A suspect in the Chechen murders that took place in İstanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on Friday and resulted in the deaths of three former Chechen fighters escaped from a hotel in İstanbul’s Sultanahmet district immediately prior to the arrival of a special police team on Monday.
Berg Khazh Musavei, Rustam Altemirol and Zarvbek Amriev were killed in front of their homes in İstanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on Friday when 11 bullets were fired from a pistol fitted with a silencer. Police launched a broad investigation to find the suspect; clues led them to investigate a hotel wherein the suspect was presumed to stay.
Police were tipped that the alleged killer entered Turkey five days ago with a passport under the name of Garkov Alexander. Following his escape, special police units conducted a search of the room in which suspect Garkov had been staying and catalogued his personal belongings, including a pair of binoculars, a 9mm gun with ammunition and a night-vision camera. A ballistics report determined that the gun had been used in the murder of three Chechens in İstanbul’s Zeytinburnu district on Friday. Police additionally noted that the car used in the murders was rented from a company that works with the hotel in which Garkov stayed.
According to officials, the passport found in Garkov’s hotel room suggests that the Russian suspect was in İstanbul in 2009 when Chechen commander Ali Osaev was also killed in Zeytinburnu. There are now questions as to whether the murder in 2009 and those on Friday could have been perpetrated by the same individual. Osaev, who moved to Turkey with his family after participating in the Chechen-Russian war, was killed in front of his house in the Gökalp neighborhood. Police are now investigating the possible link to Garkov, having noted further that he fled the country immediately after Osaev’s death.
Berg Khazh Musavei, who was known as the “Hamzat Commander,” took over this position as leader of the Chechen community from Osaev following his death. Musavei was tasked with collecting aid for Chechen families, handling problems faced by former Chechen fighters and providing them with hideouts and shelter from Russian secret service agents.
The murders on Friday were followed by severe criticism from Chechens of the Turkish state for its inability to protect the Chechen community.