Page last updated at 18:35 GMT, Tuesday, 31 March 2009 19:35 UK

Mystery over Chechen shot in UAE

Sulim Yamadayev (2005)
In 2005, Sulim Yamadayev was named a Hero of Russia, Russia's top honour

Mystery continues to surround the fate of a former Chechen commander who was reported shot in Dubai on Saturday.

The chief of Dubai's police said Sulim Yamadayev, a rival of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, died after an apparent assassination attempt.

But Russian media have contradicted these reports, quoting Mr Yamadayev's family saying he survived the attack.

His younger brother, Isa, said he had visited Sulim in hospital and that his condition had "not deteriorated".

"Reports that his body has been handed over to me are a lie," he told the Russia's Itar-Tass news agency by telephone.

In a separate interview to Russia's NTV Mir, Isa Yamadayev said his brother "feels OK", despite being wounded.

"He recognised us and even tried to talk to us. It was said that his life was out of danger. Everything will be OK," Isa said.

The Russian consul in Dubai, Sergey Kranogor, said the local authorities insisted that the victim of the shooting had died - though he was not yet able to confirm his identity.

"There was an attempt on the life of a Russian citizen at about 1500 on 28 March. The police maintain that the person is dead. The hospital where he was taken after the attack has also reported his death," Mr Kranogor told the Interfax news agency.

"We have not seen the [victim's] passport or the body and cannot say that it was Sulim Yamadayev who was killed."

At least one person, described as a Russian national, has been arrested in Dubai following the shooting.

'Kadyrov's foe'

The chief of Dubai police, Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, earlier dismissed any contradictions, saying: "The case is clear and there is no confusion over what happened. An organised criminal group was behind the assassination."

"He was shot and died instantly on the scene," he told Reuters, adding that one person - "a Russian national" - had been arrested.

Residential building where Sulim Yamadayev was shot (30 March 2009)
The victim was attacked in an underground car park in Dubai

Gen Tamim said Mr Yamadayev had been in Dubai on a Russian passport issued in the name of Sulaiman Madov.

Mr Yamadayev was named a Hero of Russia in 2005, the top national honour.

But he fell out with President Kadyrov last year and was sacked as commander of the elite Vostok security forces battalion. He later fled to the United Arab Emirates.

In September last year, his brother Ruslan was shot dead in his car while it waited at traffic lights in central Moscow.

Opponents have accused Mr Kadyrov's henchmen of systematically removing any opposition to his absolute rule, says the BBC's Rupert Wingfield-Hayes in Moscow.

In January, Umar Israilov, a former bodyguard for Mr Kadyrov who had accused him of torture and kidnapping, was killed in Vienna. Then last month, a former deputy mayor of Grozny was shot dead in Moscow.

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