Russian intelligence agency accused of poisoning Chechens in Istanbul
Eyüp Serbest ISTANBUL
Saduev died in the intensive care unit on March 2. CİHAN Photo
A Chechen activist has died in Istanbul after being hospitalized with his family members for food poisoning, as some of his relatives and Turkish activists accuse the Russian intelligence agency of poisoning wild garlic sent to him from Chechnya.
The 47-year-old Kaim Saduev, who had settled in Istanbul’s Başakşehir neighborhood after fleeing his war-torn homeland 11 years ago, received a package from his sister in Chechnya on Feb. 23. The Saduev family ate their dinner the same day, in which they used wild garlic included in the package as an ingredient. Falling ill, they were all hospitalized for food poisoning at a hospital in the Bakırköy neighborhood.
Though his wife and one of his hospitalized children survived the incident, Saduev died in the intensive care unit on March 2.
During the funeral ceremony at Istanbul’s Fatih Mosque on March 3, several of Saduev’s relatives claimed “the Russian intelligence poisoned him like former KGB agent Alexendar Litvinenko and Arab fighters in Chechnya.”
“We all ate the food. I was not harmed, but my father died. They poisoned the honk (the wild garlic species),” 19-year-old Cabir Saduev said.
The deceased man’s father Alvi Saduev said he lost his fifth son and “feels lonely.”
“Four of my sons had been martyred by the Russians in the past [while fighting in Chechnya],” he added.
The head of the Humanitarian Relief Foundation (İHH), a conservative NGO in Turkey, said during the funeral that he also thought the Russian intelligence agency was behind Saduev’s death. “I’m addressing my Chechen brothers: Be very careful, no one among you is safe. Be careful of what you eat and where you go,” İHH head Bülent Yıldırım said, claiming Moscow prepared “a new assassination list” to target Chechen dissidents in Turkey.
With his four brothers, Saduev had once fought alongside Shamil Basayev, a Chechen militant leader who was killed in Ingushetia in 2006.
A Turkish prosecutor had said in an indictment last year that five Chechens who were killed in Istanbul between 2009 and 2011 were done so in the name of Russia’s intelligence agency.
On May 22, 2013, the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria’s honorary consul in Turkey, Medet Ünlü, was killed by armed assailants in Ankara. The Turkish man who is suspected of killing Ünlü had been detained and confessed to the murder, claiming “pro-Russian Chechens” had made him shoot the victim.
Separately, an Uzbek dissident who was living in Turkey for around 12 years was assassinated in Istanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on Dec. 11, 2014, with a Chechen-origin Russian national being detained as the sole suspect.