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The New Arab Staff

Critic of Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov killed in Vienna in latest suspected assassination

Police blocks a street near the site of a shooting in Gerasdorf, near Vienna [Getty]

Date of publication: 6 July, 2020

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A Chechen former separatist has been assassinated in Vienna.
Chechen exile who was shot dead in the Austrian capital on Saturday was a former separatist and critic of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a firm favourite of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The killing is the latest in a string of deaths among the Chechen diaspora in Europe, in what has been described as a "culling" of Kadyrov critics.

The victim, widely identified by sources, is Mamikhan Umarov - also known as Anzor of Vienna - publication RFE/RL reported.

Officials in the European country have not yet released a name of the victim, who was described as a 43-year-old asylum seeker from the Russian Federation.

The official report said he was shot in the head and died in a parking lot outside a shopping centre in the Vienna suburb of Gerasdorf.

Umarov frequently posted content critical of the separatist leader, Kadyrov, on YouTube.

It is believed that a 47-year-old Russian fled the scene of the crime by car before he was tracked down via police helicopter and arrested 100 miles away from where the shooting occurred.

A second suspect has also been arrested and Austrian counterterrorism police are investigating the crime.

The Austrian police said Umarov had declined police protection before his death, and added it is not year clear if the crime was politically motivated.

Umarov had been an outspoken critic of Russian security forces, and frequently accused them of carrying out assassinations of former Chechen separatists in European countries.

Kadyrov has been accused by rights groups of engaging in kidnappings, tortures, disappearances, targeted killings of political persons and rivals of both Russia and Chechnya.

It isn't the first time a Chechen was targeted abroad.

Earlier this year Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov was attacked in Sweden but was able to fight off his attacker.

Prior to Saturday's killing in Vienna, Abdurakhmanov accused the Chechen authorities of abuses against the family of Umarov.

"This is a man whose brother was kicked in front of the video camera and killed by them. His mother was brought and dragged by the hair to force her to reveal her son's whereabouts," he posted on YouTube on May 31.

People have been targeted and killed abroad since 2004, when a former acting leader of Chechnya, Zelimkhan Yandarbiyev, was assassinated in a car bomb attack in Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Chechen exiles have been targeted and killed in Turkey, Europe and parts of the Middle East.

At least seven other Chechens were assassinated in Turkey between 2003 and 2013, according to the Jamestown Foundation.

These assassinations form a broader network of brazen attacks by Russian intelligence in foreign countries. In 2018 former military intelligence officer Sergei Skripel and his daughter Yulia were poisoned using the deadly nerve agent Novichok in the UK.

According to UK authorities, the Russian military intelligence agency GRU was responsible for the Skripal attack.

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