Turkey and Russian death squads

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Turkey has seen a string of assassinations. All those killed have a common thread: they were all from the former Soviet Union. Another thread connecting them also exists: it is believed that Russia has sent killers to assassinate them. Such a notion became solidified when Turkish law enforcement authorities discovered a memory stick and a number of photographs mistakenly left behind by the killers.

Chechen rebels killed

Ruslan Israpilov was one such victim. He had an inkling that the Russians would gun him down. He expressed the same fears to his friends. He told them that he had seen two people doing surveillance on him. Israpilov, a Chechen refugee, had earlier made his home at Ilimtepe, a small Turkish town along with his friends. He thought he and his friends can protect eacyh other. He was wrong. Israpilov was shot beside his flat’s front door. His wife, Petima, discovered his body. There was good reason for Russia to kill him. He was one of the many Chechen freedom fighters who fought to repel Russian armies from their land. Russia ultimately smashed their struggle, and appointed one former rebel, Ramzan Kadyrov, to head Chechenya.

The assassination of Israpilov was not a one off case. Many citizens of the former USSR, like Chechens, Tajiks and Uzbeks, who have opted for a Turkish refuge were killed in one way or the other. To give another example, Abdulwahid Edelgiriev, yet another Chechen, was shot in broad daylight in Istanbul. He, however, was not a retired fighter. He fought for an independent Chechenya until his death. Before he came to Turkey, he was in Syria, fighting for Jabhat al-Nusra, an affiliate for Al-Qaeda. He was also implicated in an assassination attempt on the life of Vladimir Putin, the President of Russia.

Russian security

Analysts regard such activities on foreign soil by Russian operatives as par for the course. According to Professor Mark Galeotti of the Prague based Institute of International Relations, Putin’s administration believes that it must act abroad to bolster its security at home. The Russians have no qualms about killing people at will.

Russia, in its official stance, has denied its involvement when it came to killings made abroad. Dmitri Peskov, the spokesman for President Putin, said that the government will make no comments. He added that such killings have nothing to do with President Putin or Russian state. Turkey on its part has done nothing to prevent such occurrences in the future.

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