Agence France-Presse

Chechen poet, Ruslan Akhtakhanov, gunned down in Moscow

Ruslan Akhtakhanov, a prominent poet from Chechnya, was shot dead in Moscow, in what police believe to be a “contract killing,” the BBC reported.

Akhtakhanov, 58, was not only known as a writer, but as an outspoken opponent of the Chechen separatist movement and believed Chechnya should remain a part of Russia. He was shot several times by an unidentified gunman in front of his home in Moscow on Tuesday night, the BBC reported.

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"An unknown person shot at Akhtakhanov twice: first in the leg and then in the head," the Investigations Committee of Russia said in a statement, the BBC reported. Akhtakhanov was shot at about midnight and his killer escaped in a car which was later found several blocks away, the BBC reported.

On Wednesday, an official spokesperson for the Investigations Committee, Vladimir Markin, said in a state they believed Akhtakhanov was killed by a contract killer. "Investigators consider all possible motives of the crime. But the way it was committed, i.e. the confirming shot that a criminal made after injuring the victim drives us to a conclusion that this was a contract killing," said Markin, RAPSI reported.

Akhtakhanov was a professor at the Modern Humanitarian Academy in Moscow and a member of the Russian Union of Writers, RAPSI reported. In 2009 he received a journalism prize for his book of poetry, “"I am proud of Chechnya, which gave heroes to the world.”

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