Asia Crisis

Dubai police detain Russian in Chechen killing

* Dubai police detain Russian suspect

* Dubai police confirm Yamadayev is dead

* Dubai police say organised criminal group behind murder

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By Tamara Walid

DUBAI, March 31 (Reuters) - Police have detained a Russian national in connection with the killing of Sulim Yamadayev, an ex-rebel Chechen leader, the Dubai police chief said on Tuesday.

"Police have detained a Russian national who is under investigation," Major General Dahi Khalfan Tamim told Reuters.

"There is a suspect but we are still investigating. Nevertheless, the case is clear and there is no confusion over what happened. An organised criminal group was behind the assassination," he said. Tamim rejected reports in Russian media that Yamadayev had survived the attack, which took place in the underground car park of a luxury seaside apartment block in Dubai, a tourism hub that is home to hundreds of thousands of wealthy expatriates.

"He was shot and died instantly on the scene," Tamim said.

"He had two people with him. They did not have any weapons but tried to resist the assailant but he was able to escape. One of them claimed the gunman hit him with the butt of his gun on the head before escaping. He is suffering from a head injury."

Yamadayev, a Chechen rebel who became a decorated Russian officer, had challenged Moscow-backed Kadyrov for control of Chechen security forces until last year, when he was dismissed from commanding an elite battalion and forced to flee.

Russia fought two wars during the 1990s against separatists in mainly Muslim Chechnya and eventually tamed the province by allowing former rebels from the Kadyrov clan who switched sides to take over the local government.

Last September, Sulim's brother Ruslan -- a former military commander in Chechnya -- was killed by unidentified gunmen in a busy central Moscow street. Kadyrov at that time rejected accusations he had been behind the murder and said the killers wanted to discredit him and to destabilise Chechnya.

Chechen exiles say three Chechens have been assassinated in the last six months in Istanbul and one in Vienna. Kadyrov has rejected claims he could be linked to those murders.

Tamim said police continued to question potential witnesses.

Tamim said the victim had been shot from behind. Police deemed the shooting an assassination due to Yamadayev's history.

"The man has a long track record of dispute with Chechen(s)," he said. (writing by Thomas Atkins)