Aslanbek Dadayev and Elimpasha Khatsuev charged with the assassination of an influential politician of Chechen background denied the murder rap on Monday.
Ruslan Yamadayev, a member of Russia's State Duma (lower house of parliament), was gunned down in central Moscow in September 2008 when returning from a meeting in the Kremlin. He was shot ten times while sitting a car.
Yamadayev was a prominent opponent of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, who was initially suspected of being linked to the death by the Yamadayev family, but has denied any involvement in the killing. In the months prior to the assassination, the pro-Moscow Kadyrov was engaged in a bitter rivalry with the influential Yamadayev clan.
According to investigators, Dadayev and Khatsuev received a proposal to kill Yamadayev. The men allegedly agreed and acquired automatic firearms, and then started tailing Yamadayev in order to learn his order of the day and travel routes, investigators said. The assassination was committed on September 24, 2008.
After the announcement of the indictment, Dadayev, whom investigators consider Yamadayev's direct killer, denied the allegations. "I am not guilty, I believe the allegations are false," he said.
Khatsuev, who supposedly drove the car, from which Dadayev shot Yamadayev, pleaded guilty to illegal arms trafficking only, adding he had no relation to the other crimes.
His lawyer, Zaur Samkhanov, said the accusation is based on "conjectures and scraps of phone conversations." He said he hopes Khatsuev's innocence would be proven during trial.
Ruslan's brother Sulim, a Hero of Russia who commanded the elite Vostok Battalion in Chechnya, died in Dubai on March 28, 2009. He was allegedly shot in the chest with three bullets from a gold-plated gun in the car park of a luxury apartment complex where he was living with his wife and children.
Tajik businessman Makhsudzhon Ismatov and Iranian Mahdi Lorniya were accused of planning the murder. Lorniya previously worked in Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's stables.
Later, the influential Russian Kommersant daily reported that Sulim survived the attempt on his life and had sworn to take revenge on Chechnya's leader, citing the former Chechen military commander's brother.
Isa, a third brother of the Yamadayev clan, said an attempt on his life was made in July 2009.
MOSCOW, July 5 (RIA Novosti)