Turkey exchanged suspected Russian assassins for Tatar politicians - newspaper

Two Russian citizens detained on suspicion of carrying out the extrajudicial killing of seven Chechen militants in Turkey were released as the result of a prisoner swap with Russia, Turkish newspaper HaberTürk said.

“Russian agents” Aleksandr Smirnov and Lurii Anisimov were released from Turkish detention and flown back to Russia on Sept. 24 in accordance with an August state of emergency order allowing imprisoned foreign nationals to be exchanged or released for foreign policy purposes.

The next day, jailed Tatar politicians Ilmi Umerov and Ahtem Chiygoz were released by Russia, shortly afterwards coming to Ankara to thank Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in person, the newspaper said.

Erdoğan had been outspoken in favour of the cause of the Crimean Tatars, and the article quoted him as having said that he was “involved in every type of initiative and effort for our Crimean Tatar friends in jail.”

Smirnov and Anisimov
Smirnov and Anisimov

Smirnov and Anisimov had faced charges over the killing of seven Chechens in Turkey between 2000-2015, including senior Chechen militant Vahid Edelgiriev.

The rumours that they had been released as part of a prisoner swap first emerged last week.