One of Russia's most wanted criminals, Ibragim Gadzhidadayev, was identified as one of five militants killed in a firefight with police during a special operation in the Dagestani village of Semender on March 20, Kommersant reported.
Gadzhidadayev, who had been receiving payments as part of an extortion scheme "from half of Dagestan's businesspeople and government officials," was identified among the dead, the newspaper reported, citing undisclosed sources.
The scheme involved computer memory sticks full of personal data that militants used to threaten Dagestani government officials and businesspeople, asking them to pay a so-called "jihad tax."
The gang was active not only in Dagestan but also in central Russia, where they kidnapped a businessman in the Moscow region and demanded $16 million in ransom.
According to the National Anti-Terrorism Committee, Gadzhidadayev was also behind the killings of high-ranking officials in Dagestan, including the head of the local Interior Ministry, Adylgerei Magomedtagirov, and Said Afandi al-Chirkawi, one of the most prominent Muslim scholars in the North Caucasus.
In the security operation to catch the militants on March 20, the Federal Security Service blocked off several homes in the village of Semender, a suburb of Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala.
The operation went on for three days, and all five militants and two police officers were killed. A local United Russia deputy, Magomedkhabib Magomedaliyev, was also allegedly found among the dead.
An independent Chechen news source linked to insurgents said in the immediate aftermath of the operation that Gadzhidadayev had fled unharmed.