Uranium Traffickers Convicted North Ossetia, Russia


A Vladikavkaz (North Ossetia, Russia) court convicted two Russian citizens and an Azerbaijani citizen of illegal trafficking in radioactive materials on 13 February 2001, Severnaya Osetiya reported. Zaurbek Makayev, a lieutenant colonel in the North Ossetian police, was sentenced to six years in prison; Gennadiy Mamitov, a resident of Vladikavkaz, received a four-year sentence; and Nauraddin Ubishayev, the Azerbaijani, also received a four-year sentence.  Makayev attempted to sell 308 uranium oxide tablets weighing about 1.5 kg [probably low-enriched uranium oxide fuel pellets for a nuclear reactor], using Mamitov and Ubishayev as middlemen. Ubishayev, traveling on a fraudulent Russian passport, took a 10g sample of the uranium to Turkey in June 2001 and according to this report, had located a buyer. [The article did not provide any information about the identity of the prospective buyer.] On 28 July 2001, however, FSB agents arrested all three suspects and seized the uranium, which had been stored in Makayev's garage (see abstract 20000640 for details of the arrest). A 1 March 2001 report in Kommersant noted that Makayev had involved Mamitov, a former customs inspector, in the deal in order to use his contacts among local smugglers.[1] According to Kommersant, the sample shipment was carried out of Russia through the Verkhniy Lars border checkpoint  into Georgia and then on to Turkey.[1] Kommersant also did not provide any details about the prospective buyer in Turkey, and added that the source of the uranium has not yet been identified, although it is believed to have been brought into North Ossetia from another region of Russia.[1]

[1] Marina Lepina, "Prison Warden in Trouble Over Enriched Uranium," Kommersant, 1 March 2001, p. 12; in "Three Sentenced in North Ossetia for Attempt to Sell Uranium in Turkey,"  FBIS Document CEP20010301000229.

Abstract Number :  20010130
Headline:  Uranium Traffickers Convicted North Ossetia, Russia
Date:  27 February 2001
Bibliography:   Integrum Techno, https://www.integrum.ru
Orig. Src.:   Severnaya Osetiya (Vladikavkaz), 27 February 2001
Material:   LEU


February 27, 2001

This article is part of a collection examining reported incidents of nuclear or radioactive materials trafficking in or originating from the Newly Independent States.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2019.