Hit and Run

North and south of the Caucasus mountains:

Azerbaijan’s air force commander was shot and killed as he left his home on the morning of February 11 … Lt-Gen. Rail Rzayev, the head of Azerbaijan’s Air Force and Anti-Aircraft Defense Force, was shot in the head as he was sitting in a Mercedes in front of his Baku apartment building. Doctors at a military hospital could not save 64-year-old Rzayev’s life, the Interior Ministry announced. … Rzayev had served as Azerbaijan’s air force commander since 1992, after previously heading Baku’s anti-aircraft defenses. …

Most recently, in December 2008, Rzayev attracted media attention after reports surfaced that Azerbaijani military planes had forced a helicopter carrying Minister of Emergency Situations Kamaladdin Heydarov to land. No official explanations were issued for the incident. Azerbaijani mainstream media outlets, however, reported that Heydarov, arguably the government’s most influential minister, had failed to inform the Anti-Aircraft Defense Forces about his flight, allegedly to his villa in the central Gabala region. …

Lt. Gen. Rzayev was among those Azerbaijani generals who strongly opposed any compromise resolution of the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict with Armenia, noted Rauf Mirgadirov, political columnist for the Russian-language daily Zerkalo (The Mirror).

Azerbaijani military politics are murky, to say the least, but this bears watching.

Speaking of murky, the murder of a Chechen in Austria may have some interesting fingerprints on it:

A Chechen refugee killed in Vienna last month was the key witness in an Austrian criminal investigation into Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov that could have led to Kadyrov’s arrest last year, prosecutors and lawyers said Wednesday.

The revelation fuels speculation that the killing of Umar Israilov, a former bodyguard of Kadyrov, was aimed at silencing a vocal critic of the Chechen leadership. Israilov was gunned down on Jan. 13, just four days after The New York Times informed the Russian government that it was planning to publish a report based on interviews with him implicating Kadyrov of murder and torture. …
Israilov last year offered information implicating Kadyrov of torture and murder to a team of lawyers in Austria and Germany, who in turn asked Vienna prosecutors to arrest Kadyrov during an expected visit to Austria for the European football championship, the Berlin-based European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights said Wednesday. …
Around the same time as the request for the arrest, Austrian police arrested a Chechen man who claimed that he had been sent by Kadyrov to kill Israilov, Der Falter reported Wednesday, citing police records.
Jarosch said the case of the Chechen man was not pursued because Austrian prosecutors believed and still believe that they lack jurisdiction.

Oops. Now that Israilov is dead, Austria may have jurisdiction. At least for one crime.

Prosecutors have arrested seven suspects in Israilov’s death, all ethnic Chechens, and five remain in prison, Jarosch said. He said it was not clear whether the killer was among them.

One thought on “Hit and Run

  1. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Armenia-Azerbaijan: High-profile assassinations

Comments are closed.