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Gulagu.net founder Vladimir Osechkin says he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt in France
Vladimir Osechkin, the founder of the Russian human rights project Gulagu.net, was the target of an attempted assassination in the French city of Biarritz, he told journalist Yulia Latynina in an livestreamed interview on Monday. According to Osechkin, Bellingcat investigator Christo Grozev had previously warned him of a possible murder attempt, but he only managed to evade the attack because he happened to notice the red dot from the sight of the assassin’s gun on the wall next to him.
I had received a message from Christo and his source, and that helped me and the people working to ensure my security avert my murder. A person with close ties to the FSB and organized crime left Russia for Biarritz. [My security team] talked me into evacuating the city literally for two days, though I didn’t want to — I wanted to catch them here. But we went to the mountains for the weekend. I insisted we return after the weekend. That was a week ago. Then one evening, my family was at the theater, and I was working in the dark; nobody thought I was home alone. I was working in the dark with documents and my Macbook’s screen dimmed; that’s how I like to work. When my kids and my wife came home, we cooked dinner, and I remember: I’m carrying my kids’ plates to the table, and in my peripheral vision, on one of the terraces, I see a red dot moving towards me through the terrace railing.
Then, Osechkin said, he and his family immediately turned out the lights and got on the floor — a procedure they’d practiced beforehand.
Since we’d received special training, we’d been drilled and coached — so that we wouldn’t just linger and wait around while they riddled us with bullets. We immediately turned off the lights, the children got on the floor, and then my wife and kids spent about an hour in one of the secure rooms. We immediately lowered the blinds, and the appropriate authorities came. An investigation was launched. The neighbors have already testified that they heard gunshots. I wasn’t hit, but there were shots — the scope was moving towards me. What “helped me survive,” evidently, were the killer’s mistakes.
Osechkin didn’t tell Latynina whether the hitman was caught, citing the ongoing nature of the investigation.
Vladimir Osechkin founded the human rights group Gulagu.net, which specializes in defending the rights of Russian inmates and collecting data on the unlawful actions of Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN) officials.
In October 2021, Osechkin reported that he had obtained over 40 gigabytes of video, text, and photo evidence of widespread torture use in Russian prisons. The videos’ publication sparked an uproar and caused a number of prison officials to lose their jobs.
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