MI5 tries to expel Russian over fears of assassination attempts in Britain


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The Independent Online

Fears that the UK has become a battleground for deadly Russian vendettas have been reignited after the security services publicly warned of an assassination plot against a high-profile Chechen exile.

Akhmed Zakayev, a dissident Chechen politician and a friend of the actress Vanessa Redgrave, is on a list of targets supposedly wanted dead by his political rival, the Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov, according to court documents.

MI5 and the Home Secretary are involved in a legal battle to expel a Russian, known only as E1, who they believe would "facilitate" the murder of Mr Zakayev. MI5 is alleged not to have told the exiled Chechen prime minister that he was the target of an assassination plot.

The revelations come in the wake of the attempted assassination of a wealthy Russian banker, German Gorbuntsov. MPs warned last night that Britain was becoming a Russian battleground amid growing concerns about the number of exiles who pose a serious security risk to the UK.

Mr Zakayev, a former actor who went on to command rebels in the war with Russia, was granted refugee status in Britain in 2003. Russian demands that he be extradited to face terrorism charges were rejected.

In court documents reported by The Sunday Telegraph, the judges said: "Kadyrov, who had been responsible for the assassination of a number of his opponents, has a black list of individuals, some of whom he wished to have assassinated, and ... the exiled Prime Minister of Chechnya, Akhmed Zakayev, a refugee living in the UK, was believed to be on this list."

MI5 said an attack on Mr Zakayev "would be likely to be facilitated through [E1] who would be well placed to provide valuable information". MI5 said E1 was involved in the killing of Umar Israilov, a former Kadyrov bodyguard who was shot dead in Vienna in 2009.