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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Russia Update: March 2, 2015

Publication: Russia Update
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The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Ukrainian MFA Says Duritskaya Has Flown to Kiev

Anna Duritskaya, the companion of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has just flown to Kiev, Yevgeniy Perebiynis, spokesman for the Ukrainian Foreign Minister has reported on his Twitter account.

Translation: Ganna Durytska (Anna Duritskaya) has just flown to Kiev. Ukrainian diplomats in Moscow have provided our citizen all the necessary assistance in returning home.

Earlier, Duritskaya's lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, told Moskovsky Komsomolets that she had been held in a private apartment and kept under surveillance round the clock, and that investigators had interrogated her until 3:30 am.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick


The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Human Rights Leaders Condemn Russian TV Propaganda as Creating Climate to Enable Nemtsov's Murder

International Memorial Society, the leading human rights group in Russia, released a statement on the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

They join others in the Russian intelligentsia who believe that Russian state TV was a big factor in creating a climate of incitement to kill opposition figures. Many of the participants in the march in memory of Nemtsov yesterday carried signs saying "Propaganda Kills," or this sign:

The Interpreter has translated the statement:

In recent years and months, the government of Russia and the mass media that serves it has created an atmosphere of hatred toward any dissent. State propaganda not only "highlights," like a projector, the target for killers, but it creates in them a sense of impunity. Opposition activists and simply independent civic and political activists are called hostile agents, essentially declaring them as a "permissible target." Thus, on March 1, NTV announced the broadcast of another show in its series "Anatomy of Protest," where Boris Nemtsov was given the role of one of the main "enemies."
But now it's not a question limited just to propaganda: with the help of the government, Anti-Maidan has been created -- ranks of storm-troopers openly proclaiming as their aim the forceful suppression, outside the law, of the opposition. These forces are closely associated with the "militia" fighting in eastern Ukraine, from where people return from Russia with the experience of direct armed violence with impunity.

Today, we still don't know the name of the executors, organizers and contractors of the crime. But we can definitely state: it is the Russian goverment that has created all the prerequisites for the murder of Boris Nemtsov.

Russian human rights advocates have been pretty pessimistic that the killers will be found -- or if some suspects are captured, they will be the right ones.

Veteran human rights movement leader Ludmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group visited the scene where Nemtsov was killed to lay flowers, polit.ru reported, citing Interfax:

I would be very happy if they find the killer, but to my recollection there is not a single political murder where they found the contractor.

Not for the first time, RIA Novosti, which covered the same event, but selected a different quotation:

This is a terrible political murder...terrible that it is happening at such a time. For me, he was a very good and honest person, true to his convictions, I have known him many years.

Andrew Kuchins, director of the Russian and Eurasian Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, agreed that the masterminds are rarely found in these cases:

We would have to agree, thinking of all the political murders since the assassination of ORT (Channel 1) chief Vladimir Listyev 20 years ago on March 1, 1995, which seemed to usher in the modern era of such deaths since the Stalin era, the masterminds are rarely if ever found. Listyev's murder paved the way for Konstantin Ernst to take over, who today heads what is now called TV1. Under Ernst, the "toddler crucifixion" story and other outrageous propaganda shows have been broadcast, including the vilification of the opposition as "fifth columnists."

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
REN TV Reports Police Have Found Car Said to be Driven by Nemtsov's Killers

REN TV, a private TV channel which generally hews to a pro-Kremlin line, has reported that after several false starts, police have found the car in which the killers of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov sped away.


15_43.jpg?itok=FtOX0nsI

On February 28, REN TV published footage from a video surveillance camera showing what they said was the killers' getaway car, but without further commentary. The video was evidently taken from a different camera than the weather camera which shows Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge where Nemtsov was killed.

Now today March 2, REN TV has published more information based on sources inside the investigation.

Investigators told REN TV that based on the weather video tape, they were looking for a Ford or KIA, but then found a Ukrainian knock-off of the Chevrolet Lanos -- a ZAZ Chance which they believed matched the car at the scene of the crime. The owners were discovered to live in Moscow Region. A woman was found and interrogated, and she said she had sold the automobile long ago.

From there, a source in the investigation told REN TV, "We managed to establish a certain circle of persons and they are now being searched for." The source added that the investigation's information "confirmed the theory that the murder of Nemtsov was prepared by persons from the Caucasian regions of Russia."

Investigators have gone over the car thoroughly and have found hairs that could only have been left by the killer, they sais. "DNA analysis can be done even if the bandits are destroyed when detained," said the source.

REN TV said "specialists will study practically every mechanism and bolt in the car. Possibly they will thus manage to learn where the car was repaired recently, which will help them follow the trail of the killers."

Yesterday March 2, LifeNews, a TV channel close to intelligence and police, reported that the killers of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov sped away in a different car, a silver VAZ-21102.

This was after several false alarms where police said they had found a white car, but then it turned out to be the wrong one. A source in law-enforcement told LifeNews (translation by The Interpreter):

"The killer fled in a VAZ-21102 bright-grey metal-colored car made in 2002. All the posts and police departments of Moscow were alerted to look for the car. There was information that it could have gone beyond the bounds of the Moscow Ring Road."


