A prominent Chechen academic and poet has been shot dead outside his home in Moscow.
The Russian authorities are describing Ruslan Akhtakhanov’s murder as a contract killing.
Gunmen are said to have shot the 58-year-old in the head and leg as he returned home late last night. They fled the scene in a car which was later found burnt out in a Moscow suburb.
Authorities in Chechnya are continuing to fight an insurgency which has spread into neighbouring republics in the Caucasus mountains along Russia’s southern border.
Described as an opponent of Chechen independence, Akhtakhanov was reportedly once held hostage by separatists for nearly seven weeks.
He was a member of the Russian Writers’ Union and wrote several books.