A Russian citizen went on trial in Munich on Wednesday on charges of agreeing to carry out the contract killing of a Chechen dissident on behalf of people linked to Ramzan Kadyrov, strongman ruler of Russia's autonomous region of Chechnya.
Prosecutors believed the thwarted killing was meant to frighten into silence the 27-year-old intended victim's elder brother, another activist for Chechen independence who lives in exile in Stockholm.
"In the first half of 2020, a member of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov's security apparatus contracted the accused Valid D. to organize the killing of an exiled oppositionist in Germany," prosecutors wrote.
"The accused agreed," they added. "He obtained a gun with ammunition and a silencer. Then he obtained the intended victim's address and spent summer 2020 scoping out the area where he lived."
Valid D., whose full name is withheld from publication under German privacy law, denies the prosecutors' allegations, his defense attorney was cited by Der Spiegel magazine as saying.
"He obtained a gun with ammunition and a silencer. Then he obtained the intended victim's address and spent summer 2020 scoping out the area where he lived."German prosecutors
Earlier this year, German media reported that the intended victim was Mokhmad Abdurakhmanov, whose brother Tumso was himself the target of a murder attempt in February 2020.
Mokhmad is himself an outspoken critic of Kadyrov.
"No honorable Chechen would enter Ukrainian territory with a weapon in hand to fight for the interests of the Russian Federation and its President Vladimir Putin," he said in a recent YouTube video, according to public broadcaster BR.
"No honorable Chechen would enter Ukrainian territory with a weapon in hand to fight for the interests of the Russian Federation and its President Vladimir Putin."Mokhmad Abdurakhmanov
The trial, set to run until December, casts a renewed spotlight on the activities of Russian agents in Germany and Europe more broadly, including those of contract killers from Chechnya, a lawless fiefdom where Kadyrov has been given a free hand by Moscow.
Last year, a Russian was convicted of the 2019 murder of Chechen-born Georgian citizen Zelimkhan Khangoshvili in broad daylight in a central Berlin park. Russian citizen Vadim Krasikov was sent to prison for life for the killing.