Sweden-based dissident Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov has been assassinated, according to Chechen opposition figures.
On Monday, 1Adat, a Telegram channel and social movement, reported they had confirmed through sources in Chechnya and Europe that Abdurakhmanov had been gunned down. They said his brother, Mohmad Abdurakhmanov, had been taken into protective custody. In a video address on Monday, Anzor Maskhadov, a former representative of the Chechen republic of Ichkeria and an associate of Abdurakhmanov, also confirmed his death.
The Swedish police told OC Media they were aware of the reports but declined to comment at this time.
Reports of Abdurakhmanov’s murder began to emerge late last week, and on Saturday, Chechen human rights organisation Vayfond said they had lost all contact with both Abdurakhmanov and his brother. Abdurakhmanov has not published anything on his Telegram channel since 30 November.
Abdurakhmanov had been an outspoken critic of the Russian authorities in Chechnya including the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov personally. He previously survived an assassination attempt in February 2020, when a man broke into his home in Sweden and attacked him with a hammer. Abdurakhmanov managed to subdue his attacker, escaping with minor injuries. Mohmad Abdurakhmanov was also reportedly the target of an assassination attempt last year in Germany.
In March 2019, the speaker of the Chechen Parliament, Magomed Daudov declared a blood feud against Tumso Abdurakhmanov.
Russian ‘state terrorism’
Critics of the Russian authorities, especially those in Chechnya, have frequently been targeted with assassination abroad.
Tumso Abdurakhmanov fled Russia in 2015, but like many political refugees based in Europe who remained critical of the Chechen and Russian authorities, he became a target of attacks with evidence pointing to Kadyrov’s regime in Chechnya.
In 2020, another Chechen government critic, Mamikhan Umarov was shot dead near Vienna, Austria. His unidentified killer, reportedly also from Chechnya, was apprehended and convicted of murder by a local court last summer.
In 2019, a Chechen-Georgian asylum-seeker in Germany, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was assassinated in Berlin. His killer, Vadim Krasikov, was sentenced to life in prison. The presiding judge in the case ruled that the Russian government had commissioned the killing, accusing Russia of ‘state terrorism’.
Critics of Kadyrov’s regime in exile have also repeatedly alleged that their relatives have been persecuted by the Chechen authorities as a form of retaliation against them or to pressure them to remain silent.