Under Putin’s leadership, Russia’s ranking for press freedom has steadily declined over the past decade. Russia has been ranked 180th out of 199 countries in terms of press freedom. Our site has discussed many of the innocent people who have been, and will continue to be, silenced until the EU realizes that stricter laws must be in place to monitor Putin’s henchmen. Timur Kuashev is yet another journalist who was silenced.
Kuashev was a journalist and Kabardino-Balkarian human rights activist who was found dead in August 2014 near his home. He was aligned with the Moscow-based rights organization Memorial and worked for a magazine by the name of Dosh. He also wrote for other publications, including Kavkazsky Lizel and Kavkazskaya Politika. Outside of his career at Dosh, he was also a blogger on the popular site, LiveJournal, in which he used blogging to criticize local law enforcement and regional policies. LiveJournal has launched the careers of many researchers and journalists, including Alexey Navalny’s.
Before he disappeared and was found dead, Kuashev received threats from local law enforcement and was even detained in May 2014 for attending a funeral procession, which was held on the 150th anniversary of the ending of the Caucasian War. The Kavkazsky Uzel, an independent regional website, reported that the police who detained Kuashev threatened him in response to his blog posts, which criticized law enforcement. Kavkazsky Uzel reported that police told Kuashev, “Continue on this path and this will bite you in the ass.” Kuashev disappeared on the evening of 31 July 2014 after he had left his apartment to go on a jog; Kuashev was found on the following evening of 1 August 2014. A trace of an injected substance was found in his blood along with a visual injection marking following the autopsy report days after his death. This differs from previous deaths recorded of journalists, as the others were killed from gunshot wounds. After finding the injected substance, Valery Ustov, the head of the Investigative Management IC Russia for the Kabardino-Balkaria (KBR), said there would be further investigation and described this type of suspected murder for a journalist as “unique” in Russia.
Bellingcat recently provided travel data of FSB operatives from the poison squad of the Criminalistics Institute, as well as confidential documents from an official prosecutorial investigation provided by an insider source. This data strongly suggests that his death was the result of a targeted poisoning operation by the same core FSB team that poisoned Navalny in August 2020.
Based on partial airline data for 2014, Bellingcat points out that the same FSB squad previously identified by Bellingcat in the context of the Navalny poisoning investigation were conducting an ongoing operation in the Nalchik area at least as early as 13 July 2014. On that date Konstantin Kudryavtsev, one of the unit’s chemical weapons specialists, traveled to Nalchik. (Note: Kudryavtsev back in December revealed to Navalny he traveled to Omsk in Siberia to try to clean up evidence after Alexey Navalny was poisoned).
Nine days later, Ivan Osipov, a decorated FSB officer and one of the senior members of the FSB squad implicated in the poisoning of Navalny — flew from Moscow to Mineralnye Vody, north-west of Nalchik. He had originally bought a return ticket for 30 July, but on that day, he changed it for the following morning, 31 July. However, he did not take that flight either, and changed it one more time — to a flight on 1 August 2014 at 2:05 pm. That flight back to Moscow departed several hours after Timur Kuashev’ s body was found outside Nalchik, an hour and a half’s drive away.
Osipov (man to the right in the picture) was not alone in or near Nalchik on the eve of and at the time of Kuashev’s death. In addition to Kudryavtsev, at least three other FSB operatives had arrived in the region in the days prior. A critical second presence was that of Dr. Alexey Alexandro (man to the left in the picture), the other member of the FSB poison squad whose phone records placed him near Navalny’s hotel in the hours before he fell into a coma in Tomsk. Denis Machikin and Roman Matyushin, both Moscow-based FSB officers likely working at the Department for the Protection of the Constitution, flew into Vladikavkaz.
Bellingcat points out that the day after his killing, Kuashev’s friends and colleagues were able to obtain a full extract of call records from his mobile operator for the week beginning 25 July until 2 August. The call records showed zero activity — neither phone, text, nor internet — prior to 2 August 2014, If a cleansing of Kuashev’s call activity had been undertaken by the mobile operator, this could not have reasonably happened without the intervention of the FSB who have overarching control over telecommunication operators. Russian mobile operators are obligated to preserve complete call records and provide them regularly to an FSB-supervised repository.
Finally, following the death of Timur Kuashev, tissue and blood samples were initially tested for toxins locally in Nalchik. However, the local hospitals’ laboratories do not have the capability to perform massspectrograph, the best-practices method to identify toxins and narcotic compounds in blood and urine samples, or other complex analysis. Tissue samples were sent to Moscow for a follow-up analysis.
The main expertise report conducted in Moscow confirmed the absence of any toxic substances in traces of Timur Kuashev’ s blood, which had leaked on to his shirt around the injection area. This served as a key factor in closing the criminal investigation into his death. However, the FSB’s Criminalistics Institute performed the analysis: the same unit that employs the clandestine poison squad, including Dr. Alexandrov, Osipov and Kudryavtsev. Vasiliy Kalashnikov signed the expert report: the same FSB expert who — as admitted by Kudryavtev in his tell-all phone call — was supervising the evidence-purging efforts in Omsk after the poisoning of Navalny. As we have previously determined, the poisoners of Navalny worked under the guise of this exact institute. In the case of Kuashev, this would have allowed the poisoners to investigate, and ultimately cover up their own assassination operation.
Our team will be providing additional people who were silenced by Putin due to the great work by Bellingcat. We ask you share these articles and reach out to your leaders and demand that change needs to be made to make sure Putin and his minions cant travel into our countries and kill people at their choosing.