Russia: Ex-mayor 'planned to shoot down plane'

Said Amirov

A former Russian city mayor bought a portable air defence missile system with the aim of shooting down a plane carrying a political rival, it's alleged.

Said Amirov, once the powerful mayor of Makhachkala in troubled Dagestan, is accused of plotting to kill the head of the republic's pensions department, reports the daily Kommersant. He planned to blame rebels for the missile attack, it's alleged, but was arrested after an associate told police about the plot. Amirov has been charged with terrorism and arms trafficking, the report says.

It's not the first time he's landed in the dock, having lost his post and been thrown out of the ruling United Russia party in June when he was arrested for the murder of the head of the city's investigations department. Amirov denies all charges, insisting the accusations against him are politically motivated. Despite an assassination attempt leaving him confined to a wheelchair, Amirov was widely held to be the most powerful politician in Dagestan - considered Russia's most volatile region. In January, President Vladimir Putin dismissed its leader, after he was seen as unable to deal with Islamist insurgents and criminal gangs, installing Ramzan Abdulatipov in his place.

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