Chechnya murder glossed over as Abu Dhabi mulls deals

Abu Dhabi's Royal Group may invest millions of dollars in Chechnya, Russian republic keen for Gulf cash
Chechnya murder glossed over as Abu Dhabi mulls deals
Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya leader
By Bloomberg
Tue 22 Feb 2011 10:43 AM

Royal Group, run by the brother of Abu Dhabi’s ruler, may
invest several hundred million dollars in housing and agriculture projects in
Chechnya, said Ramzan Kadyrov, the Russian region’s leader.

Royal Group, which invested in Al-Reem, a $60bn man-made
island project in Abu Dhabi, recently sent a delegation to the region, Kadyrov
said.

“We proposed some projects to them and they really liked
them,” said Kadyrov, who has spearheaded Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s
campaign to rebuild infrastructure devastated by two wars since 1994. “They
said they are ready to participate in building homes and in the agricultural
sector.”

Russia is trying to lure investment to the North Caucasus
region, which has seen almost daily attacks on government officials and police.
With the Winter Olympics taking place in the nearby resort of Sochi in 2014,
Putin has tried to drum up investment in the mostly Muslim region.

Royal Group will spend as much as $100m in the first phase
of a housing project, said Samia Bou Azza, a spokeswoman. The total value “may
go up in different phases” and the company is considering investment in
livestock, the dairy and power industries, she said Monday.

The plan is part of growing interest in Russian investment
in the Gulf region. UAE investors, including Gulftainer Company, a port operator
in Sharjah, and Dubai-based Damac Properties last year agreed to spend $800m in
Russia. The deals were sealed during Putin’s investment forum in Sochi.

Verno Capital, a Moscow-based hedge fund, in November won a
mandate to manage $100m for Abu Dhabi sovereign wealth fund Mubadala
Development. Roland Nash in December quit after 14 years as chief strategist of
Renaissance Capital to join Verno in the same capacity.

The Chechen leader, 34, said he first discussed investment
opportunities at a meeting in June last year with the crown prince of Abu
Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. He then met Sheikh Tahnoon bin
Zayed al Nahyan, who is chairman of Royal Group and another son of Abu Dhabi
ruler Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, last year.

Royal Group is active in media, trade, financing, real
estate, manufacturing, construction and technology.

One of Kadyrov’s aides, Adam Delimkhanov, is wanted by Interpol
for allegedly masterminding the March 2009 murder of a leading rival of the
Chechen president in Dubai. Sulim Yamadayev was gunned down in an elite
seafront housing complex, in a high-profile case for the main business and
tourist hub in the Gulf, a popular destination for wealthy Russians and other
foreigners.

Dubai authorities tried two men for the murder, including an
Iranian who worked as a groom for Kadyrov’s horses in the city state. After
they were convicted of the crime and sentenced to life imprisonment, a Dubai
court in December reduced the prison term to 27 months; with time served, they
are due for release in mid-2011.

The potential business ties between Abu Dhabi and Chechnya
show the controversy surrounding the murder is being forgotten, said Petrov at
the Carnegie Center, said Nikolai Petrov, an analyst from the Moscow Carnegie
Center.

The cases of other suspects in the murder are being reviewed
by the court and decisions on whether to pursue suspects through Interpol
depend on the judgments, Major-General Khamis al Mazinah, deputy commander of
Dubai police, said Monday.

Kadyrov said accusations against Delimkhanov, whom he
described as a “friend and a brother,” are “untrue” and “unfounded.” According
to Dubai police, the Kadyrov aide arranged the delivery of the murder weapon, a
gold-plated Makarov pistol.

Abu Dhabi and Dubai are the two biggest members of the UAE,
the second-largest Arab economy. In 2004, another Gulf state, Qatar, allowed
two Russian agents to return home after sentencing them to life for the murder
of a former president of breakaway Chechnya, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev.

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