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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Batdyev: Bounty on Son-in-Law's Head

Seven suspects have been arrested and five others are being sought in connection with the disappearance of seven shareholders of a chemical plant in the North Caucasus republic of Karachayevo-Cherkessia, regional prosecutors said Saturday.

North Caucasus Deputy Prosecutor Boris Karnaukhov told Interfax on Friday that six suspects had been arrested in connection with the disappearances, including three policemen. A source in the North Caucasus branch of the Prosecutor General's Office told Interfax on Saturday that a seventh suspect -- also a policeman -- had been arrested.

The authorities are looking for five other suspects, including Ali Kaitov, the son-in-law of the republic's acting president, Mustafa Batdyev.

Among those missing and feared dead is a member of the local parliament, Rasul Bogatyrev, and his companions, who were reportedly involved in a commercial dispute with Kaitov over the Tsakhilov chemical plant.

Batdyev on Saturday announced a reward of 5 million rubles ($170,000) for information leading to the arrest of Kaitov and 2 million rubles for information leading to the arrest of suspects involved in the killing of Ansar Tsubyev, the republic's deputy prime minister.

Relatives and friends of the missing men, who stormed the republic's government headquarters in Cherkessk on Thursday, agreed Friday to leave the building after negotiations with Dmitry Kozak, President Vladimir Putin's envoy in the Southern Federal District.

The relatives had called on Batdyev to resign over Kaitov's alleged involvement in the disappearances.

Batdyev said Friday that his daughter had filed for a divorce and that he condemned Kaitov's actions, but did not say to which actions he was referring.

Bogatyrev's confidants controlled the chemical plant's dealership network until it was taken over by Kaitov's uncle, Magomed Kaitov, earlier this year, Kommersant reported. Bogatyrev, who leads one of the most influential clans in the republic, was apparently upset by the new management's decision to change their dealer. Kaitov, who is a also a member of the local parliament, offered to meet Bogatyrev in an effort to resolve their differences, Bogatyrev's sister Fatima told the paper.

Bogatyrev and his six companions drove up to Kaitov's dacha late on Oct. 10. Shortly after their arrival, shots from submachine guns were heard inside the fence that surrounds the dacha.

No one has seen either Bogatyrev or his six companions since then, and their relatives suspect they were killed and possibly dumped into either the Kuban River or one of the nearby reservoirs.

One week later, unknown assailants shot and killed Tsubyev in what local police sources said was a contract hit most probably ordered by an organized crime group seeking to redistribute businesses and property in the republic. The killing and disappearances sparked off protests by several hundred people outside the Cherkessk government building.

Relatives and friends of Bogatyrev and the other missing men took part in these protests. Participants told local media that the killing of Tsubyev and disappearance of Bogatyrev and his six companions could be connected.

Six people have been detained on suspicion of involvement in the Tsubyev killing, but no information was available Sunday about their identity or possible motives. The protests continued after Tsubyev's burial last Tuesday, despite Batdyev vowing to relatives of the missing men that he would find them.

The relatives stormed Kaitov's dacha to find spent bullet cartridges and bloodstains around the building. About 500 angry men and women gathered in front of the government building Thursday to demand Batdyev's ouster. The protesters stormed the government building after he refused to meet with them.

Protesters also demanded that heads of the local branches of the Interior Ministry and Federal Security Service be fired. The local parliament passed a resolution Thursday calling for these officials and the republic's chief prosecutor to resign.

Staff Writer Carl Schreck contributed to this report.