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A Russian man allegedly smuggled a hitman into Germany to target a Chechen dissident living in the EU country.
German prosecutors are investigating a man who allegedly procured a gun and brought a hitman into the country to kill a dissident from the Russian republic of Chechnya.
They identified the suspect, who is being held in pre-trial detention, as Russian citizen Valid D, German media reported on Friday.
He is accused of "making a declaration of readiness to commit murder, preparing a serious act of violence endangering the state and violating the weapons act."
Authorities said the German Federal Prosecutor's Office assumes that the order for the murder "came from the environment of the regime of the Chechen republic."
Valid D. was arrested in January in the northern city of Schwerin. Ahead of the planned killing, which was to take place near Munich, the suspects carried out shooting exercises in northern Germany.
According to German public broadcaster MDR and the news magazine Spiegel, which first reported on the investigations, the murder plans targeted Chechen dissident Mokhmad Abdurakhmanov.
Valid D. was allegedly told to bring both the murder weapon and the contract killer to Germany. He was also reportedly ordered to spy on the intended victim and act as a driver during the assassination.
Prosecutors said he has successfully smuggled the intended hitman into Germany and managed to obtain a firearm with a silencer.
The apparent assassin had accepted the order but then, according to reports, turned himself in to the authorities.
The man is believed to have been approached in prison by an agent of the Chechen government, who offered him €500,000 (almost $600,000) for the hit..
He claimed to have only accepted the contract as a pretense, and authorities reportedly believe him.
The purported target of the attack is the brother of exiled Chechen blogger Tumso Abdurakhmanov, who lives in Sweden.
Tumso Abdurakhmanov's YouTube channel, which has about 318,000 subscribers, is critical of Chechen strongman ruler Ramzan Kadyrov.
In February last year, Tumso was struck in the head with a hammer while he was sleeping in his apartment. He overpowered the assailant, a Russian citizen who a Swedish court in January convicted of attempted murder.
Kadyrov — a former Chechen separatist who became an staunch Kremlin loyalist — is one of Russia's most powerful men. He is accused of building his own fiefdom in Chechnya built on widespread human rights abuses.
The alleged plot prompted comparisons with a similar case last year. Another Russian went on trial in Germany in October, charged with the murder of Zelimkhan Khangoshvili. The 40-year-old fought in Chechnya against Russia in the Second Chechen War and was killed in a Berlin park, allegedly on Moscow's orders.
rc/dj (AFP, dpa)