An internet blogger who publicly opposed Russian President Vladimir Putin was recently found dead in a French hotel room with his throat slit and multiple stab wounds, Business Insider reports.
Police suspect the murder was "politically motivated," as this is just the latest in a series of attacks sparking concerns that a Russian hit squad is actively assassinating dissidents in Europe.
What are the details?
Imran Aliev, 44, had been living in Belgium, where he was under police protection due to threats on his life coming out of Chechnya and Russia. Aliev had been critical of the Putin and the Russia-supported Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov on his blog and YouTube channel for years, operating under the pseudonyms Mansur Stariy or Old Mansur.
But on Jan. 29, he told his wife and four children that he was heading to France "on business" after an unknown man showed up from Chechnya, according to Fox News.
Only a day later, French investigators found Aliev's body in a hotel room in Lille, France, riddled with stab wounds. Sources told the Agence France-Presse that the attack was the result of "extreme savagery."
Now, investigators are looking for Aliev's travel companion, who has mysteriously vanished.
"He was accompanied by another Chechen, who we have tentatively identified based on his travel documents," the official said, according to Business Insider.
"This identification could be a case of mistaken identity or even an illegal alibi," he added, saying nothing could be determined "until we have spoken with this man we believe is an important witness."
The French have allegedly not contacted Russia for assistance with the case yet due to the possibility of state involvement in the murder.
"Obviously, considering Aliev's history and previous threats, we need to strongly examine the possibility of a state intelligence service in this murder, and we are collecting and analyzing evidence from travel patterns, electronic intercepts, and other investigative tools at our disposal," a French police official said.
According to the Business Insider report, a Belgian law enforcement officer also expressed concerns and suggested that Belgian authorities are very suspicious about the incident.
"We had him under police protection for a reason," said the official, adding that there were "specific and credible threats on his life from certain political sectors in Chechnya and Russia."