Pictured is Aleksandr Cherkasov, chair of the board of Memorial Human Rights Centre, winner of the Moscow Helsinki Group’s prize for human rights
Statement by Memorial Human Rights Centre
Yesterday, 26 February 2020, an assassination attempt was made in a European country against Tumso Abdurakhmanov, a well-known Chechen blogger and staunch critic of Ramzan Kadyrov’s regime. An unknown person gained entry into Tumso’s apartment. Abdurakhmanov was alone and sleeping. The assassin hit the sleeping man on the head with a hammer that he brought with him. The blow was not fatal: Tumso woke up and fended off the attack. He grabbed the hammer from the attacker, injured him seriously, and then called the police. In the end, both were taken to the hospital, where they are under police supervision.
Before the police arrived, Abdurakhmanov filmed a video: lying in a pool of blood on the floor, the man speaks. His name is Arslan, he is from Moscow, and he was sent by “Abdurakhman from Grozny” to “scare” him. When asked how the attacker learned the address of the blogger who was hiding in Europe, he answers: “They told me.” He adds, “They have my mother.”
This isn’t the first attack on a person whom Ramzan Kadyrov finds undesirable. Assassins sent from Chechnya have been responsible for numerous killings and assassinations committed in Moscow and other regions of Russia; in Turkey and Ukraine; and in countries of Western and Central Europe. This has been confirmed by a court verdict, in addition to detainee confessions, criminal case materials, and media publications. With the connivance of the Kremlin, Ramzan Kadyrov publicly calls for cracking down on critics of the Chechen government by “killing, imprisoning, and doing anything else at all.”
On 26 February, the day of Tumso Abdurakhmanov’s attack, Memorial received a response from the Criminal Investigation Division of the Investigative Committee of Russia for the Chechen Republic: we were refused even a preliminary investigation (!) into a statement by Kadyrov for the offence of public incitement to murder. We sent this statement to the Investigative Committee of Russia, but from there it was forwarded to Chechnya, confirming the obvious: the federal authorities of Russia are covering up crimes committed by the government of the Chechen Republic.
We wrote recently about systematic violence against immigrants from Chechnya who are not loyal to Kadyrov’s regime. In March 2019, Magomed Daudov, an established Kadyrov enthusiast and Chairman of the Chechen Parliament, declared a blood feud against Tumso Abdurakhmanov. We reported that, as a clearly related move, security officials from the Chechen Republic contacted members of the Chechen diaspora and offered them money for information about Abdurakhmanov’s whereabouts. They asked for even just information about the building Abdurakhmanov lived in, saying, “We’ll find the apartment ourselves.” Other people — presumably also Chechen security officials — offered members of the diaspora one-million euros to eliminate Tumso Abdurakhmanov.
And thus there was an attempted assassination — luckily an unsuccessful one. We hope that the authorities in the country where this happened will be able to investigate the crime and establish where the clues leads — although it’s all quite obvious.
Today, 27 February, we would be remiss to not recall that five years ago Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Russian opposition, was cruelly murdered in Moscow by assassins from Chechnya. The investigation did not want to search for the people who organized this crime, and they were afraid to name the person who ordered it.
The Nemtsov March will take place on 29 February in Moscow. There will be events held in many Russian cities and in other countries in connection with this sorrowful date. We will be going to the March, and we urge everyone to attend who wants to stop the chain of political killings in Russia and other countries.
Translated by Nina dePalma