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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dagestani Politician Loses Case Against Corruption

A Dagestani politician who claims his political rivals handcuffed him to a radiator to keep him from participating in local elections had his case dismissed by the Supreme Court on Thursday.

Ali Aliyev, 60, claims he was prevented from taking part in a vote on June 25 in Dagestan's Constitutional Assembly to elect a new chairman of the State Council. The chairman is the highest executive post in that Caucasus republic on the shores of the Caspian Sea.

"I wanted to set a precedent in Dagestan," said Aliyev, as he waited for the court's decision Thursday. "I wanted to introduce the concept of law and democracy. You simply cannot imagine to what extent the government in the republic is criminalized."

In Aliyev's absence, the 68-year-old incumbent, Magomedali Magomedov, was re-elected. His victory was sealed when President Boris Yeltsin congratulated him on his win, and Prime Minister Sergei Kiriyenko visited the region in July.

Aliyev claims that on the eve of the vote he was poisoned by his opponents. When he woke the next day, he found himself chained to a radiator, with blood on his head. He never pressed charges.

Aliyev says he was running a credible campaign to challenge Magomedov for the top job in Dagestan. But the lone prosecutor investigating his case -- a middle-aged woman who refused to be identified -- said his claims were legally groundless. She said local Dagestani law permits only those nominated by someone from the 14-member Constitutional Council to run for head of state.

"Maybe a perfectly worthy individual has been deprived of his rights, but that is the law," she said, addressing the court to sum up her case.

A spokesman for Magomedov said Thursday that Aliyev could have participated had his backer, Major General Mugudein Khakrimanov, sent his application to the right address. Magomedov's spokesman also claimed that Khakrimanov had then failed to participate in discussions at the Constitutional Council to confirm candidates, and did not protest the decision not to include his candidate, even after the June 25 vote.

Aliyev's lawyer, Professor Yury Stetosovsky, linked Aliyev's plight to what he said was a shocking record of human rights and widespread corruption in Dagestan.

"Dagestan is a powder keg," he said. "The republic is awash with arms. None of us wants to see a second Chechnya."

Of Aliyev's charges of corruption, Magomedov's spokesman said, "There is corruption everywhere in Russia."

The Supreme Court took less than five minutes to deliberate before deciding to uphold an earlier ruling by Dagestan's Supreme Court that Aliyev's claims were groundless.

Aliyev, a former naval commander and the chairman of the Confederation of Peoples of the Northern Caucasus, was one of three candidates contesting the elections.

Stetosovsky and Aliyev vowed to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, France.