Anti-Kadyrov Chechen blogger says target of hammer attack

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov walks before a meeting of the State Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 18, 2014. — AFP pic
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov walks before a meeting of the State Council at the Kremlin in Moscow on September 18, 2014. — AFP pic

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MOSCOW, Feb 27 — A blogger from Russia’s mainly Muslim region of Chechnya critical of its strongman leader Ramzan Kadyrov said today he had fended off an attacker armed with a hammer while at home in exile in Europe.

Tumso Abdurakhmanov posted a video showing the attacker, whom he had apparently overpowered, covered in blood. He also brandished the hammer that he said the assailant wanted to kill him with.

The Sweden-based Chechen rights group Vayfond described the attack as an “assassination attempt”.

Abdurakhmanov, currently in Poland, has lived in exile since 2015 after receiving what he describes as threats to his life from Chechnya.

His YouTube video blog critical of Kadyrov has some 75,000 subscribers.

He gained greater international prominence earlier this year when he said that the murder of another Chechen blogger, Imran Aliev — known as Mansur Stariy — in the French city of Lille in late January was an assassination carried out by another Chechen whom he named.

“Who sent you? Where did you come from?” Abdurakhmanov repeatedly asked the attacker in the video.

The man said he had flown from Moscow to attack him. “They gave me your address,” he said, adding: “They are holding my mother.”

His brother Mukhammad told the Kavkazky Uzel specialist website that Abdurakhmanov had been hospitalised under police guard with non-serious injuries following the attack in Poland. The attacker had also been hospitalised.

‘Killers sent from Chechnya’

When Abdurakhmanov, 34, left Chechnya in 2015 he headed first for Georgia where his request for asylum was rejected. He has since sought sanctuary in Poland but says his asylum bid there was rejected in 2018 due to possible security risks for the country.

The attack comes amid growing concern over the security of Chechen dissidents living in Europe and elsewhere after repeated reports of attacks.

“This is not the first attack on a person whom Ramzan Kadyrov considers to be objectionable,” the Memorial rights group said in a statement.

“Many killings and assassination bids carried out in Moscow and other regions of Russia, in Turkey, Ukraine, western and eastern Europe, were carried out by killers sent from Chechnya,” it said.

Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a 40-year-old Georgian national and former Chechen rebel commander, was shot twice in the head at close range in a Berlin park in 2019, allegedly by a Russian man who was arrested shortly afterwards.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said it would be up to Polish law enforcement agencies to investigate the attack on Abdurakhmanov but said: “I do not think it is a very important event for the Russian agenda.”

He told reporters he was “not inclined” to see a pattern of attacks on opponents of Kadyrov.

Kadyrov emerged as Chechnya’s undisputed number one in the wake of the killing of his father Akhmat in a 2004 Grozny bomb attack.

The Kremlin credits him with bringing stability to the area after an Islamist insurgency that followed two post-Soviet wars. But rights groups say this has come at the expense of horrific abuses including murders and kidnappings. — AFP

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