A vocal critic of Vladimir Putin has claimed he survived an assassination attempt after spotting a red dot on a wall while serving his kids dinner.
Vladimir Osechkin, 41, is the exiled founder of anti-torture group gulagu.net, who campaign against abuses in Russian prisons.
He was behind a mega-leak of videos implicating the FSB security service and Russian prison authorities in a “torture conveyor belt”, which involved inmates being brutally raped and mutilated.
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Osechkin said he was in Biarritz, France with his family at the time of the assassination attempt.
A Bellingcat investigator and Russian expert Christo Grozev had both warned Osechkin of a Putin hit squad.
In February, he posted about a €100,000 (£88,000) bounty on his head and claimed that an assassin had been hired to “liquidate” him.
Speaking to Russian journalist Yulia Latynina about the incident, he explained: "We got the information that the person with close connections with organised crime had left Russia toward Biarritz.
"I was asked to evacuate for several days, we went for the weekend to the mountains. I insisted we came back after the weekend.
"My family was in the theatre and I worked with papers in the dark at home.
"When the kids and family were back we had dinner. While I carried the plates, I spotted out of my peripheral vision a red dot on the terrace.
"We were prepared for this. My wife and kids spent around one hour in our most safe room, and we closed the blinds.
"Special services came and the investigation began."
Osechkin did not reveal whether French authorities had detained anyone, saying that the investigation is ongoing.
He did reveal that neighbours "testified that they heard gunshots".
"I wasn’t hit but there were shots," he added. "The scope was moving towards me."
In July, Osechkin exposed the fact that Putin's fearsome Wagner mercenary group were recruiting prisoners as "cannon fodder" for the invasion of Ukraine.
According to one estimate, 28,000 inmates have been recruited.
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Osechkin's "torture conveyer belt" revelations came last year. Among other things, the horrifying videos allegedly showed guards torturing inmates, inmates being forced to torture others and men being violated with a mop handle.
The material – which will now be passed to the United Nations and Council of Europe for investigation – reportedly comes from jails in six Russian regions.
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