Five people have been arrested in the Nemtsov murder case. One of them has admitted involvement in the crime.
Candles and pictures commemorate the slain opposition figure in Moscow. Picture: ap
Russian investigators have apparently made some progress in solving the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov. Already on Saturday, the head of Russia’s domestic intelligence service, Alexander Bortnikov, announced that two men suspected of "committing this crime" had been arrested.
Boris Nemtsov had been struck down in the back by four shots in the open street just below the Kremlin wall nine days ago. The suspects are from Chechnya. Saur Dadayev is considered the main perpetrator. According to Russian media, he has already confessed to the crime at the arrest hearing on Sunday. Ansor Gubashev is named as a possible accomplice.
On Sunday, two more suspects were taken into custody in Ingushetia, Chechnya’s neighboring republic. They, too, are allegedly from Chechnya. A fifth suspect reportedly blew himself up with a grenade during the arrest in Grozny. There has been no official confirmation so far.
The fact that Saur Dadayev holds the post of deputy commander in the "Sever" (North) battalion in Chechnya raises eyebrows. "Sever" is among the elite units of the Russian Ministry of Interior and performs the function of a rapid reaction force.
The creation of this unit and its integration into a Russian brigade was a particular concern of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov in 2006. Since Kremlin leader Vladimir Putin elevated him to the position of governor in Grozny, the Chechen president has been at pains to recommend himself as the Kremlin’s most devoted servant. The battalion is stationed in Grozny.
On the wrong track?
Ansor Gubashev is said to have been employed as a security guard in a security company and to have been on duty in a supermarket in the Moscow area. Saur Dadayev’s mother, Aimani Dadayev, appealed to viewers and security agencies on Russian TV station NTW not to prejudge her son. He is innocent. In the past ten years, her son had fought in the security organs against Wahhabi militants and the underground. The other suspects are also all her nephews.
Kommersant also reported that police officers on standby allegedly witnessed the murder that Friday night on the bridge across from the Kremlin. Meanwhile, why they did not intervene and did not rush to the scene of the crime remained open.
One version of the investigators assumes that it is a criminal group on an "ethnic" basis, specializing in robberies and working on its own account. The Interior Ministry wants to rule out a political background as much as possible. In previous attacks on politicians, human rights activists or journalists, those behind the attacks have never been identified. The opposition therefore doubts whether this is the right trail: "It is difficult to say whether these are the real actors or whether the manhunt is following a false trail," said Ilya Yashin, a political companion of Nemtsov.
It is also thought-provoking that the Chechens are said to have chosen Boris Nemtsov, of all people, as their victim. As governor, Nemtsov collected more than a million signatures against the war in Chechnya in the 1990s. Then-President Boris Yeltsin then stopped the slaughter and admitted his mistake.