The man suspected of killing an anti-Putin blogger in France fled to Moscow afterwards, and is linked to one of Putin's closest allies, police say
Police in France believe they have identified the man who killed anti-Putin blogger Imran Aliev in France last month. A source told Insider that the man — whom authorities refuse to name — travelled to Germany, then flew to Moscow. Investigators think Aliev's death is linked to Ramzan Kadyrov, the ruler of Chechnya, a semi-autonomous part of Russia. Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.
French police investigating the murder of a Chechen dissident blogger in a hotel room in Lille have identified a man who traveled with the victim from Belgium as the primary suspect. According to an official who spoke to Insider, the suspect fled France shortly after the attack and went to Russia. The detail further suggests that the attack is the work of a hitman linked to Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of Russia's semi-autonomous Chechnya region. Officials have thus far refused to release the identity of the suspect in the January 30 killing of Imran Aliev, who was found stabbed to death in a hotel room close to the main train station in Lille. He had arrived by train from Belgium the previous day. Aliev, 44, was a high-profile opponent of Kadyrov, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
He had been living under police protection in Belgium after receiving asylum five years ago because of death threats linked to his activism. Police say that Aliev was accompanied by the suspect on the train to France from Belgium. It is not clear how the two knew one another. French authorities have identified the suspect based on his travel records. They have not made his identity public, but say he left Lille by train for Germany, where he then flew to Russia. "We are confident that we have identified the proper suspect and have established that he flew to Russia from Germany immediately after the murder," according to a French police official briefed on the case who spoke to Insider. The official, whose identity Insider verified, spoke anonymously because he was not authorized to speak to the media. "We have also collected intelligence about the man that indicates he works closely with Kadyrov, which continues to confirm our suspicion that this was a politically motivated murder linked to Aliev's dissident activities," the official said. Minkail Malizaev, another Chechen blogger based in Berlin — where a Russian with links to Putin's intelligence services killed another Chechen refugee in August — told the French media that he had also been invited on the trip. He said the trip was supposed to have concluded with a meeting in Paris, not a hotel room stabbing in Lille. Malizaev told French reporters that the meeting was to include himself, Aliev, and the unidentified suspect. He too said the man is a Chechen with close links to Kadyrov. Malizaev decided not to go to the Paris meeting because something about it felt "abnormal." The apparent link between the suspect and Kadyrov suggests the murder plot developed from Chechnya itself, where Kadyrov is considered a near-absolute ruler who answers only to Putin. While Russia has come under repeated criticism for a series of deaths in Europe, Kadyrov loyalists are also suspected in a series of murders and attacks both within Russia and overseas. Many analysts believe Kadyrov has enough autonomy from Moscow to pursue political dissidents without Putin's specific permission.Join the conversation about this story » NOW WATCH: A podiatrist explains heel spurs, the medical condition Trump said earned him a medical deferment from Vietnam
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