A deafening explosion shook the center of Kyiv on the late afternoon of Sept. 8 as a bomb went off in the car of a Georgian citizen Ali Tamayev, killing him and wounding his two passengers.
Tamayev’s black Toyota Camry with a Georgian license plate number exploded as he was driving the busy Pavla Skoropadskoho Street in the very heart of the city, next to the Arena shopping mall.
Timayev died instantly, while a woman in the passenger seat was very badly injured and taken to the hospital. A child of approximately 8-10 years old, who was in the backseat, was also taken to the hospital, but with lighter injuries.
Ukraine’s Interior Ministry has stated that it was a targeted murder but gave no versions of who could want Timayev dead.
The victim had a tumultuous past.
Born in Chechnya in 1978, Timayev had a Georgian citizenship. He was known at least by one other name: Timur Makhauri. He was at different times wanted or prosecuted by the Russian, Ukrainian, and Turkish authorities and reportedly survived three assassination attempts.
Artem Shevchenko, a spokesperson for Ukraine’s Interior Ministry, described Timayev as “well-known in criminal circles” and “not an example of a law-abiding citizen.”
Ukraine’s Security Service, or SBU, claimed Timayev was opposed to Russia’s Vladimir Putin regime, chased by the Russian special services, and a bitter enemy of Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic.
Wanted in Russia
According to Ukrainian law enforcement agencies, for a year from 1999 to 2000, Timayev fought against Russian government forces in Dagestan in the northern Caucasus.
Ukrainian news website Hromadske said that Timayev once told them during an interview that he was a soldier serving in the Georgian special forces, and in this capacity he fought Russia in the Russo-Georgian War in 2008. He reportedly took part in other military operations on the Georgian side until 2012.
Ukrainian website Censor.net said, quoting their sources in Georgia, that at that time Timayev was friends with then-Georgian Deputy Interior Minister Giorgi Lortkipanidze, who in 2015-2016 was chief of police in Odesa Oblast, while Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili served as the region’s governor.
The Kyiv Post could not reach Lortkipanidze to confirm his connections with Timayev.
Wanted in Turkey as Russian spy
In 2012, Timayev went to Syria, where he was training the rebels opposing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Timayev said to Hromadske.
Turkish police detained Timayev in the airport of Istanbul in 2012 on the charges of murder and attempted murder of five Chechens in Turkey who led guerilla activities against Russian authorities. The Turkish prosecutor’s office also called him an accomplice in the murder of Shamil Basayev, a Chechen military Islamist killed in 2006.
Apart from that, he was suspected to be an agent of Russian secret services and was being under arrest and investigation for more than three years.
Timayev was released in July 2016, shortly before the Turkish coup d’état attempt, because the investigation lacked evidence to prove his involvement in the murders.
Later, he moved to Ukraine and, according to Hromadske, joined the Battalion of Sheikh Mansur, an unofficial Chechen group that is reportedly participating in the fighting in the eastern Ukraine on the government side.
Arrest in Ukraine
In Ukraine, Timayev first got in the news in January, when he was arrested in Kyiv for illegal possession of weapons.
His car was stopped and searched on Basseyna Street, very close to the spot where he would be killed months later. The police found the unregistered Glock pistol and the Stechkin automatic pistol, which, according to Interior Ministry, was stolen from the war zone.
He struck a deal with the investigation and got a suspended sentence.
Murdered in Kyiv
The murder of Timayev follows a series of resonant murders and attempted murders in Kyiv.
It came three months after an assassination attempt of the two high-profile Chechens Amina Okuyeva and Adam Osmayev, members of the Chechen Battalion of Dzhokhar Dudayev. Okuyeva and Osmayev were shot at by a man pretending to be a journalist on June 1 in Kyiv. Both survived the attempt.
Another car bomb killed Maksym Shapoval, a top officer of the Defense Ministry’s intelligence service, on June 27 in Kyiv.
Days before that, a car belonging to a businessman known to own expensive real estate in Crimea was blown up in Kyiv, leaving no one wounded.
And earlier in the year, Denis Voronenkov, an ex-member of the Russian parliament who had fled the country and become an open critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was gunned down on March 23 outside the Premier Palace hotel in Kyiv. His killer, Pavlo Parshov, was shot dead by Voronenkov’s bodyguard. Ukraine’s authorities said that Parshov was a Russian agent.
A little over a year ago, another car bomb killed Pavlo Sheremet, a prominent Ukrainian-Belarusian journalist who worked at Ukrainska Pravda and Radio Vesti. The investigation made no progress, bringing rage of the local journalists’ community, who protested the authorities’ inactiveness.
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