Russian media announced on Sunday that several suspects have been arrested in connection to the assassination of Putin critic Boris Nemtsov occurred last month. Two men were officially accused of the murder and reportedly already cofessed, while three others are still suspects.
The names of the two men charged are Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev, both Chechens, court spokeswoman Anna Fadeyeva said to the press. As reported by RIA-Novosti, the Kremlin-backed news agency, judge Nataliya Mushnikova claims one of the two admitted his guilt in testimony to the investigators.
The two Chechens were arrested on Saturday, while the identity of the three others remained unknown for a while. One of them probably is Kubashev’s brother Shagit, and Russia Today later announced that the name of the two others are Ramzat Bakhaev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov. These three suspects “denied their ties to the crime”, but police investigators say there is enough evidence as well as eyewitness testimonies to shatter their alibis. The charges issued by the prosecutors are murder and illegal arms possession.
There is very little known about the suspects at the moment, besides their names. Anzor Gubashev apparently was a police officer back in Chechnya, serving as a unit commander, according to another official cited by RIA-Novosti. At the time of his arrest, he was most likely working for a Moscow security company. Nothing is known about Dadayev other that he was born in 1982 in Stavropol, as can be excerpted from his own testimony to the court.
Alexander Bortnikov, Russia’s Federal Security Forces director says Russian police identified the two as suspects on Saturday, but gave no details for the press about how they were apprehended. State news agency TASS suggests however that they were captured in Ingushetia, a Caucasus republic bordering Chechnya. Further reports to the media say the suspects were probably hitmen in the murder of Nemtsov, but the motive behind the assassination is still to be determined by Russian authorities.
Boris Nemtsov took place on a bridge next to the Kremlin, where he was shot four times in the back, in what is believed to be one of the top security spots in Moscow. Although Russia is no strange place to political assassinations, the killing of Nemtsov was one of the highest profiled in years and was quickly denounced by President Vladimir Putin.
Nemtsov was one of the opposition’s leading politicians, a fervent critic of Putin and a well-known adept of capitalism. He was in Moscow to address Russian involvement in the conflict in Ukraine and the economic crisis the country is going through, planning to organize a protest against the government. Nemtsov’s colleagues also suggest that he was prepared to bring indisputable proof of Kremlin offering support to pro-Moscow militants in Ukraine, which is still expected to be extremely unpopular among the Russian people if proven to be true.
Some question marks still loom over his murder and those involved. Initial reports in Russian press informed that at the time of the shooting all cameras in the Kremlin area were shut down from maintenance, while Nemtsov’s daughter is blaming the police for taking too long to arrive at the crime scene. After the arrest of the five suspects, the police have began investigating Mr. Nemtsov’s own connections to Islamist militants.
Chechnya is currently ruled by Ramzan Kadyrov, a controversial figure who became the Kremlin designated man to control the region after initially being labeled a rebel. A backer of President Putin, he criticized Nemtsov’s convictions more than once in the past, but disclaims to have had any role in his assassination. Nemtsov’s history with Islamists also includes and episode where he defended the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists killed by terrorists, while Chechen demonstrators protested against the cartoons for being a sacrilege brought to Islam.
Some of the Western media hailed Boris Nemtsov as a hero after he was murdered, while Kremlin quickly distanced itself from any involvement. Vladimir Putin even called the event “a provocation” whose only purpose is to undermine the credibility of the Russian government and destabilize the country. It remains to be seen what the authorities will determine as the real motive behind the killing.
Image Source: Wall Street Journal
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