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MI6 have uncovered a plot by a Russian hitman to assassinate a Chechen warlord at a London hotel.
They have told "enemy of Moscow" Akhmed Zakayev he faced execution - like his friend Alexander Litvinenko, killed in the UK with radioactive poison.
Zakayev, 53, was due to meet Russian "journalists" in the next few days. But intercepted phone calls and information from Russia revealed the dissident, a friend of actress Vanessa Redgrave, was a target for the FSB security service - successor to the KGB. The planned execution was to be a bullet to the back of the head when the group met. A security source said: "There is a real concern that the men coming across were to carry out a hit on Mr Zakayev."
Zakayev, leader of the unrecognised Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, and accused of terrorism in Russia, is number two on the Kremlin's most-wanted list. He was also friends with journalist Anna Politkovskaya, allegedly murdered by the FSB in Russia.
In a recent interview he said: "I remember holding a press conference with my dear friends Alexander Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya. Now they are murdered and I am the only one left."
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