An Anti-Putin blogger has been murdered amid fears a Russian hit squad is running amok in Europe.
Imran Aliev was found with his throat slit in a hotel room in Lille, France, last week.
French police believe that his murder was ‘politically motivated’.
Officers are now hoping to track down the victim’s 35-year-old travelling companion who disappeared shortly after the murder.
The pair had travelled from Mr Aliev’s home in Belgium to northern France via train on January 29 where they booked into the hotel.
The manager went to check on the guests the following day and discovered Mr Aliev’s body.
It is thought that a knife was also found at the scene which has since been sent to a forensic laboratory for analysis.
‘[Aliev] left Belgium Wednesday where he was under police protection because of threats out of Russia and Chechnya over his opposition blogging,’ said a senior French police official.
‘He was accompanied by another Chechen, who we have tentatively identified based on his travel documents.’
He added that France had not yet contacted Russia for assistance in the case.
Mr Aliev was originally from Chechnya, a southeastern Russian region, that has seen two brutal wars for independence in recent decades.
The region has been controlled by Mr Kadyrov since 2007 with approval from Moscow.
The father-of-four often uploaded YouTube videos that were critical of the Chechen government under the pseudonyms of Mansur Stariy or Old Mansur.
His murder is the latest death to spark concerns of a Russian hit squad running amok in Europe.
Fears have become more acute since the attempted assassination of Sergei and Yulia Skripal with a nerve agent in Salisbury, England, in 2018.
Similarly, former Chechen rebel commander Zelimkhan Khangoshvili was shot dead in a crowded park in Berlin.
It prompted German authorities to expel two Russian diplomats despite Moscow denying any role in the murder.