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Chechen Leader Kadyrov Denies Plot To Kill Georgian Journalist

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (file photo)
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (file photo)

The Moscow-backed leader of Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied accusations that he was behind an alleged plot to kill a Georgian journalist.

"Believe me, if someone is acting on my orders, he will carry them out, and if a mission is to be accomplished quietly, nobody...would learn about it," Kadyrov wrote on his Telegram channel late on June 16.

The previous day, Georgia's Service for State Security said it had detained a Russian citizen, identified as V.B., on charges of using forged documents.

It said the arrest came as part of an investigation into "preparation of murder by contract."

Nika Gvamaria, director of the television station Mtavari Arkhi, identified the suspect as 38-year-old Vasambek Bokov, a native of Russia's North Caucasus region of Ingushetia.

He alleged that Bokov was sent to kill Giorgi Gabunia, a journalist with Mtavari Arkhi, on Kadyrov's orders.

The story dates back to July last year, when Gabunia crudely insulted Russian President Vladimir Putin live on air amid worsening ties between Georgia and Russia.

Kadyrov publicly vowed to "punish" Gabunia at the time.

In his Telegram post on June 16, the Chechen leader said that the journalist should "go down on his knees and ask for forgiveness.... Otherwise, he will, I repeat, remain my enemy."

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called the allegations against Kadyrov "absurd."

Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili and Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia have reacted to the alleged plot, without pointing the finger at Kadyrov.

Zurabishvili said on June 16 that Georgia was "dealing with a criminal and provocative action targeted against the country’s stability."

Gakharia said that the investigation was still under way, adding, "We should have sufficient patience, wait, and make all types of assessment afterward."

Rights groups say Kadyrov, who has ruled Chechnya since 2007, uses repressive measures and has created a climate of impunity for security forces in the volatile region.

In recent years, several Kadyrov critics were killed outside Russia, and many believe that either Kadyrov himself or Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) were behind the apparent assassinations.

With reporting by the BBC, AFP, and​

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