Police said the license plate was registered in Northern Ossetia, but the car was taken off the registry in 2011. The former owner, who lives outside of Vladikavkaz, was identified. Then according to a later LifeNews report March 1, police caught up with the driver outside of Zelenograd and determined that "most likely" he was unrelated to the murder.

LifeNews hasn't commented on REN TV's report.

While it's always possible that different pro-government TV stations talk to different sources in law-enforcement, it's also possible that authorities are throwing out a lot of stories about different cars, just as they have thrown out a lot of stories about possible perpetrators of the murder, to confuse the public.

One thing seems clear from these stories -- the investigation's efforts so far are turning up very predictable clues related to Ukraine and to the usual scapegoat for crimes in Russia, the Caucasus.

-- Catherine A. Fitzpatrick



The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Former Latvian Foreign Minister Denied Entry to Russia for Nemtsov's Funeral

The Interpreter
@Interpreter_Mag
Russian-to-English translation journal, with original analysis and commentary on Russia's foreign & domestic policy.
Interpreter_Mag
Video of the Nemtsov Assassination Raises Questions About The Government's Official Narrative

As we reported, footage released from the weather camera of TV Tsentr, a station owned by the city of Moscow, shows the likely perpetrators of the murder who make a getaway soon after shooting opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. But the view of the actual assassination is blocked by a city utility vehicle.

In the video, below, Nemtsov and Ukrainian model Anna Duritskaya can be seen walking down the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge while the utility vehicle, possibly a street sweeper, slowly approaches from behind.  When the truck is between Nemtsov and the camera, a figure can be seen running out from behind the truck and getting into a getaway car. When the utility truck advances further, Nemtsov is lying on the ground, shot.

One theory is that the assassin was hiding in a nearby stairwell when Nemtsov approached. The shooter then killed Nemtsov while the truck blocked the camera (which may or may not be a coincidence) and the shooter then ran away. Pavel Pryannikov, a friend of Nemtsov's and well-known blogger in Moscow, advanced this theory, as did the New York Times. Pryannikov suggested that the killer "work was high-quality - the snow-cleaning machine blocked him from the camera." The Russianstate-operated  propaganda network RT agrees, writing  "low-resolution video hints that the killer may have been waiting for Nemtsov at the bridge."

There is, however, one problem with this theory based on the video alone -- no other person besides Nemtsov and his companion Duritskaya (dressed in the white coat) are visible in the video before Nemtsov was shot. And while Nemtsov was indeed killed close to the stairwell in question, the stairwell is also visible in the video. 

This is the stairwell in question, visible here on Google maps:

stairwell-nemtsov.png

But Nemtsov was actually killed much closer to the first lamp post to the right of the stairwell, and the stairwell is actually visible the entire time in the video of the assassination, but the assassin appears to be never visible. 

The Ukraine at War blog has highlighted the stairwell in this video, a zoomed in version of the original which is posted above. As you can see, while two other people can be seen walking up the stairs (they appear to be long gone when Nemtsov is killed) no one is seen walking up the stairs right before he was killed. In fact, there is no person in the video who looks like they could have killed Nemtsov -- that is, until the person runs from behind the truck and gets into a getaway car.

There are other problems with the theory that the killer walked up the stairs. Anna Duritskaya, Nemtsov's companion, has said that she never saw the killer. As we pointed out earlier, she may have been coerced, but if she is telling the truth it is hard to believe that she would have failed to notice the assassin run up the stairs which were directly in front of them and shoot Nemtsov four times.

Another theory quickly emerged -- that the killer got out of the utility truck, killed Nemtsov, and then jumped in the getaway car. This would explain why the killer was not visible before the truck blocked the view of Nemtsov's murder. However, Duritskaya says that right after Nemtsov was shot she ran to the man in the snowplow and he helped her call police. Would she run to someone whom she believed was working with the assassin?

There is, however, an alternate theory -- that the killer may have been riding on the back of the snow removal vehicle. It's conceivable that the person, likely holding on to the handholds on the right side of the vehicle, jumped off the vehicle right before, or perhaps even during the firing of the shots that hit Nemtsov. The driver of the vehicle may or may not have even known that the killer was riding on the back, and it's possible that Duritskaya, who was on Nemtsov's left, may have been looking away from the truck and never noticed the assassin, who may have run into the street before she had a chance to see him.

Ukraine at War also points out that at one point before the assassination, a figure is visible walking behind Nemtsov, but as the snow removal vehicle drives past the figure is no longer visible. 

The video quality is low, and the camera is positioned some distance from the scene of the murder, but right now the video does suggest one possible theory -- that the killer was riding on the back of the vehicle before killing Nemtsov and escaping into a getaway car. While it is possible that the shooter was hiding somewhere on the bridge, no other person is visible in this video in the area where Nemtsov was killed prior to the assassination.

As we point out and analyse below, there were many security cameras in the area of the shooting, any one of which could easily clarify what happened Friday night. And this killing happened on the doorstep of the Kremlin, making the government's lack of statements about potential leads and it's denial of knowledge of the incident both curious and suspicious.

-- James Miller, Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

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