Russia Monitor is a review of the most important events related to Russian internal and external security, as well as its foreign policies.
Date: 22 October 2021
Turkey Detains Russian Hitmen: Are They Kadyrov’s People?
Turkish authorities have arrested six men on charges of alleged plans to attack Chechen opposition activists residing in Turkey. Four of the purported hitmen are Russian citizens. All signs are that the operation was staged to take revenge on critics of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya.
A court in Istanbul ordered the arrest of six people, including four Russian citizens, for alleged “military and political espionage”, which in a conviction carries a sentence of 15-20 years in prison. In early October, Turkish police and MIT officers detained the suspects in an operation focused on Istanbul and the southern resort city of Antalya, naming them as four Russian citizens, one Ukrainian and one Uzbek. During the search, they found three pistols, one equipped with a silencer and a laser sight, as well as ammunition. Turkish officers raided two apartments in Antalya and three in Istanbul. The men were detained on suspicion of preparing armed attacks on Chechen dissidents, according to Turkish media outlets. On October 20, the Turkish Prosecutor-General’s Office revealed more details on who was detained on October 8 in Antalya and Istanbul. The arrested were Abdula Abdulayev, Ravshan Akhmedov, Beslan Rasayev, and Aslanbek Abdulmuslimov of Russia; Ihor Yefrim of Ukraine; and Amir Yusupov of Uzbekistan. All four Russian citizens come from Chechnya, allegedly led by Beslan Rasayev. The men are also suspected of buying weapons to use against Turkish-based critics of Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen president. The men were ordered to kill blogger Hassan Khalitov and Chechen jihadi commander in Syria Rustam Hajiyev. They were allegedly involved in an attack against a supporter of Kadyrov in early September. Relatives of the beaten Chechen man allegedly promised to take bloody revenge. There have been other cases when Turkish agencies detained people tasked with killing Chechen dissidents, usually at Kadyrov’s request. In 2016, the Turkish security services arrested two Russians, Yuri Anisimov and Aleksandr Smirnov, on suspicion of killing seven Chechen migrants in Turkey. Turkey suspected these two worked for Russian agencies. In 2018 they were extradited to Russia, possibly in exchange for the release of two deputy leaders of the Mejlis, the Crimean Tatar self-governing body, jailed in Russia-occupied Crimea.
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