Chechen dissident claims he 'staged own death' to avoid assassination

Tumso Abdurakhmanov spent time in Poland.
Tumso Abdurakhmanov spent time in Poland. Copyright Francesca Ebel/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
Copyright Francesca Ebel/Copyright 2018 The AP. All rights reserved.
By Joshua Askew
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The opposition blogger alleged he planned and orchestrated reports of his own murder last year to evade getting bumped off by hitmen..


A Chechen dissident has alleged he "staged his own death" last year to avoid assassination. 

In a recent YouTube video, opposition blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov claimed he planned and spread reports of his murder in December, after being told the leader of Chechnya wanted him dead.  

Headed by the notorious strongman Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya is a restive Russian republic that was forced to remain under Moscow's control, following a series of vicious separatist wars.

Its primarily Muslim population is subjected to harsh human rights abuses at the hands of Kadyrov's security forces. 

Abdurakhmanov, a prominent critic of Kadyrov and his Moscow-backed government, was reportedly gunned down last year in Sweden, where he had been living in exile as a political asylum seeker. 

Speaking about this event, the 37-year-old said: "‘Kadyrov allocated a large amount of money, and some Ingush people [Sunni Muslims from the Caucasus region] accepted this order, they pledged to kill me, and they contacted this person with a request for assistance."

"And this person suggested that I get them all, trick them, by making a staged video of my murder."

Abdurakhmanov claimed he and an acquaintance filmed a video in which was seemingly shot and killed, after learning strongman Kadyrov had apparently specified this is how he should die. 

Despite being sceptical at first, the dissent said his choice was either to "sit and wait for someone to come" or attempt a cunning trick.  

The Chechen opposition Telegram channel 1ADAT, a widely known source of news about Chechnya, was then allegedly paid $50,000 (€45,600) to falsely report his death, though its moderator denied receiving money on Sunday. 

The faked footage was initially sent only to the group who had agreed to kill him, yet they apparently asked for more evidence. 

Not everyone was convinced, with then Deputy Prime Minister of the government in exile Akhmad Zakayev announcing the blogger was still alive a few days after reports first surfaced. 

The men tasked with his killing were later detained by Chechen authorities, who reportedly doubted they had carried out the job, prompting Abdurakhmanov to release another video of him pretending to be in a coma. 

In January, he posted a video announcing that he was alive and would carry on opposing the Chechen government. 

A vocal advocate for Chechen independence, Abdurakhmanov has been targetted by assaults and assassination attempts several times, both at home and abroad. 

Speaking to the country's public broadcaster SVT, he has heaped praise on the Swedish authorities, who at one point gave him "24/7 protection". 

Sweden granted the popular YouTuber asylum in October 2021. 

Abdurakhmanov survived an assassination attempt in February 2020, which put both him and his attacker in hospital. 


In 2019, he called Kadyrov a traitor of the Chechen people. This prompted Chairman of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic Magomed Daudov to threaten him with death. 

"Make sure the safety chain is hooked up. [...] We won't let you say whatever you want," he warned.

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