Senior judge killed in Russia's Dagestan province

Reuters News
Posted: Sep 25, 2013 2:13 PM

MAKHACHKALA, Russia (Reuters) - A Supreme Court judge in Russia's North Caucasus province of Dagestan was shot dead along with his son on Wednesday, the second member of the court to be killed this year in a region beset by an Islamist insurgency and violent crime.

Mukhtar Shapiyev and his son were shot in the Dagestani capital, Makhachkala, and pronounced dead shortly after arriving at hospital, the regional Interior Ministry branch said.

Dagestan, a mostly Muslim region on the Caspian Sea, is beset by shootings and bomb attacks, many targeting police, state officials or moderate clerics. Another Supreme Court judge was killed in January.

Most of the violence is blamed on an Islamist insurgency rooted in post-Soviet separatist wars in neighboring Chechnya. Some is linked to business disputes or tension between political rivals in a province that is home to dozens of ethnic groups.

Police said they suspected Shapiyev's killing was linked to his job but did not say what precise motive they suspected. Shapiyev was one of 20 judges on the civil bench of the regional Supreme Court, which also has criminal and administrative divisions.

Militants in the North Caucasus say they are fighting for a separate Islamic state in the strip of provinces along Russia's southern border. Rights activists say the insurgency is fuelled by poverty and anger at heavy-handed police tactics.

(Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Kevin Liffey)