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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: March 9, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Further on Chechen Suspect in Nemtsov Murder Investigation; 'Foreign' Angle Invoked
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As we reported earlier today, yesterday March 8, covered the court appearance of five suspects arrested in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Russian investigators are probing the background of Zaur Dadayev,reportedly the main suspect in the Nemtsov murder case and its organizers as well as its executer, says

A source in law-enforcement said that most likely this is Zaur Dadayev, deputy commander of the Sever [North] commander.

The forensic analysis obtained by law-enforcement bodies give grounds to suppose that the person who shot Nemtsov was Dudayev.

He didn't say what exactly this forensic analysis consisted of, and asks whether or not it was gunpowder on the skin or clothing of Dudayev or whether his description matches videotapes from surveillance cameras.

This sounds less certain than the statement made two days ago by Albert Barakhayev, acting deputy secretary for the security council of Ingushetia, who "confirmed" that this was the same Zaur Dadayev who was in the Sever Battalion; Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov also said it was the same man, that he knew him as a "patriot of Russia" and a "devout" Muslim believer. And other investigators said that they had hair samples from the getaway car that matched the suspect.

"This can be confirmed one hundred percent when the murder weapon is found," a source told Investigators are said to be searching the bottom of the Moscow River near the bridge where Nemtsov was killed.

The source also said that Dadayev confessed to the murder "although he was very reluctant to communicate with investigators."

"From his scant testimony it follows that he was the organizer of the murder," said the source.

Given that all of the sources on this story are anonymous and their stories are starting to shift, it may be that the investigation is stuck on proving that this particular Chechen is related to the shooting, even if they can place him in a car they think is the getaway car.

As notes, as deputy commander of the Sever battalion, Dadayev would have answered to Col. Alimbek Delimkhanov, the brother of Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov, who became notorious for being caught with a golden gun in parliament.

The Delimkhanovs are among the closest associates of Kadyrov as they are his cousins. The Sever Battalion and also the Yug [South] Battalion were created in 2006 under the patronage of Kadyrov himself. The consist of former officers of the so-called Anti-Terrorist Center of Chechnya and the presidential security service. Formally, these units are subordinate to the command of the North Caucasus District troops of the Interior Ministry of Russia.

Dadayev was said to serve for 10 years in a special division of the Interior Troops which then became Sever. In 2010, he was awarded the Order of Courage. Recently, he was said to resign from the service under circumstances that are not known.

Dadayev, along with Anzor and Shagid Gubashev, his third cousins, were all detained together in neighboring Ingushetia.

As we reported
, after the name of the suspect became known, Kadyrov wrote about him on his Instagram:

I knew Zaur as a real patriot of Russia. From the very first days of the creation of the regiment which was a part of the 46th Separate Operations Brigade of the Internal Forces of the Interior Ministry of the Russian Federation, he served in it. He had the rank of "lieutenant." He held the post of deputy commander of the battalion. Zaur was one of the most fearless and courageous soldiers of the regiment. He was particularly distinguished in battle near Benoy, when there was a special operation against a large band of terrorists. He was awarded the Order of Courage and medals "For Bravery," "For Service to the Chechen Republic" and a Letter of Gratitude from the head of the Chechen Republic and so on.

The investigators now have a "foreign" angle in the case, says

Law-enforcement agencies have established the foreign contacts of the suspects in the murder of Nemtsov, therefore the theory of the foreign footprint is also being actively developed, a law-enforcement source told Interfax. He noted that according to one theory, the motive for the murder of Nmetsov "could have become the politician's [Nemtsov's] sharp expressions regarding Islam."

No indication was given of which foreign countries were involved.

As we reported, back on February 28, when the Investigative Committee first floated the "Islamist" or "Charlie Hebdo" angle, Ramzan Kadyrov in fact didn't pick it up, and stuck to his script about "Western intelligence agencies" being responsible.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick