A Chechen opposition blogger has fended off a possible assassination attempt by a man who said he was “sent by Moscow”, in what appears to be the latest example of Chechen authorities trying to silence the critical voices of exiles in Europe.
Tumso Abdurakhmanov, who now lives in Poland, defended himself against a would be attacker who broke into his apartment armed with a hammer, according to the Sweden-based Chechen human rights group Vayfond.
In a video posted by Abdurakhmanov, he is seen holding a hammer, which he says the attacker, who lies bloodied on the floor, tried to assault him with.
“Who sent you? Where have you come from?” Abdurakhmanov asks the man, who responds that he was sent from Moscow to scare him, adding that “they have my mother”.
Abdurakhmanov is one of the most vocal critics of Chechnya’s Ramzan Kadyrov, who left his country in 2015 after receiving threats from an official close to the strongman leader, the Guardian writes.
After his application for asylum in Georgia was rejected, he went to Poland but has not been granted refugee status there either, despite Amnesty International saying that his life would be in danger if he returned to Russia.
The attack against Abdurakhmanov comes after a series of assassinations of Chechen critics suspected of being ordered by the Kremlin-backed Kadyrov.
In August last year, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a Georgian citizen of Chechen origin, was shot dead in a park in central Berlin. Khangoshvili had fought in the second Chechen war against Russian forces in the early 2000s.
The German government has agreed with an assessment by the investigative website Bellingcat that Khangoshvili’s killing was planned by Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB).
Earlier this month, Abdurakhmanov claimed that a fellow Chechen native with alleged high-level ties had killed another opposition blogger Imran Aliyev in France.
Since being in exile, Tumso Abdurakhmanov has used his YouTube channel to target Ramzan Kadyrov and his associates, whom he calls “traitors” to the Chechnya for abandoning the fight for independence from Russia and switching their allegiance to Vladimir Putin.
Magomed Daudov, one of the officials targeted by Abdurakhmanov, responded with a video of his own in which he threatened the exiled blogger.
“From now on, when you go to bed, make sure that you lock the door with a key. When you go outside, be vigilant. If you get a kick in the back, know that it’s no accident,” Kadyrov says in the video.
Speaking to the Associated Press Abdurakhmanov said that he does not feel safe in Poland.
“I take Daudov’s words very seriously,” he said. “He is a person who has the power to follow through on his threats.”