RFE/RL – Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (Author)
The wife of a Chechen man accused by Russian authorities of plotting to assassinate President Vladimir Putin has been killed in an ambush near Kyiv.
Adam Osmayev said he and his wife, Amina Okuyeva, were traveling in a car on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital on October 30 when a vehicle began chasing them.
The car was shot at and Okuyeva was hit in the head, Osmayev told the Ukrainian news portal lb.ua after the shooting.
Osmayev, who was injured in the attack, said he believed the attackers meant to kill both of them, and accused Russia of orchestrating the attack.
Interior Ministry adviser Anton Herashchenko earlier said that Okuyeva died and that her husband was injured when their car was hit by a hail of bullets while crossing a railroad track.
The Hromadske TV channel quoted Ukraine’s national police as confirming the attack.
Interior Ministry spokesman Yaroslav Trakalo told Russian news agency Interfax-Ukraine that investigators planned to open a "premeditated murder" inquiry, but not a terror probe, AFP reported.
Osmayev survived an apparent assassination attempt on June 1 in Kyiv when he was shot and wounded while riding in a car. His wife returned fire, wounding the alleged attacker, who she said was posing as a journalist.
Osmayev made headlines when he was detained by Ukrainian authorities in Ukraine's Black Sea port of Odesa in February 2012 and charged with illegal explosives possession, damaging private property, and forgery.
At the request of Russian authorities, he was later charged with plotting to kill Putin.
The European Court of Human Rights recommended that Ukraine not extradite Osmayev to Russia, after which Kyiv decided to suspend the extradition process. In September 2013, a Russian court sentenced the second suspect in the case, Ilya Pyanzin, to 10 years in prison following his extradition by Ukraine to Russia.
Osmayev was released from Ukrainian custody in November 2014, after more than 2 1/2 years in jail in connection with the initial charges.
In February 2015, Osmayev became a commander of the volunteer Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion fighting Russia-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine after the death of its previous commander, Isa Munayev.
In an interview with The Irish Times shortly afterward, Osmayev said he and other Chechens had joined the pro-Kyiv side "to fight for the Chechen cause, which is also the Ukrainian cause and the European cause."
"If Ukraine is strong and free, it can change Russia and bring freedom to Chechnya in some years," he added.
The October 30 shooting is the latest in a wave of assassinations and attempted assassinations that has shaken Ukraine over the past 15 months. Authorities have yet to fully solve any of the at least nine cases that resulted in deaths.
Last week, lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk of the nationalist opposition Radical Party, for whom Okuyeva worked as an adviser, was targeted in a bombing that killed two people and left him wounded in Kyiv.
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