic. According to Magomed Baachilov, who heads the National Guard in Dagestan, officers from other regions of the country have staffed Dagestan’s traffic police since 2010, “because of terrorist threats at checkpoints.”

Irina Volk, a spokesperson for the Interior Ministry, said Dagestan’s traffic police have been officers from outside the republic since 2012. She says Dagestan’s police force is currently operating as usual.

A multi-agency federal commission has made several high-profile arrests in Dagestan this week, and on Wednesday law enforcement officials raided many of the republic’s ministries as part of a reported investigation into the large-scale embezzlement of public funds. In January, the Federal Security Service, Interior Ministry, and Investigative Committee launched a special commission in Moscow to “verify the state of the law” in Dagestan.

On February 7, high-ranking Dagestani state officials told journalists that they’ve been forbidden from leaving the country until the anti-corruption commission’s work is done. Two top officials told the news agency TASS that they received no special instructions, but they confirmed that their foreign travel rights have been suspended.

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.