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Chechens demonstrate over 'Kremlin-backed' killing of activist in Vienna

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Chechen protesters hold a banner that reads "Stop helping Putin to kill Chechens" outside of the Russian embassy in Vienna on Tuesday
Chechen protesters hold a banner that reads "Stop helping Putin to kill Chechens" outside of the Russian embassy in Vienna on Tuesday   -   Copyright  Ronald Zak/AP
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Activists who hold Kremlin-backed officials responsible for the killing of a Chechen dissident in Vienna last week have staged a protest close to the city's Russian embassy.

Austrian police say the killing of the 43-year-old ethnic Chechen, who had lived in the country for over a decade, could have been a political assassination.

He was named by authorities as "Martin B", but locally he has been referred to as Anzor Umarov.

The demonstrators gathered close to the Russian Embassy in Vienna on Tuesday said it was a sign that opponents of the Chechen regime were being targeted.

"We have relatives in Chechnya — they are not as safe as us," said Hadischat Yussopova, a 22-year-old Chechen living in Austria.

"Having said that, I can't say that we are safe in Europe either because we have seen what happened to Anzor on Saturday evening."

Chechnya, an autonomous republic in the Caucasus region that is part of the Russian Federation, is run by authoritarian leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Umarov, who was killed in the Vienna suburb of Gerasdorf, ran a YouTube channel with commentary critical of Kadyrov.

He also gave evidence in a 2017 murder case in Ukraine, where a volunteer soldier accused of plotting to murder Russian President Vladimir Putin was injured in a shooting and his wife killed.

It was the fourth violent attack on Chechens living inside the European Union in the past year, three of which have been fatal.

Austrian officials said on Monday that Umarov had previously declined an offer of police protection, but did not specify when or why it was offered.

Police said the motive for the killing remains unclear, with political purposes being one possibility.

Two Russian men have been arrested in connection with the incident and neither has spoken to investigators, police added.