Who is killing Chechen critics of Kadyrov in Europe?
Yet another Chechen living in Europe who has openly criticized that Kadyrov has been killed. This is the fourth time a murder or attempted murder of this type has happened since summer 2019.
This time, blogger Mamikhan Umarov, who in April 2020 published a critical video message addressed to Kadyrov, was fatally shot in the head in the center of Vienna,.
Who was Mamikhan Umarov?
43-year-old Mamikhan Umarov was killed on the evening of July 4 in the parking lot of a shopping center in the Viennese suburb of Gerasdorf. A few hours later, a suspect, also Chechen, was detained in Linz.
Mamikhan Umarov, who called himself Anzor, had an Austrian passport under the name Bek Martin. He moved to live in Austria back in 2005. Prior to this, he was an investigator in the Chechen Shariah National Security Ministry.
In April 2020, he posted an online video in which he is standing on a bridge in Vienna and swears obscenely at the head of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, as well as his father. He also openly gives his phone number on camera and says:
“I’m not hiding my face, you see who I am. Send whoever you think is man enough to take me on.”
A source from BBC claimed to have seen this video. However, it is no longer available on the site.
Umarov worked in Chechnya during the second Chechen war and held separatist ideals. In a February 2020 interview with Ukrainian journalists, he said that he had left Chechnya after the new authorities, who had developed a close relationship with Moscow, began to destroy everyone who was involved in the idea of “independent Ichkeria.”
Since 2010, said Umarov, he had been collaborating with intelligence agencies in Ukraine and Austria, in particular, to carry out more than 10 contract killings, as these “orders” came to him personally.
Chechen fingerprints on murders and attempted murders in Ukraine
In December 2014, Igor Mosiychuk, MP of the Ukranian Verkhovna Rada and member of the Radical Party, fired a gun at a portrait of Ramzan Kadyrov on camera and promised to come after him in Chechnya.
Ramzan Kadyrov then said: “Apparently, everyone was getting tired of Mosiychuk, and they wanted to remove him. They will kill him themselves, and then they will say that Kadyrov did it.”
In February 2020, Umarov told Ukrainian journalists that “people from Chechnya” contacted him and asked him to organize the murder of this MP, along with two more Chechen field commanders who fought on the side of Kiev during conflicts in Eastern Ukraine – Adam Osmayev and his wife Amin Okuyev.
They offered one and a half million euros to organize these three murders, said Umarov said, presenting the audio recording of the conversation with the “customer” as evidence.
Umarov said that he relayed all this information to Mosiychuk and Ocmayev. The MP later confirmed this in a conversation with the BBC.
The assassination attempt on the Chechen field commanders mentioned by Umarov was eventually committed, and Amina Okueva was killed.
An assassination attempt was also committed against Mosiychuk, but he survived.
Critics of Kadyrov and Putin, who were murdered or had assassination attempts committed against them in 2019-2020
Umarov’s murder is just the latest of four attempts on the lives of Chechens living in Europe in the past year alone.
- “Loving Kadyrov” — head of the Chechen Republic filmed in “humorous” videos with leading Russian bloggers
- Tourism or tanks? Why Russia, Chechnya want a new road to Georgia
In August 2019, a citizen of Georgia of Chechen origin, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, was shot dead in Berlin. He, like Umarov, took part in the separatist campaign during the Second Chechen War, before fleeing to Germany, where he sought asylum.
In May 2020, the German federal prosecutor’s office stated that Khangoshvili was killed by order of “state services in the central government of the Russian Federation.”
On February 1, 2020, in the French city of Lille, the body of a Chechen Imran Aliyev was found in a hotel room. Aliyev was known for saying insulting remarks addressed towards the head of Chechnya.
On February 26, 2020, an attempt was made in Sweden on the life of the well-known Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov, known for his constant criticism of Ramzan Kadyrov. A man and a woman with Russian citizenship were detained as suspects.
Threats and murders of other Kadyrov and Putin critics
This is the second high-profile murder of a Chechen that has occurred Vienna. In 2009, Umar Israilov, a former security guard of Kadyrov’s, was killed there.
Boris Nemtsov, one of the most well-known critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot in Moscow in February 2015 as part of an operation planned by a group of Chechen citizens. They were arrested and sentenced. However, people in Kadyrov’s close circle, who were suspected to have participated in the crime, somehow avoided even an interrogation.
In June 2020, an attempt to assassinate TV presenter Giorgi Gabunia, who had a year earlier spoken offensively about Russian President Putin on the air, was prevented in Tbilisi.
Fear from those who fled Chechnya
The murder of Umarov caused a stir among the Chechen expat community living in Vienna, one of its representatives told the BBC anonymously.
People send messages to each other and call the incident an execution.
“People do not feel safe. There is anger, resentment and certainly fear. But the more they kill in this way, the more people will protest and speak openly about their own thoughts,” said the anonymous BBC source.