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Deputy Muslim Leader of North Ossetia Shot and Killed

Published: August 18, 2014 (Issue # 1824)



  • The Mukhtarov Mosque stands on the left bank of the Terek River in Vladikavkaz, the capital of North Ossetia.
    Photo: Islamcenter.ru

The deputy mufti of Russia's Republic of North Ossetia–Alania was shot dead Saturday in the latest in a string of assassinations of Muslim leaders in the North Caucasus this year.

Rasul Gamzatov, who served as the imam of a mosque in the regional capital Vladikavkaz, was shot at least seven times in the head and chest at the entrance of an apartment building in the city shortly before midnight, the Investigative Committee said Sunday.

The committee said in a statement that it would investigate different possible motives for the crime, including whether the murder could be linked to Gamzatov's professional activities.

Gamzatov's predecessor as deputy mufti of North Ossetia, Ibragim Dudarov, was also shot and killed by an identified assassin on the outskirts of Vladikavkaz in December 2012. The case remains unresolved.

The mufti of North Ossetia, Khadzhimurat Gatsalov, said Sunday that the murders of his two deputies were most likely connected.

"Why is the murder of the first imam not being investigated?" Interfax quoted Gatsalov as saying."Who benefits from killing devout Muslims? This was done by people who want to spread discord in our republic. We have no militants [here] and they do not come here from other places."

North Ossetia is less restive than other parts of the North Caucasus region such as Dagestan and Ingushetia, where attacks on police and officials by Islamic militants are a common occurrence. A total of 96 people were killed as a result of armed conflict in the North Caucasus in the second quarter of this year, according to Kavkazsky Uzel, a regional online news portal. None of these deaths were recorded in North Ossetia.

The president of North Ossetia, Taimuraz Mamsurov, said he thought Gamzatov's assassination could have religious motives.

"We will only be able to establish the motives for the crime when the criminals are apprehended and testify," Mamsurov said, according to Interfax. "This is either an attempt to destabilize the republic or to create artificial strife between our traditional religions — Islam and Christianity — which have coexisted in peace and harmony in the North Caucasus for centuries."

Gamzatov's murder was the fourth killing of a religious figure in the North Caucasus this year, bringing the total number of such killings in the region since 2009 to 39, according to Kavkazsky Uzel.

Many of those murders have been tied to their views on Islam, which extremists deem too moderate.





 


ALL ABOUT TOWN

Wednesday, Oct. 22


English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of today’s seminar is “Grammar Practice.”


Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at “Professional Growth,” a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.



Thursday, Oct. 23


AmCham’s Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.


Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.



Friday, Oct. 24


SPIBA’s ongoing “Breakfast with the Director” series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.


Get your gong on at “Sounds of the Universe,” a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).



Saturday, Oct. 25


AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at avaexpo.ru.



Sunday, Oct. 26


Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the club’s website.



Monday, Oct. 27


Today marks the end of the art exhibit “Neophobia” at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).



Tuesday, Oct. 28


The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBA’s Marketing and Communications Committee’s round table discussion on “Government Relations Practices in Russia” this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.



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