Re the post below on Ramzan Kadyrov, I got a Facebook message from Pat Cummings of Dubai Race Night that said: “Now that is an interesting status update for those who don’t know of whom you speak/write.”
Maybe, if you don’t follow world events. But Kadyrov’s name has been dropped in the racing sphere, too. On May 28, blogger Jessica Chapel linked to a story in guardian.co.uk about a Kadyrov runner entered at Royal Ascot. If you click Kadyrov’s name above, you’ll get a primer on the strong-handed history of the Chechen president, who’s 33 and the son of a former president of Chechnya who was assasinated in 2004. In 2007, then Russian president Vladimir Putin put Ramzan Kadyrov in power in Chechnya, a predominantly Muslim region, and the current Russian prez, Dmitri A. Medvedev, backs him as well because Kadyrov has been an effective sherriff for them in a wild-west type of frontier that has been pockmarked with violence and civil unrest.
By all accounts, Ramzan Kadyrov likes to live large and has the trappings of new wealth that come with a job like his, including the McMansions, shiny suits, sports cars, exotic animals (including tigers and lions), bodyguards, and racehorses. He’s been credited with a rapid construction boom in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, where he’s reportedly built the largest mosque in Europe, named after his late father, Akhmad Kadyrov.
Last year, he was the buyer of the Ken McPeek-trained Racecar Rhapsody, who was fourth in the Preakness. Kadyrov bought him to win the Russian Derby, but he ran fourth behind the US-bred Mineshaft colt Monomakh (bred by G.W. Humphrey Jr.and W.S. Farish). Kadyrov also had the fifth (Dalmar) and seventh (The Riddler) in the 12-horse field. (The Race Is Not Always to the Swift blog referenced Racecar Rhapsody’s sale to Kadyrov in a post on Aug. 22, 2008).
Last October, Kadyrov’s ex-Aga Khan runner Mourilyan, trained by South African Herman Brown, contested the Grade 1 Pattison Canadian International, a $2 million turf race at Woodbine.
There may have beeen political reasons for this that are linked to events in Dubai on World Cup day.
Between the rich Canadian and Singapore races for Mourilyan and Bankable, Kadyrov raced a string at Nad Al Sheba in Dubai this winter. On World Cup day on March 28, Kadyrov’s Bankable was fifth in the Group 1 Dubai Duty Free behind Gladiatorus.
On the same day, when Pat Cummings and other journalists were reporting on the races and the city was pulsing with international visitors pumped by one of global racing’s biggest days and the exploits of local ex-camel jockey Ahmed Ajtebi, Kadyrov’s name by association became linked to an internationally significant assassination in Dubai at the Jumeirah Beach Residence.
The hit was obviously planned with precision to take place on one of the biggest days in Dubai. The victim, Sulim Yamadayev, was a notable Chechen rival to Kadyrov and until last year a commander of a well-known Russian military unit stocked with veteran Chechen soldiers. According to press reports, he had fled Chechnya after a brother had been gunned down in Moscow last year and had been living under an assumed identity in Dubai since late November.
There’s a large Russian ex-pat community in Dubai, and it didn’t take long for Yamadayev’s assasins to find him. On March 28, according to published reports, Yamadayev was gunned down at point-blank range in the parking lot of his appartment building, and a gold-plated revolver was left next to his body as a calling card.
Dubai’s police chief, Dahi Khalfan Tamim, quickly made arrests, and several Chechens, a Russian, and an Iranian were taken into custody and questioned and/or held, according to various reports from newspapers from the region. Tamim throughout the investigation has been particularly outspoken and unequivocal and has accused a member of the Russian government, Adam Delimkhanov, as the man who ordered the hit, based on his findings. Delimkhanov has denied any complicity.
No one makes major statements of international significance in Dubai without Sheikh Mohammed’s approval. He is the ruler of Dubai and the vice president and prime minister of the UAE; therefore, when Tamim was attributed with the following quote in press reports, it may have been the official state line: “The Chechens have taken their grievances outside Chechnya. They are killing each other abroad. As a federative state, Russia holds full moral and state responsibility for allowing these criminals and killers to solve their disputes on our land.”
The assasination — on World Cup day, particularly — must have been a biting afront to Sheikh Mohammed. On the Monday after the World Cup, Sheikh Mohammed was on a plane to Russia at the invitation of prime minister Vladimir Putin. It was a two-day trip, and Sheikh Mohammed also met with president Medvedev. Officially, the trip was advertised to discuss “bilateral relations between the UAE and Russia and discuss new avenues of cooperation between the two friendly countries in the areas of economy, culture, tourism and technology,” but no doubt the assassination and Chechnya were topics behind closed doors, because Adam Delimkhanov is Kadyrov’s cousin and right-hand man.
Since Sheikh Mohammed’s Russian trip, Tamim’s investigation has widened, and the public squabbling between him (Dubai) and Delimkhanov (Chechnya) has intensified to the point of insult trading. And Tamim has brought Kadyrov closer to the investigation through another source: The Iranian. He was one of the first group taken into custody by Tamim, and it turns out he was a “groom” for the Kadyrov stable in Dubai.
With this as the backdrop in April and May, Royal Ascot — one of Sheikh Mohammed’s favorite hangouts — loomed on the horizon for June, and Kadyrov’s Bankable was entered for the meet’s Royal Hunt Cup — the 4:20 on June 17.
One can only imagine the high-ranking conversations that took place about Ascot between Dubai, Moscow, and Grozny for the decision to be reached that Ramzan Kadyrov and Sheikh Mohammed would not share the same public space.