MOSCOW.— Chechen poet, academic and anti-separatist Ruslan Akhtakhanov has been shot dead outside his Moscow apartment.
Russian authorities are considering the murder a contract killing. Investigative Committee spokesman Vladimir Markin said, “The way in which the murder was carried out suggests it had been ordered.”
Akhtakhanov was well-known for his anti-separatist views, believing that Chechnya should remain a part of the Russian Federation.
Less than an hour before his death, Akhtakhanov, attended a ceremony at which he recited poems about brotherhood between Russians and Chechens.
Alledgedly due to his secularist ideas, many extremists and nationalists in the North Caucasus viewed him as an apostate.
In 1998, Akhtakhanov was taken by extremists and was held captive in a pit for nearly 50 days.
“He was a public figure and one of the most active representatives of the Chechen diaspora in Moscow and for this reason could be the target for the nationalists,” said Khamzat Gerikhanov of the Association of Chechen Public and Cultural Organizations.
Police say there were no witnesses to the attack, but they are currently questioning passersby who found Akhtakhanov’s body.