The Russian investigation announced the main suspects of the murder of the oppositional politician Boris Nemtsov. These are Zaur Dadayev and Beslan Shavanov. The former was detained in the territory of Ingushetia, the latter, according to the official version, blew himself up by a grenade in Grozny when the police were trying to arrest him. Both of them served in the elite Sever battalion of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs; it was formed in 2006 under personal patronage of the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. The other men detained – Anzor and Shagid Gubashev (Dadayev’s second cousins), Ramzat Bakhaev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov (former officer of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Chechnya) – are accused complicity in the crime.
Once the names of Nemtsov’s presumed killers were announced, a war of arguments and counterarguments broke out in the Russian media space. Rosbalt with a reference to its sources stated that Zaur Dadayev confessed to organizing and performing the murder. The main motives were allegedly Nemtsov’s negative statements about Muslims and their religion. The oppositionist’s associates insist that he has never allowed himself sharp statements about Islam. Dadayev’s mother Aymani said in the comment to the RBC agency that her son was not able to commit a crime, especially out of religious beliefs, "Zaur was not a very religious person, he worked very much. He has awards, he fought against Wahhabi. It is a mistake". Later, Dadayev confirmed in his interview to Moskovskij Komsomolets that he confessed to the murder only because the law enforcement agents threatened him and his friend Ruslan Yusupov who was in the same car during the arrest, "I thought that when they bring me to Moscow, I will tell the whole truth in court. That I am innocent. But the judge did not even let me say a word".
Despite the multitude of controversial information, it is obvious that the investigation has focused on the Chechen trace and makes it clear that there were no high-ranking officials behind Nemtsov’s murder and that it was Dadayev’s personal initiative. "There are other people involved, and they are from Putin’s immediate environment," a retired colonel of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) said in the comment to the GORDON . He asked not to disclose his name. My interviewee served in Russian after the collapse of the USSR, he retired and came back home to Ukraine two years ago in 2013. The FSB colonel maintains that his former command was involved in the organization of Nemtsov’s murder.
Nemtsov’s real killers have been liquidated
– Do you believe that the Russian investigation has arrested real killers of Nemtsov?
– All the arrested Chechens have mothers, wives, and children, so they will have to confess to the murder sooner or later if they want their relatives to remain safe. The story of Muslims hurt by Nemtsov is idiotic itself, it is intended for the Russian consumer. A killer who carried out the murder of a politician of such level can live as long as he is allowed to live. I think that Nemtsov’s real killers have already been liquidated.
Russian investigation considers the deputy commander of the Sever battalion Zaur Dadayev to be the main organizer and perpetrator of the murder. When Dadayev was arrested in the territory of Ingushetia he admitted his guilt, however, he renounced his words later in Moscow. "I was chained and had a bag on the head for two days, Dadayev said in an interview. They kept shouting, "Did you kill Nemtsov?" I answered that I did not. At the moment of arrest I was with my friend and former subordinate Ruslan Yusupov. They said that if I confess they will set him free. I agreed. I thought that I would save him and will come to Moscow alive. Otherwise, there would be what happened to Shavanov". Screenshot of video by The Inform News
– Who do you think shot the oppositional politician?
– Everything that took place in the evening February 27 should be divided into several parts. Firstly, the scene of the murder is Bolshoi Moskvoretskiy Bridge that is very near the Kremlin and surrounded by video, photo and audio equipment.
– So, the statement that video cameras did not work at the moment of Nemtsov’s murder is either a lie or a dodge of the investigators?
– There are the so-called closed posts at the beginning and at the end of Moskvoretskiy Bridge; officers are on duty there 24 hours seven days a week, there are operators, every second of the input video is controlled, there is also an emergency group that is ready to act and block suspicious persons at all times.
– Who exactly are considered "suspicious"?
– If you start taking pictures or filming something in the safety zone, you will be checked immediately. Besides, secret service agents in civilian clothes constantly walk along the bridge. These may be street cleaners, or a couple of lovers, or a mother with a pram, whatever – their mission is to watch for specific marks, suspicious bags, etc. on the bridge. Everybody who lives or works in the buildings four or five blocks around the Kremlin are registered and watched.
– Why did not the authorities arrest the killer right on the bridge?
– Do you suggest that the order to kill Nemtsov came from the Russian president and the operation was carried out by agents who are subordinate to him?
– It is a wrong conclusion. Nemtsov’s murder is very unfavourable for Putin at present, whereas it is favourable for his immediate environment to play a dirty trick on the boss.
– Why should the Kremlin elites need to lay Putin down?
– The Western sanctions really hit the Russian economy, more specifically, the businesses of the president’s associates. Indignation is arousing in Putin’s environment, these are just kitchen talks so far, but billionaires do not need problems with Ukraine, moreover with the West. Putin may think himself the gatherer of Russian lands, but there is unrest starting among Putin’s associates. As a matter of fact, it does not mean that they decided to overthrow Putin by killing Nemtsov.
