Chechen leader threatens overseas dissidents: Austrian MP

15th November 2010, Comments 0 comments

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov maintains a group of agents in Austria whose job is to intimidate and silence critics of his pro-Kremlin regime, an Austrian lawmaker alleged on Monday.

Austria's counter-intelligence service "knows about 30 terrorists on Kadyrov's payroll in Austria," said Peter Pilz, a green party lawmaker specialising in security issues, at a news conference.

He was speaking ahead of the opening Tuesday of the trial into the murder of Chechen dissident Umar Israilov, who was gunned down near his Vienna flat on January 13, 2009.

"Their mission is to intimidate members of the opposition, threaten them and in some cases attack, kidnap and murder, like in the case of Israilov," Pilz alleged.

Israilov was a former member of Kadyrov's security forces who had defected and sought asylum in Austria.

Three men will stand trial for his murder but Austrian security services have accused Kadyrov of ordering the attack.

Kadyrov has repeatedly denied any involvement.

The pro-Kremlin strongman has also been accused by human rights groups of using torture and his own personal security forces to crack down on critics in his half-decade in power in the turbulent Caucasus region.

© 2010 AFP

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