Dagestani Leader's Son Linked to Kidnapping

Dagestan's newly appointed top tax official was abducted last week on the orders of the son of Dagestani President Mukhu Aliyev, the tax official's lawyer said Monday.

Vladimir Radchenko, who was recently appointed by Moscow to head the Dagestani branch of the Federal Tax Service, was abducted at gunpoint Friday by unknown men who demanded that he leave the turbulent North Caucasus republic, Kommersant and Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported Monday, citing local police.

In an interview with Ekho Moskvy radio Monday evening, Radchenko's lawyer said Aliyev's son, Gadzhimurad Aliyev, told the tax official to leave Dagestan, "the sooner the better," and that he would not assume his new post.

After this conversation, Radchenko was briefly kidnapped, lawyer Murad Kakhaimanov told Ekho Moskvy.

In Dagestan, a multiethnic and clannish republic, authorities strive to balance interests with an unofficial policy of giving important posts to representatives of certain ethnic groups.

The previous head of the republic's tax service, who quit in November, was an ethnic Lezgin, and for the second time in a week hundreds of protesters Monday, including local tax officials, surrounded the Dagestani branch of the Federal Tax Service to prevent Radchenko from going to work.

On Friday, two men reportedly put a gun to Radchenko's back, took him from his office and put him in a taxi. Several blocks away, Radchenko made a call on his cell phone and passed the handset to his captors, who released him after a brief conversation with the person Radchenko called, Kommersant reported.

Nonetheless, the captors demanded that he leave Dagestan, the report said.

Local authorities have opened a criminal investigation into the abduction and threats against Radchenko, who was kept under protection over the weekend.

On Feb. 2, several hundred protesters also rallied in front of the tax service headquarters in Makhachkala, prompting police to talk Radchenko out of crossing the border into Dagestan.

Top law enforcement officials in the republic told Radchenko that a bomb had been planted in his Makhachkala office and that they could not guarantee his safety, Kommersant reported.

Radchenko, a former tax chief in another North Caucasus republic, Karachayevo-Cherkessia, was appointed to head the service's Dagestani branch against the will of the republic's leadership, Kommersant reported.