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Apprehensions of Chechens in Europe on the increase after attack by blogger | Voice of america




Chechen emigrants to Europe are increasingly concerned for their safety following a hammer attack last week by a potential assassin against a harsh critic of Chechen-backed Kremlin leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

They say the attack, foiled when popular Chechen blogger Tumso Aburakhmanov confronted his attacker, is part of a violent campaign to silence and intimidate them.

In January, a 44-year-old Chechen blogger was stabbed to death in a hotel in the French city of Lille, and a Chechen activist, a citizen of Georgia, was shot dead in Berlin last year. His assassination has been linked by some Western investigation sites to the Russian military intelligence agency GRU.

Abdurakhmanov, who was recovering from the assault hospital, said he overpowered the assailant, who broke into his apartment with a hammer. The blogger captured the aftermath of the alleged attack in a video that was published on YouTube by the Chechen Association for Human Rights.

Are we afraid of acts of terror against us? Oh, sure, said Musa Taipov, a 62-year-old Chechen journalist who lives in Strasbourg.

This is not the first case of attempted and murdered Chechen emigrants. Many of these murders and attempts took place on the territory of Turkey, and now the attempts take place on the territory of European countries, he told VOA by email.

Abdurakhmanov is a highly publicized critic of Kadyrov and has a large following of social media. He accuses the Chechen leader of having ordered the killings in Lille and Berlin. In the video of the aftermath of the attack, Abdurakhmanov is seen standing above the assailant spattered with blood, asking: Who sent you? Where are you from? How do you know my address?

FILE – Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov at his residence near Moscow, August 31, 2019.

The attacker is named Ruslan and declared that he was from Moscow and had received a mission from a man in Grozny, the Chechen capital. He adds that he was forced to carry out the assault. They have my mother, he said.

An unidentified person broke into Tumso's apartment and tried to kill him with a hammer while he was sleeping, said the Chechen Association for Human Rights. A fight ensues, in which Tumso manages to neutralize the attacker and call the police. The association did not identify the country where the attack took place.

The bloggers' brother Mukhammad Abdurakhmanov told the Caucasian Knot, an independent news site, that his brother was hit in the head during the fight but was not seriously injured.

Taipov, former bodyguard of Dzhokhar Dudayev, the Chechen rebel president killed in 1996, accused the Kremlin of the chain of assassinations of Chechen dissidents in Russia, Austria, the United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and Turkey, noting that their passports are issued by the authorities in the Russian capital, which means that they seem to have no problem obtaining passports.

He told VOA: The purpose of the killings is to intimidate, silence, spread fear and distrust of each other and of each other. Despite the conservatism and the proximity of the Chechen community, the Chechens are open to contact with everyone. Now many of us will think before we open the door to our house or apartment. Other Chechen emigrants become vigilant, avoiding meeting people they do not know and varying their routines.

We will ensure our safety, we are not able to store firearms, even at home, we are not allowed, so we are practically defenseless against Russian terrorism, said Taipov.

The failed assault on Abdurakhmanov, who seeks political asylum in Poland, came a year after Magomed Daudov, Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, warned the blogger a year ago in a video: We weren't Let's not kill you, we will amuse you in a surprising way. From now on, when you go to sleep, make sure to lock the door.

Abdurakhmanov, a former manager of an electricity company, fled Chechnya when his car accidentally blocked the procession of a member of the Kadyrov family in 2015, Russia Kommersant reported the newspaper. A dispute has broken out over the incident.

People walk in front of the Coq Hardi hotel near the train station in central Lille, in the north of France, on February 11, 2020, where the Chechen blogger Imran Aliev was found dead on January 30, 2020 by French emergency.

Earlier this month, French police officials said they identified the alleged murderer during the January assassination in Lille of Imran Aliyev, another Chechen blogger, who was stabbed to death in his hotel room. They said he had ties to Kadyrov.

Kremlin officials last week rejected suggestions that the Kremlin be involved in the massacre and attacks on Chechen critics of Kadyrov. Asked why the enemies of the Chechen leaders were being attacked, Russian President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov suggested to journalists on Thursday that the attacks are unrelated, saying: We are not inclined to establish parallel.

He said Polish police would likely investigate the attack, adding that we don't think it is a significant incident for the Russian agenda.

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