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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Former Chechen Leader Kidnapped in Moscow

Yakub Deniyev, a former acting head of the Chechen administration, has been abducted and kidnappers are demanding $500,000 ransom, the Moscow office of the Chechen administration said Monday.

Deniyev, who briefly served as acting Chechen head in 1999, was kidnapped Friday after leaving his Moscow home to buy a plane ticket at Vnukovo Airport, said Ramzan Ibragimov, spokesman for the Moscow office of Akhmad Kadyrov's administration. He had planned to fly with his father to Ingushetia on Saturday, Ibragimov said.

The prosecutor's office opened an investigation Saturday.

The Kremlin replaced Deniyev as head of the Chechen administration with Nikolai Koshman. He then worked in the Koshman administration until Akhmad Kadyrov was appointed as head last summer. Since then he has held no steady job.

Ibragimov said that a kidnapper called Deniyev's relatives demanding a ransom of half a million dollars shortly after the former Chechen leader left his home in the Mitino suburb north of Moscow.

"He has been a supporter of the idea that Chechnya must be part of the Russian Federation since 1991, when the idea of the separation of the republic had just surfaced," Ibragimov said. "He disagreed with [then-Chechen President Dzhokhar] Dudayev."

News agencies said Monday that a $500,000 ransom has been collected to pay off the kidnappers, but the source close to Deniyev's family denied the reports. "This family does not have anything close to this kind of money. Deniyev's parents and his brother live in poverty in Karabulak [Ingushetia]. He has no job, but six children, a housewife and his wife's sick mother to support."

The source said the family hoped wealthy Chechens in Moscow would help raise the ransom.