Russia, UAE: Sulim Yamadayev - Dead or Alive?

Global Voices Online
Sunday, April 5, 2009

According to some sources, Sulim Yamadayev, former Chechen rebel commander and former commander of the Russian Vostok ("East") Battalion, was assassinated in Dubai on March 28. According to other sources, he survived the shooting. (More background info - here, at RFE/RL's Caucasus Report.)

Below is a selection of Russophone bloggers' reactions to the conflicting reports about the attack on Yamadayev.

LJ user voinodel - March 29:

All kinds of unofficial rumors here. That one - or not? Killed him - or wounded him?
According to our own very reliable information, Sulim Yamadaeyv is in coma now.

Update: writes that he'll survive. So perhaps it's not all that bad. [...]

LJ user voinodel - March 30:

Freedom to choose


Both have [Yamadayev's brother Isa] as a source. The reports are half an hour apart.


P.S. Searched the web. Entered "Yamadayev alive" on Yandex [search]. [Nothing.] Not a single item. If turns out to be right and Yamadayev is indeed alive, it is unlikely to change the situation in any way. No one will believe Yamadayev now. Interfax reported, RIA Novosti reported, Channel One reported. Go and die, Suleiman Bekmirzayevich [Sulim Yamadayev], don't interfere with our work.

- But what about - Suleiman Bekmirzayevich would ask.
- is yellow press, - they'll respond to him. [Not trustworthy.] Read RIA Novosti instead. You've died. On Monday. You'll be buried in the Emirates. So be ready in the morning.

LJ user savsane - March 30:

Once upon a time, there lived three brothers. Three Heroes of Russia. They were all killed. First, the eldest one. Then... et cetera. Recalled recently that Yamadayev had build a chapel in Moscow region. On the territory of the Military Academy. None of the graduates of this institution had it in him to do it, except Yamadayev.



At the Dubai hospital, they are saying that Yamadayev is alive.


Then this will be the 19th failed assassination attempt at Sulim Yamadayev. If he survives.


Are you sure it's the 19th?


Even the main hero of this will not have the answer for you )

LJ user orkhan - March 31:

Spent the whole day calling a former commander of a former intelligence unit of the former Vostok Battalion on his cell phone every 15 minutes:

- Any news?
- He's alive.
- Are you sure?
- Absolutely.
- We're getting different information here...

I kept going online and reading [numerous] reports to him, which claimed that it was Sulim Yamadayev who died at a Dubai hospital.

- [These are lies], he's alive.
- But perhaps he has died already, but they've just not reported to you yet - three [bullet wound] holes, two next to the heart.
- Calm down, if something happens, I'll be the first one to know, and Sulim can bear things that are even worse.

It seemed to me that he began to sound somewhat unsure, and the internet kept going: died, died, died. There were hundreds of items, it was being reported that his death had been officially confirmed by the [Russian consul in Dubai], then they started quoting relatives...

By 6 PM, I lost patience and [arranged to meet with the source] [...].

- Tell me the truth.
- Alive.
- Are you sure?
- Half an hour ago, they were in his hospital room, he tried to talk, could recognize people, and was even trying to smile.
- [...] My [journalist] colleagues are calling me, the gates [of Yamadayev's house] in [Gudermes, Chechnya] have been opened to receive mourners, there's an official confirmation of his death...
- And who is confirming it?
- [A person named] Krasnogor from our consulates in the Emirates.
- Listen, who do you believe [...], me or [some obscure guy].

I didn't go back to work, went straight home, thinking: How much longer will the guys who knew [Yamadayev] in person refuse to believe, despite everything, and tell each other secretly during get-togethers: "Sulim is actually alive, this whole Dubai story is a good legend for a retreat."

When I returned home, I turned on my laptop and did a web search on Yamadayev - a long row of died, died, died ended with ["alive"]. And really, why did I decide to trust Krasnogor...

LJ user barabanch - March 31:

A source reports: an hour ago, Sulim Yamadayev was alive. As he is now.



So who is dead?


Anyone but Sulim.

On April 2, LJ user tverdyi-znak posted a 17-entry summary timeline of the rather confusing coverage of the attack in the Russian media and wrote:

[...] They still can't decide for sure whether he's alive or dead, and this isn't an April 1 joke, it's a pretty gloomy reality... By now it feels surreal. [...]

Below are some more reactions from Russophone and Anglophone bloggers.

LJ user sapojnik:

Reading through the news, I see this headline: "The names of Sulim Yamadayev's killer are now public. All are Russian."
And right after this, another item: "[General Headquarters of the Russian Armed Forces] has lost four leading generals."

"Wow," I thought.

LJ user abpaximov:

Among the versions of the assassination of Sulim Yamadayev I haven't yet seen the one stating that it was done by the Georgian special service as revenge for his role in the 2008 war with South Ossetia. Or have I just missed it?

LJ user dobrokhotov:

So, [Ramzan Kadyrov] has taken the Russian troops out of Chechnya without firing a single shot and has killed his last rival, Sulim Yamadayev (a reminder: not long before that, Kadyrov's people shot his brother, [Ruslan Yamadayev], in the center of Moscow, and somewhat earlier they also killed [Movladi Baisarov] on Leninsky Prospekt [in Moscow]). Whether it was them who killed [Anna Politkovskaya] or not, either way today there's not a single more or less public figure left who is critical of the mass murderer, former [Shamil Basayev]'s fighter, [honorary member of the Russian Academy of Natural Sciences], "Hero of Russia," president of Chechnya Ramzan Akhmatovich Kadyrov.

Adrian Blomfield, the Daily Telegraph's Moscow correspondent, wrote this on the newspaper's blog - and posted these Twitter updates:

12:14 PM Mar 30th

Sulim Yamadayev shot, wounded in Dubai. Could this tip Chechnya back into turmoil? It's the latest but most serious shooting outside Russia

12:16 PM Mar 30th:

Yamadayev shooting is evidence that Chechnya's gangster war is being fought outside Chechnya. Killings too in Moscow, Vienna and Istanbul.

12:18 PM Mar 30th:

Will Yamadayev shooting prompt world leaders to press Putin to rein in Kadyrov? Let's hope so. The body count is getting ridiculous.

Finally, La Russophobe has an "editorial" on the Dubai shooting, followed by a discussion in the comments section - here.

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