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Swedish Court Hands Lengthy Prison Terms To Attackers Of Chechen Blogger

Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov fled Russia in 2015. (file photo)
Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov fled Russia in 2015. (file photo)

A court in Sweden has sentenced two Russian citizens from Chechnya to lengthy prison terms for their roles in last year's attempted killing of Tumso Abdurakhmanov, an exiled Chechen blogger and outspoken critic of the North Caucasus region's Moscow-backed leader.

Swedish media reports said on January 11 that a court in the city of Gavle sentenced Ruslan Mamayev and Elmira Shapiayeva to 10 and eight years in prison, respectively.

Abdurakhmanov, who fled Russia in 2015, said he survived the February 26 attack by overpowering a suspect armed with a hammer.

Mamayev testified when the trial started on November 2 that he was acting on orders from Chechen officials and had since sought political asylum in Sweden.

He said he secretly planned to be seen to have failed in order to discourage Chechen officials from punishing him.

Mamayev also claimed Chechen authorities promised to pay him 50,000 euros for Abdurakhmanov's assassination.

The attack against Abdurakhmanov was one of several assaults outside of Russia in recent months on critics of Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

In late January last year, the body of Imran Aliyev, another Chechen blogger known for his criticism of Kadyrov, was found dead with stab wounds in a hotel room in the northern French city of Lille.

Austria has arrested two Chechen asylum seekers as part of an investigation into the July 4 killing in the Vienna suburb of Gerasdorf of another Kadyrov critic, Mamikhan Umarov.

In August 2019, Zelimkhan Khangoshvili, a former Chechen separatist fighter who had fled from Georgia to Germany, was shot dead in Berlin. A Russian national suspected in that killing went on trial in Germany in October.

Human rights groups have accused Kadyrov of widespread rights and other abuses in the region, allegations he denies.

Critics say Kadyrov is ultimately responsible for the violence and intimidation of political opponents by Chechen authorities, including kidnappings, forced disappearances, torture, and extrajudicial killings.

Defenders claim Kadyrov has brought relative calm to the volatile region following two wars between Moscow and separatists after the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

With reporting by Aftonbladet