A Turkish court has ruled for the arrest of six suspects, including four Russians, accused of espionage after they were detained on suspicion of preparing armed attacks on Chechen dissidents in Turkey, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.
The suspects were first detained on Oct. 8 as part of an operation conducted by the İstanbul Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office that was centered in İstanbul and the southern resort city of Antalya. They were identified as four Russian citizens and two Ukrainians. The suspects face charges of espionage, which require a prison sentence of between 15 and 20 years if convicted, according to Article 325 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
“It is alleged that the suspects were preparing armed actions targeting Chechen dissidents in Turkey and that they were engaged in obtaining guns and planning these acts,” Anadolu said.
Since Russia’s first 1994-96 Chechen war, İstanbul has been home to several thousand Chechens, some of them initially in refugee camps. As well as civilians, the city has become a base for Chechen fighters and their families and a place where injured fighters go for medical treatment.
Many suspect that Russia’s FSB intelligence agency is behind a string of assassinations in Turkey of Chechen rebels. One of them was Abdulvakhid Edelgireyev, who survived for years hiding in the Chechen mountains, only to be shot dead in Istanbul in 2015 in broad daylight.
No effective investigation has been carried out in Turkey into the Chechen murders so far.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has close relations with Russian President Vladimir Putin. He dared to attract the anger of his country’s allies in NATO, mainly the US, by purchasing the Russian S-400 missile defense system in 2017.