- A Ukrainian veteran sniper was shot dead, and her husband, who allegedly tried to kill Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2012, was wounded near Kyiv.
- The Chechen couple had both fought against Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas and were considered heroes in Ukraine.
- The incident is the latest of more than a dozen assassinations or attempted assassinations in Ukraine since 2014.
A Ukrainian veteran sniper was killed, and her husband, who allegedly tried to assassinate Russian President Vladimir Putin, was wounded in a shooting on Monday near Kyiv.
Amina Okuyeva and Adam Osmayev were riding in a car past a railroad crossing in the village of Hlevakha when their vehicle came under heavy fire from someone in the bushes on the side of the road.
“She was shot in the head. I drove as much as I could until the car stopped, I don’t know, the engine was also hit. I tried to give her first aid, but she was shot in the head,” Osmayev told Lb.ua, a Ukrainian media outlet.
Osmayev, who was also shot in the leg, has since blamed Russia for the attack and said that it was connected to a car-bombing last week that wounded Ukrainian lawmaker Ihor Mosiychuk, who routinely insulted Russian politicians and once posted a video on YouTube threatening to kill Kadyrov.
Okuyeva had once worked for Mosiychuk as an adviser, according to Reuters.
This wasn’t the first assassination attempt the couple had faced. On June 1, Osmayev and Okuyeva were in a car with a man, Artur Denisultanov-Kurmakayev, masquerading as a French journalist named Alex Werner.
At one point, Denisultanov-Kurmakayev asked them to pull the car over so that he could give them a gift from his editors.
“When he opened it I spotted a Glock pistol,” Okuyeva told RFERL after the June attack. “He immediately grabbed it and started shooting at Adam.”
Okuyeva then pulled out her own gun and shot the would-be assassin four times before, as she told RFERL, “I pounced on him with my bare hands and he gave up the gun.”
Osmayev was shot in the chest but survived that attack as well, and Ukraine has since blamed Russia for orchestrating the hit.
In 2012, Osmayev was accused by Moscow of plotting to kill Putin. He was arrested in Kyiv in February 2012 for possession of illegal explosives and was even charged with the plot by Ukrainian authorities at the behest of Russia.
But Kyiv refused to extradite Osmayev, and the charges were eventually dropped. He was released from custody in November 2014 — just months after former Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich had fled to Russia and fighting started in the Donbas, in eastern Ukraine.
Moscow also accused Osmayev of trying to kill Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin’s hand-picked leader of Chechnya, in 2007.
Kadyrov has been implicated in a number of other assassinations, including the high-profile killing of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition leader who was shot dead near the Kremlin in 2015, and, most recently, the early-September car-bombing that killed Timur Mahauri, a Georgian citizen who fought with a volunteer Ukrainian battalion in the Donbas. Mahauri was reportedly a personal enemy of Kadyrov.
Okuyeva and Osmayev — both Muslims and ethnic Chechens — have been celebrated in Ukraine as heroes, having served in Chechen volunteer battalions fighting against Russian-backed separatist in the Donbas.
Okuyeva, who reportedly wore her hijab in battle and fought for equality among men and women in the military, was a paramedic and sniper. Osmayev became commander of the volunteer Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion in 2015.
“I declare a war on the Russian Empire,” Okuyeva told Politico in 2014. “If Russian forces continue to fight in Ukraine, thousands of Chechen immigrants living in Europe, who had been ousted of their land during the two Chechen wars, will come to Ukraine to fight a war to defend this country,”
There have been at least 13 other assassinations, and many more attempts, in Ukraine since 2014, including a Ukrainian colonel reportedly investigating Russia for an international court case who was killed in a car-bombing in Kyiv in late June.
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