An outspoken blogger who routinely attacked Russia and Chechnya has been found dead in a French hotel with his throat slit and 100 stab wounds — and police suspect a “political motivation,” according to reports.
Chechen blogger Imran Aliev, 44, was found late last month in a hotel bloodbath in Lille that reflected “extreme savagery,” sources told Agence France-Presse. His throat had also been slit, Business Insider said.
Aliev had political refugee status and was living in Belgium under police protection “because of threats out of Russia and Chechnya over his opposition blogging,” a senior French police official told the outlet.
Using the online handle “Mansur Stariy,” he became known mostly for his strident diatribes critiquing Chechen ruler Ramzan Kadyrov as well as Russian President Vladimir Putin, the report says.
“We had him under police protection for a reason,” a Belgian law enforcement official told Business Insider, saying there had been “specific and credible threats on his life from certain political sectors in Chechnya and Russia.”
It was not clear if Aliev had notified his Belgian guards of his plan to cross the border into France.
Aliev had checked into the hotel with a man who was traveling on a Russian passport. Aliev’s butchered body was found only hours after he checked into the hotel Jan. 30 — a knife found next to him.
The murder “bears all the characteristics of having a political motivation,” a source close to the investigation told AFP.
“Many people could have wanted him,” another source told the agency.
The man he was traveling with is likely already safely back in Chechnya, another prominent blogger claimed, according to AFP.
“Obviously, considering Aliev’s history and previous threats, we need to examine the possibility of a state intelligence service in this murder,” the senior police source told Business Insider.
“We are collecting and analyzing evidence from travel patterns, electronic intercepts, and other investigative tools at our disposal,” the French police official said.
The official said France had not yet contacted Russia for any assistance in the case. Lille police have yet to make any arrests, AFP said.