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Chechen blogger claims he ‘staged own death’ to fool Kadyrov

17 April 2023
Tumso Abdurakhmanov. Screengrab from video, Tumso Abdurakhmanov/YouTube

Chechen opposition blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov has claimed that he planted and orchestrated reports of his murder last December to evade an assassination attempt ordered by Ramzan Kadyrov. 

In a video published on his YouTube channel on Sunday, Abdurakhmanov states that he elaborately faked his own death after being informed that the Head of Chechnya had placed an order for his assassination. 

[Read more on OC Media: Sweden-based Chechen dissident Tumso Abdurakhmanov reportedly murdered

Abdurakhmanov previously survived an assassination attempt in February 2020, during which both he and his attacker were hospitalised. He is a prominent critic of the Chechen government and Ramzan Kadyrov. 

‘Kadyrov allocated a large amount of money, and some Ingush people accepted this order, they pledged to kill me, and they contacted this person with a request for assistance’, says Abdumrakhmanov of last year’s events. ‘And this person suggested that I get them all, trick them, by making a staged video of my murder.’

According to Abdurakhmanov, Kadyrov’s main condition was that the blogger be shot. He added that despite his initial scepticism, he accepted that his choices were to ‘sit and wait for someone to come and fulfil this order’, or attempt to trick Kadyrov. 

Abdurakhmanov and his informant filmed a video in which he appeared to be shot, which he says was sent to the group who had agreed to assassinate the blogger. 

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He claims that people associated with Kadyrov demanded additional evidence, prompting the blogger and his associate to find people who could share and claim to confirm reports of his death. 

The blogger says that his contact offered money to the Chechen opposition Telegram channel 1ADAT, a prominent source of news regarding Chechnya, to falsely report his death. 

‘At first, they refused, the auction began, and in the end, they raised it to $50,000, on which they agreed’, says Abdurakhmanov. 

On 5 December, 1ADAT posted reports of Abdurakhmanov’s death in Sweden, claiming it had been confirmed. Anzor Maskhadov, a former representative of the Chechen republic of Ichkeria and an associate of Abdurakhmanov, also posted a video confirming that the blogger had died. 

Ibragim Yangulbayev, the moderator of the 1ADAT Telegram channel, on Sunday published a video denying that his organisation received money for the post. 

Abdurakhmanov said the Ingush men tasked with his killing were later detained by Chechen authorities, and so he filmed a video pretending to be in a coma to convince them the attempt on his life took place.

On 9 December, Akhmad Zakayev, who served as Deputy Prime Minister in the government of Ichkeria before going on to head the government in exile for several years, announced that Abdurakhmanov had not been killed. 

Over two months later, Abdurakhmanov posted a video announcing that he was alive, and would be resuming his opposition activities. He also told Swedish public broadcaster SVT that he had the support of the Swedish authorities, who at one point provided him with ‘24/7 protection’. 

In his most recent video, the blogger said that Kadyrov’s men began ‘persecuting, torturing, killing’ people connected to the faked death after he was revealed to be alive. 

So far, the Chechen authorities have not commented on the video.

1ADAT have denied that they received money for the post, while claiming that the person facilitating their communication with Abdurakhmanov was, in fact, in the service of Kadyrov. 

OC Media has contacted the Swedish security service for comment. 

Read in Georgian on On.ge.