Man arrested in Batumi shooting incident suspected of killing Russian diplomat in Sokhumi

A Russian citizen from Chechnya, Yusuf Lakayev, who was wounded in a shooting incident with police in Georgia’s Black Sea town of Batumi, is suspected of killing a Russian diplomat and his wife in Sokhumi, prosecutor’s office in breakaway Abkhazia and Russia’s Investigative Committee said on September 19.

Dmitry Vishernev, the first secretary of the Russian embassy in breakaway Abkhazia’s capital Sokhumi, was shot dead on September 9. His wife, also an employee of the Russian embassy, was badly wounded; she succumbed to wounds in Sokhumi hospital on September 14. Perpetrator, according to the Abkhaz prosecutor’s office, initially tried to attack Russian diplomats with an improvised explosive device, but had to use unidentified 9mm handgun after the IED failed to detonate. 

Late on September 13 three people were injured in a shooting incident in Batumi. One of those injured in the incident was the Russian citizen Yusuf Lakayev, who, according to the Interior Ministry opened fire after the police approached him and his two Georgian companions to check his identification document. A policeman and a passer-by were also injured. The Georgian Interior Ministry said that Lakayev entered into Georgia “illegally” and was planning to move from Batumi to Turkey “illegally”.

The Georgian Interior Ministry said that Yusuf Lakayev, who is currently treated in the Batumi hospital, is likely the same person who is in the list of individuals, which, the Russian security agencies claim are suspected of having links with “extremism” or “terrorism”.

Prosecutor’s office in breakaway Abkhazia said probe into murder of the Russian diplomat was carried out jointly with Russia’s Investigative Committee. In their separate statements on September 19, the prosecutor’s office in the breakaway region and Russia’s Investigative Committee said that Lakayev has been identified as a perpetrator. 

Russia’s Investigative Committee said that it would request Georgia to extradite Lakayev to Russia. It said that the request would be made via Swiss diplomats, who are acting as mediators between Tbilisi and Moscow after the two countries cut off diplomatic relations following the August 2008 war.

Neither Russia’s Investigative Committee nor Abkhaz prosecutor’s office said anything about possible motives behind the murder of the Russian diplomat.

Russia’s Investigative Committee said that investigation was ongoing for identifying and arresting other persons linked to this crime.

According to Russia’s Investigative Committee Lakayev was released from jail in 2011 after serving his prison term for providing assistance to illegal armed groups in Chechnya.

Mamuka Zoidze, who acts as a defense lawyer for Lakayev in Georgia, has declined to comment on allegations. He also declined to say from where did Lakayev, who was sent to a pre-trial detention by the Batumi City Court, entered into Georgia.

Adapted from Civil Georgia



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