A known opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin claims he survived an assassination attempt earlier this month from individuals with ties to Russian authorities and organized crime.
Exiled Russian human rights activist Vladimir Osechkin said he was working in the dark at his home in the southwestern French coastal town of Biarritz on Sept. 12 when he was targeted, CBS News reported.
“I noticed a moving red dot on the railing of one of the terraces and then moving towards me on the wall,” Osechkin, who was with his wife and children at the time, told AFP by telephone.
“We turned off the light, lay down on the floor, closed the shutters and called the police,” the 41-year-old said.
Police and neighbors heard shots being fired, according to Osechkin, the operator of the Gulagu.net NGO that tracks corruption and prison abuses in Russia.
In a Monday interview with journalist Yulia Latynina, Osechkin identified the supposed would-be assassin as “a man with close ties” to Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) and “organized crime.”
He declined to reveal whether the alleged shooter was detained.
Osechkin attributed the alleged assassination attempt to the FSB’s retribution for his work on collecting evidence of prisoner abuse and the widely publicized recruitment of inmates for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, The Moscow Times reported.
Osechkin allegedly received information days ago that a “Russian criminal world boss” had arrived in France on a mission to kill people in the Biarritz area.
He credited Bulgarian investigative journalist Christo Grozev for tipping him off on the alleged assassin’s movements.
Grozev is the lead Russian investigator for Bellingcat, a Netherlands-based investigative journalism group that publishes detailed reports on Russian agents using open-source intelligence.
French authorities are now investigating threats against Osechkin following the supposed assassination attempt, a source close to the probe told AFP Tuesday.
The probe was only into threats and not into attempted murder, said the source, who asked not to be named and declined to say if shots had been fired during the incident.
Osechkin was put under police protection after he was informed of an assassination plot against him in February, he said.
Russian officials have not commented on Osechkin’s allegations, according to The Moscow Times.