Putin Critic Survived The First Attempt On Her Life, But Wasn’t As Lucky This Time

Will Racke | Immigration and Foreign Policy Reporter

A husband and wife team known in Eastern Europe as two of the most prominent critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin survived an assassination attempt in June, but they weren’t as fortunate Monday.

Adam Osmayev was shot in the leg when an unknown gunman sprayed his car with a hail of gunfire near Kiev. His wife, Amina Okuyeva, was fatally wounded when two of those rounds struck her in the head.

Prior to the attack, the couple had already achieved hero status in Ukraine for their opposition to the Putin regime. The ethnic Chechens volunteered to fight in eastern Ukraine against Russian-backed separatists, drawing the ire of Putin and his favorite local strongman, Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Osmayev and Okuyeva were returning to their house outside Kiev when assailants opened fire with an AK-47 style rifle, reports the Guardian, citing Ukrainian Interior Ministry officials. It was the latest in a series of assassinations and attempted political killings in Ukraine, which Ukrainian officials have pinned on Russian-backed forces.

“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,” Osmayev told Ukrainian TV from his hospital bed, according to the Guardian. “I tried to give her first aid, but she was shot in the head.”

Monday’s attack was the second time the couple had been targeted for assassination and was seen in Kiev as especially tragic, given Okuyeva’s prominence as a fearless antagonist of the Putin government. She returned fire on an assassin posing as a French journalist in June, saving her own life as well as her husband’s.

Osmayev and Okuyeva joined a pro-Ukraine militia consisting mainly of Chechens when the conflict with Russian separatists broke out in 2014. At the time, Osmayev was already a longtime foe of the Russian government, which had accused him of of plotting to assassinate Putin. He was arrested in Odessa, Ukraine in 2012, but released two years later when the pro-Russian regime of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych was overthrown in the Maidan revolution.

Like her husband, Okuyeva was a fierce opponent of Putin and Kadyrov, the Kremlin-backed Chechen leader. Many of Kadyrov’s opponents have been killed in Russia and Ukraine.

“Russia, continuing its aggression in eastern Ukraine, has unleashed terror deep behind the lines, killing courageous defenders of our country,” Ukraine’s National Security Council head Oleksandr Turchynov wrote on Facebook, according to the BBC.

The killing “is a challenge to our country which requires a harsh and suitable response,” Turchynov added.

No suspects have been identified and no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.

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