– What exactly did they want?
"Do you really think that, during meetings with security officials, Putin talks as on the TV, "Sirs, what exactly does your problem consist in?". He shouts and swears at them, he asks why they are not in Kiev yet." March 6, 2015, Kremlin. Vladimir Putin at a briefing with permanent members of the Russian Security Council; according to the official site of the Russian president, during this session "there was an exchange of opinions regarding the implementation of the Minsk accords in Ukraine." Photo: kremlin.ru
– Why did your colleagues from FSB agree to "help" the Russian president’s associates to kill Nemtsov?
– Russian enforcement agents bear a grudge against Kadyrov, he got their goat long ago. But the main thing is that there was a critical situation. The operation in Ukraine was a failure: almost a year has passed, and Kiev has not been seized, Ukraine has not been occupied. When the plan of quick and bloodless occupation of the Crimea and Donbass was planned, everybody was drawing nice pictures and reporting to the Putin that Ukraine would surrender if there was enough money.
– Judging by the events of the previous year, there was generous financing…
– Yes, money has been spent, but the task was not fulfilled. They were supposed to make a corridor to the Crimea before May 2014. They failed and got stuck in Donbass, and the money had already been spent. Somebody must be responsible. Who? Director of FSB, Head of the Chief Intelligence Department, Minister of Defence - everybody.
Law enforcement agencies lay the blame for Nemtsov’s murder not just on Chechens, but on Kadyrov’s people. It is obviously a frame-up. But Putin will never start sorting it out with the Chechen leader and will not dismiss him, otherwise the North Caucasus will explode. Do you think that anyone in Chechnya forgot the Kremlin was destroying Grozny and killing locals with carpet bombings? I repeat that if Kadyrov’s people decided to remove Nemtsov, why not let them leave the scene of the murder?
On March 9, two hours after the arrest of the first suspects in Nemtsov's case, the Russian pressident awarded Ramzan Kadyrov with the Order of Honour "for excellent performance, public activities and long-lasting consientious work". Putin's press secretary said that it was by accident that the award presentation and the arrest coincided, while Russian oppositional media are sure that the Russian leader gave an unambiguous signal that he would not dismiss Kadyrov in spite of the fact the former subordinates of the Chechen leader were involved in the crime. Screenshot of Kadyrov's official page in Instagram
– The Russian media have already answered this question: allegedly, external shadowing never interferes, it only records everything that happens to the surveillance object.
– It is not true. Even if they missed the moment of the murder, they should have arrested the suspects. If Nemtsov was shot somewhere in a back street, I could believe that the agents could miss the killers, but it is impossible for the killer to be overlooked without prior agreement with special services. So top officials from the security agencies are involved in the operation, and Nemtsov was shot by the order of Putin’s immediate environment.
– Why did the killers spare the woman who was with the oppositionist – the Ukrainian citizen Anna Duritskaya?
– They could not kill her, she is a Ukrainian, nobody wanted to involve Ukraine, otherwise the investigation would have arrested people with Ukrainian surnames and Ukrainian Security Service badges instead of the Chechens.
– I still cannot understand: if security agents wanted to let down Kadyrov, why was the Chechens’ arrest announced only nine days after the murder?
– It was right, they showed that they have investigated the Western, nationalistic and Ukrainian traces (otherwise Duritskaya would not have been allowed to return to Kiev) and found the strongest version – Kadyrov’s people. The only video of the murder that was uploaded to the Internet proves that the operation was planned in detail. Did you notice the snow plough driving near Nemtsov and Duritskaya? It was driving at a speed of a pedestrian. And it blocked the murder in the weather video camera that was not controlled by the security agents. It was done professionally, as usual. Even assuming that Zaur Dadayev and other Chechens are real perpetrators, who would have let them alive?
– If your version is true, Putin has already figured out which of his associates ordered Nemtsov’s murder?
– I think that Putin did not expect Nemtsov’s murder, so those who missed this operation will be held responsible. In Ukraine, everything is announced in the media immediately, whereas the perpetrators are removed without fuss in Russia. As for the people who ordered the murder, I have no doubt: their names were reported to Putin within the very first day after the murder. We should only follow the news: which of the Kremlin officials will suddenly die in a car accident, plane crash, during fishing or hunting. The president will present his condolences and will not even come to the funerals.
– Do you insist that Nemtsov’s murder was ordered by people from Putin’s immediate environment, and the operation was carried out by Russia security services. You have emphasized that the aim of the murder is to make Putin more compliant and to distract his attention from the failures of high-ranking officials in Ukraine, and to let down Kadyrov. Was this plan a success?
– Everything depends on Putin’s actions now. The president’s main advantage is that he thinks out of the box and takes decisions very promptly. Putin has a team of good analysts, he is very careful about his staff. It will take these brainiacs a couple of weeks to think up how the situation with Nemtsov’s murder can be stabilized for Putin’s benefit.