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Published in Stream:
Russia Update: March 10, 2015
Press by
The Interpreter
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Suspects in Nemtsov's Murder 'Acted Alone,' Say Investigators
5 years
Chechen Suspect in Nemtsov Case Resigned from Interior Ministry Troops on Day Before Murder

There were no "contractors" in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, investigators have told RosBalt -- meaning that the suspects already arrested alone planned and executed the murder without the involvement of any other masterminds.

Investigators who were not named in the article said Dadayev, former Sever Battalion soldier, and Bislan Shavanov, who died in an explosion when he tried to throw a grenade when knocked on his door, were the main suspects. Shavanov also turned out to be a soldier in the Sever Battalion. Says Rosbalt (translation by The Interpreter):

Studying the evidence which is now available in the case, the testimony of the witnesses and the main accused, an unambiguous conclusion can be made: the murder of Nemtsov is the personal initiative of Dadayev and Shavanov.

"They had no other 'contractors," said a Rosbalt source in law-enforcement. According to the source, officially, the theory is still being worked of the possibility that the ex-fighters from Sever performed the crime at someone's request. However, no objective confirmations have been found. "The whole circle of contacts of Dadayev and Shavanov is being studied, including natives of Chechnya who now live abroad. But it all comes to the same thing, that they planned all this together."

Officials seem eager to discount any relationship of the murder to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, let alone to President Vladimir Putin or any other top Kremlin official, so they are now pushing the theory that the killers acted alone.

Often in such high-profile assassination cases, only the immediate perpetrators of the murder are found, and the planners or the contractors who paid the others is not found.

The reference to "Chechens abroad" may explain what was leaked yesterday by another investigator regarding a "foreign footprint".

says that investigators are working on a theory that after the two Sever soldiers resigned (one on health grounds and the other due to the need to help an ailing mother), "they looked for some way to be useful in civilian life but did not find it."

The two men reportedly spent a lot of time in religious discussions both together and with other acquaintances, and the topic of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons repeatedly came up. Then, goes the theory, the two former policemen grew outraged at various Russian civic figures defending the cartoonists, including Nemtsov, who they claimed had advocated such cartoons should continue to appear.

The killers were said then to be motived not only by punishing the defenders of Charlie Hebdo but by the wish to "raise their own authority in the North Caucasus"; they singled out Nemtsov because he has made "negative statements on Muslims" in their view and had proposed "jailing" Kadyrov for his abuses, says Rosbalt.

In fact, as we reported, when Nemtsov posted a half dozen times on the Charlie Hebdo issue, most of his posts were in defense of a lone picketer with a "Je Suis Charlie" sign arrested near the Kremlin and he didn't say anything about the need to publish the cartoons. When the "Charlie Hebdo" connection to Nemtsov was first floated by the Investigative Committee on February 28, Kadyrov in fact discounted it and said "Western intelligence agencies" were to blame for Nemtsov's murder in a false-flag operation.

The other three suspects in the murder, Anzor and Shadid Gubashev -- are distant relatives of Dadayev and their two friends, Tamerlan Ekserkhanov and Khamzat Bakhayev.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick