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Written by Diana Thebaud Nicholson // July 12, 2019 // Russia // Comments Off on Boris Nemtsov
See also Russia
12 July 2019
Europe’s security watchdog reveals key evidence in the Nemtsov murder investigation
(WaPo) This week brought a potential breakthrough in the investigation of Russia’s most high-profile political murder in recent memory, the 2015 assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov [see: Russia in 2015 — or, rather, it would have, if Russian law enforcement had any intention of investigating it seriously. The announcement, in fact, was made not in Moscow but to the west, in Luxembourg, where the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) met for its annual session and held its first hearing on the Nemtsov case.
Among other materials made public at the Luxembourg hearing was a transcript of sworn testimony by Akhmed Zakayev, a former deputy prime minister of Chechnya who now lives in exile in London. The testimony had been obtained by Vadim Prokhorov, the lead attorney for Nemtsov’s family, and submitted to the Russian Investigative Committee, along with Zakayev’s contact information. Predictably, it refused to pursue it — because, according to the official response, Zakayev’s statements “do not offer any further details of the criminal offense committed.”
Officials from the OSCE — the organization tasked with monitoring European security — seem to think otherwise. In his testimony, Zakayev recounts that, in early 2012, he received information from a trusted source in “the inner circle of Ramzan Kadyrov and Adam Delimkhanov” (respectively, the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya and Chechnya’s representative in the Russian parliament) that Kadyrov had been tasked with organizing the murder of Boris Nemtsov. According to Zakayev’s source, the order came directly from then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his head of security, Viktor Zolotov, on their visit to Chechnya in December 2011.
… It is worth recalling that the convicted gunman in the Nemtsov murder case — Lt. Zaur Dadayev of the Russian Ministry of the Interior troops — served in Chechnya under the command of both Zolotov and Kadyrov. As stated in a recent Council of Europe report, it is “extremely unlikely” that he could have carried out such a complex and high-profile crime “without at least the foreknowledge and approval of, if not direct instructions from, … hierarchical superiors.” The killers’ ties to Kadyrov have been highlighted in U.S. congressional resolutions and the U.S. government’s designation of a close Kadyrov confidant for sanctions under the Magnitsky Act. With Zakayev’s testimony, the chain of responsibility seems to be confirmed by a source in Kadyrov’s own entourage — and, for the first time, extended upward to Putin himself. Needless to say, in the four years since the murder, Russian investigators steadfastly refused to move beyond the immediate perpetrators, with the top investigative official declaring the Nemtsov case to be “solved.”
This, indeed, is why international oversight became necessary. “In a society governed by the rule of law, the political opposition is equally protected,” Margareta Cederfelt, the Swedish vice president of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly and its rapporteur on the Nemtsov case, said at the hearing in Luxembourg. “When … justice and the protection of democratic rights cannot be sought at the national level, the international community must engage.” According to her mandate, Cederfelt has until July 2020 to prepare and submit her final report. The reelection of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s president, George Tsereteli, who defeated a Kremlin-backed candidate, ensures that the oversight process will be completed.
The Unaccountable Death of Boris Nemtsov
By Joshua Yaffa
(The New Yorker) A year later, the significance of Nemtsov’s assassination is still coming into focus. Shorina told me that it marked the moment when the state “stopped feeling shame, stopped trying to explain its actions, stopped trying to keep to the bounds of decency.” Although Nemtsov’s murder was not the only sign of Russia’s political degradation in the past year, it was the most dramatic: the killing, within sight of the Kremlin, of a person who, even in his opposition, was a member of the political establishment. And the state doesn’t appear all that able, or motivated, to do much about it.
Chechen leader Kadyrov ‘threatens whole of Russia’, opposition says
Author of report Ilya Yashin tells Guardian he has no doubt Putin protege was behind killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov
(The Guardian) Vladimir Putin’s handpicked leader of Chechnya, Ramzan Kadyrov, is a corrupt and merciless dictator whose growing political ambitions pose a serious danger to Russia’s future, a damning opposition report has claimed.
The 65-page report, called A National Security Threat, was presented in Moscow by its author, Ilya Yashin, a close friend of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, and a leading figure in the latter’s RPR-Parnas political party.
Alongside allegations of secret prisons, routine-vote rigging in favour of Putin, and the plunder of Russia’s national budget, the report also details Kadyrov’s possible involvement in a spate of apparently politically motivated killings of journalists, human rights activists, and political opponents, including that of Nemtsov.
Yashin’s report also questions why Putin has allowed Kadyrov to assemble a 30,000-strong, heavily armed private army, commonly known as the Kadyrovtsy.
While Kadyrov denied any links to the murder, he was quick to praise the suspected gunman, a former Chechen police officer named Zaur Dadayev, as a “genuine Russian patriot”. Putin awarded Kadyrov a state honour shortly after Nemtsov’s death.
Boris Nemtsov’s Murder is Solved, Says Russia’s Chief Investigator
(Newsweek) The murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead by the walls of the Kremlin in February 2015, has been solved, the chief of Russia’s Investigative Committee told state-run magazine Rossiyskaya Gazeta Nedelya.
Extracts from the interview with Russia’s Investigator-in-Chief Alexander Bastrykin, which have been circulated via independent news agency Interfax and other outlets, will be published on Thursday but do not include information about who he considers the perpetrators to be.
Although nobody has been found guilty of murdering Nemtsov, in December investigators announced that their final list of suspects consisted of four Chechen men: Zaur Dadayev, Shadid Gubashev, Temirlan Eskerhanov and Hamzat Bahaev. All were arrested in March and have remained key suspects since. Dadayev has close ties with Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, having served in the Chechen Interior Ministry’s Sever battalion. Kadyrov has not been questioned in connection to the Nemtsov murder.
Boris Nemtsov murder investigators name Chechen mastermind
Russian opposition leader’s supporters dismiss claim as attempt to cover up potential involvement of high-level figures
(The Guardian) The investigation into the murder of Boris Nemtsov is coming to a close, say Russian investigators, who named Ruslan Mukhudinov, the personal driver of a top commander of one of Chechnya’s armed battalions, as the mastermind behind the attack.
The opposition leader’s associates and supporters said the announcement showed the investigation had been an attempt to cover up the potential involvement of higher-level Chechen figures, right up to the region’s pro-Moscow leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.
Ilya Yashin, Nemtsov’s political ally, said: “The investigators are carrying out a political order to cover up the real culprits, not only the real mastermind but even the real organisers. Mukhudinov was an ordinary driver, it’s absolutely clear he was not the initiator of this crime.”
Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the investigative committee, told news agencies that Mukhudinov was the “organiser and mastermind” behind the assassination.
Indifference to my father’s murder shows Russia’s deep moral decay – Zhanna Nemtsova
As inquest into Boris Nemtsov’s murder comes to a close his daughter warns public apathy is threatening the future of the country’s political opposition
Boris Nemtsov and the Convenient Chechen Connection
Russian investigators have followed the trail of the opposition leader’s murder to an implausible motive and an unlikely suspect. And that’s OK with them.
(Foreign Policy Dispatch) A little more than a week after opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down, Russian state investigators claim to have found the culprit, and it’s not who anyone expected: lone-wolf Islamist radicals.
Nemtsov’s acquaintances, independent experts, and even one of Russia’s biggest newspapers have ridiculed this hypothesis, sensing that it has all the markings of a cover-up. While the exact origins remain murky — and the full story may never be discovered — the high-profile killing likely involved influential organizers from Russia’s troubled republic of Chechnya. … Why would a high-ranking Chechen official give the order to kill Nemtsov? Gregory Shvedov, who edits the Caucasian Knot, an online news site dedicated to the region, said the crime could have been organized by a security or military official “who heard many times how upset Kadyrov was with Nemtsov and wanted to please him.” Here, Charlie Hebdo may have in fact played an indirect role, with eager Kadyrov subordinates turning to Nemtsov as a stand-in for self-exiled Putin foe Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who was also on the Chechen hit list, Novaya Gazeta reported. After Khodorkovsky tweeted on the day of the Paris killings that “tomorrow there shouldn’t be one publication without a caricature of the prophet,” Kadyrov said the former oligarch turned Putin foe had “announced himself the enemy of all Muslims in the world.” “That means he’s my personal enemy,” Kadyrov wrote on Instagram.
Dmitry Oreshkin, an independent political analyst in Moscow, believes Nemtsov’s murder could have been an attempt by anti-Western hard-liners — like Kadyrov — to disrupt the peace process that Putin and European leaders have embarked on in eastern Ukraine.
(Foreign Policy) Russian authorities charged two men in the Feb. 27 assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a prominent leader of the opposition to President Vladimir Putin. Three additional men have been detained in the investigation. One of the men charged reportedly has ties to Ramazan Kadyrov, the leader of Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya. The other suspects also have ties to Russia’s Muslim population, according to Russian media, and one may have been a police officer in Chechnya. Police are still searching for other suspects.
Kadyrov said that the former policeman who has been charged in the crime may have been angered by the cartoons … in Charlie Hebdo. “All who know Zaur confirm that he is a deep believer and also that he, like all Muslims, was shocked by the activities of Charlie and comments in support of printing the cartoons,” Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram account. [BBC: Ramzan Kadyrov: Putin’s key Chechen ally]
Court documents said that the killings were “committed for financial gain,” a charge often used in contract killings.
Blaming Nemtsov’s death on the usual suspects: the Chechens
(Globe & Mail editorial) The Nemtsov and Politovskaya cases suggest that the authorities have a tactic that adds up to: “When in doubt, blame some Chechens.”
Chechen confesses involvement in murder of Russia’s Nemtsov
(AFP) – A Russian court on Sunday charged two men with the murder of opposition activist Boris Nemtsov, including a former police officer from Chechnya who confessed to his involvement in what investigators said was a contract killing.
Identifying Nemtsov’s Killers Brings No Closure to His Murder
(The Atlantic via Yahoo!) The relative anonymity of the suspects raises doubts, however, that they acted on their own volition. Neither man appeared to know Nemtsov; Zhanna Nemtsova, the victim’s daughter, in turn has said she has no idea who they were. Instead, Nemtsov’s murder follows the pattern of high-profile assassinations under the rule of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s de facto ruler since 2000: The killers, when they’re apprehended at all, are usually little more than hired hands.
Jeremy Kinsman: A good man goes down — Remembering Boris Nemtsov
As Russians mourn the opposition leader, killed last Friday, Canada’s former Ambassador reflects on what his death symbolizes in the country’s battle for a more inclusive democracy
(Open Canada) Is there a chance Vladimir Putin retains a shred of self-doubt, enough to acknowledge it has gone too far?
The tone and words of his condolence message to Nemtsov’s mother, Dina Eydman, were personal, grieving, and unusually complimentary to her son’s work in Russian public life, as a “principled person” who “acted openly, consistently and never betrayed his views” he “always openly and honestly voiced.”
Just more cynical spin? Or a sign that this is bad for Russia and bad for Putin himself, implicitly acknowledging the possibility that Nemtsov’s role as a victim of what Putin termed a “cruel and cynical murder” had turned the tables on Putin at last?
Adding fuel to the fire:
(Globe & Mail) The business newspaper Kommersant, meanwhile, quoted anonymous sources in the Interior Ministry as saying there was no CCTV footage of the killing because the cameras in question were not working at the time.
However, Yelena Novikova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s information technology department, which oversees the city’s surveillance cameras, said Monday that all cameras “belonging to the city” were operating correctly on the night of Nemtsov’s death. She said federal authorities also had surveillance cameras near the Kremlin that are not under her organization’s control.
Novikova would not confirm the existence of any video of the killing, saying the police investigation was still under way.
Meanwhile, TV Center, a station controlled by the Moscow city government, broadcast a poor-resolution video from one of its Web cameras that it said showed Nemtsov and his date shortly before he was killed. A vehicle that TVC identified as a snowplow moved slowly behind the couple, obscuring the view of the shooting. TV Center then circled what it said was the suspected killer jumping into a passing car.
The authenticity of the TVC video could not be independently confirmed.
The not-so-simple murder of Boris Nemtsov
Writing for Al Jazeera, Alexander Nekrassov, a former Kremlin and government adviser writes that Vladimir Putin had little reason to have Boris Nemtsov killed, let alone at the Kremlin’s doorstep. He asks: Why would Russian President Vladimir Putin, who enjoys a popularity rating of around 80 percent at the moment, want to get rid of a fading opposition politician, Boris Nemtsov, who hardly registers on the public radar? And what would be the logic of having him assassinated less than half a mile away from the Kremlin walls? Wouldn’t it be asking for trouble, considering that Russia’s relations with the West are at their lowest point since the Cold War over the crisis in Ukraine?
Although the entire tone of the article is highly dismissive of Nemtsov, the author does raise points worth considering.
The Boris Nemtsov Murder Conspiracy Theories
(The Daily Beast) A comprehensive list of the theories, both credible and outlandish, on who killed Russian politician Boris Nemtsov.
Another possibility is that a Putin ally might have ordered the hit as a favour to Putin, maybe without Putin’s knowledge. If that were the case, the gesture could likely ricochet, turning Nemtsov into a rallying point for the somewhat fractured dissidents, and thus doing far more damage to Putin than to the movement. And thus, in Pravda’s words, shooting the organizer and Putin in their respective feet.
Boris Nemtsov murder: Tens of thousands march in Moscow
(BBC) The crowds are shouting “Russia without Putin”, reports the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford from the Moscow march
Tens of thousands of people have marched through central Moscow to honour opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead on Friday.
They carried portraits of Mr Nemtsov and banners saying “I am not afraid”.
He had been due to lead an opposition march on Sunday but his killing turned the event into a mourning rally.
Opposition supporters gathered at a point not far from the Kremlin before marching past the spot on Great Moskvoretsky Bridge where Mr Nemtsov was killed. Some chanted “Russia without Putin!”
Several thousand people also marched in St Petersburg.
Pravda gives us the (unvarnished Russian official) ‘truth’. We may, of course, expect other versions from the ‘CIA-owned media’
Who killed Boris Nemtsov?
(Pravda) … contrary to everything we hear in the Western CIA-owned media, it would be totally out of character for Vladimir Vladimirovich to order the assassination of political opponents. Over the years, Putin had to put up with any number of home-grown traitors, who had deliberately or naively forgotten the entire history of Western crimes against Russia, and who had been dead-set on resurrecting the disastrous, servile, Yeltsin era. And yet there is no evidence, solid or circumstantial, that Putin had ordered the assassination of dissenting voices. …
Given the Argentine experience, would an acknowledged grandmaster of political strategy shoot himself in the foot by ordering the killing of a minor irritant? Does Putin need to kill a man who says that Crimea should effectively belong to Russia’s enemies and would be disintegrators -despite the overwhelming votes of the people of Crimea, despite the arbitrariness of Crimea ever belonging to Ukraine, despite Crimea’s critical importance to Russian security? Could a former advisor to Ukraine’s IMF-owned former President Yushchenko ever pose a threat to the patriotic and popular Putin? …
But our story does not merely end in the exoneration of President Putin, for a likelier assassin readily presents itself: America’s shadow government. That government is either directly involved in Nemtsov’s assassination, or used one of its proxies to carry it out (the list of proxies is certainly as long as it is hideous, and includes MI6, Mossad, the Saudi dictatorship, Ukrainian Nazis, Muslim henchmen such as Al Qaeda and ISIS-none of which would have hatched such a plan without the knowledge and sponsorship of the CIA).
Murder in the shadows of the Kremlin
Nemtsov’s killing is another downwards lurch in culture of political violence
(Financial Times) At a time of international tension over Ukraine, it is tempting for the west to wash its hands of Russia and isolate the country. But that would do a terrible disservice to Nemtsov’s life’s work and Russia’s remaining democratic campaigners.
Just as in Soviet times, Russia’s dissidents look to western democracies as a source of hope. While sanctioning the regime, the west should never cease to engage — where possible — with the Russian people.
Nemtsov embodied a vision of another Russia, at peace with itself and the outside world. The outside world should in turn honour that memory. One leaflet at a time.
Was Boris Nemtsov killed because in Russia opposition figures are deemed traitors?
Vladimir Putin and media are violently hostile to challenges to the state, an intolerance that has helped end the life of another opposition figure
(Guardian) According to spokesman Vladimir Markin, the murder was either a set-up by the opposition to use Nemtsov as a “sacrificial victim”, a personal issue, a settling of scores between radical groups fighting on either side of the Ukraine conflict, or an act of Islamic terrorism. Not a mention of the frequent smearing of opposition politicians by groups close to the Kremlin, or of Nemtsov’s frequent appearance on online lists of “national traitors”.
Anyone who watches Russian state television – and that includes the vast majority of Russians – will have seen a picture painted over the past year of a victimised Russia attacked by voracious western vultures who want, at least, to make Russia irrelevant on the world stage, and at worst to mount a coup and install a puppet government. According to this narrative, the Russian opposition are traitors, working to destroy the country.
Putin critic may have been shot dead by Islamic extremists, says president-led committee
(The Independent UK) Russian officials investigating the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov have claimed Islamist extremists may have been behind his death.
Other possible motives listed by the Investigative Committee, which has Vladimir Putin as its executive, included an attempt to destabilise Russia, the Ukraine conflict and his personal life. …
The Committee announced it was considering whether there was “personal enmity” towards the politician in his private life as state-controlled television gave considerable attention to the woman he was gunned down in front of, identifying her as a Ukrainian model 30 years his junior.
Russia opposition politician Boris Nemtsov shot dead
(BBC) An unidentified attacker in a car shot Mr Nemtsov four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police say.
President Putin has assumed “personal control” of the investigation into the killing, said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
[One witty Wednesday Nighter comments: Had Trotsky not been killed in Mexico, Stalin would have probably taken personal control of the investigation of that case]
Social media has been flooded with tributes to a man remembered as by friends as decent, honest and a democrat. He had been pushed to the political margins in Vladimir Putin’s Russia, but he was still prominent enough for someone to want to kill him.
Boris Nemtsov, Heart of Russia’s Opposition, Gunned Down in Moscow
(Daily Beast) In an assassination that has roiled Russia, a former deputy prime minister and the driving force of Russia’s opposition movement, Boris Nemtsov, was murdered steps away from the Kremlin.
Leon Aron: My Friend Boris
Russia’s passionate opposition leader led a very full life, politically and otherwise. And his legacy will likely be just as rich – and just as powerful — in death.
(Foreign Policy) A Jew and an intellectual (he held a Ph.D. in physics), he was elected and re-elected governor in that ancient Russian city on the Volga. He was the most promising young democratic politician in Russian in the mid 1990s; after Boris Yeltsin’s re-election in 1996, the president wanted to make Nemtsov first deputy prime minister in charge of reforms. Nemtsov refused. He loved his city and unlike most Russians did not care about living in Moscow. Yeltsin sent his daughter and top advisor, Tatiana, to personally convey the invitation. Boris finally relented. … Boris was also the favorite Russian politician of Margaret Thatcher. In turn, he worshiped her as a leader and a fellow anti-Communist conservative and would often call her for advice until he left the government in 1998.
Assassination in Moscow
By Joshua Yaffa
(The New Yorker) In the nineteen-nineties, Nemtsov was among the bright young reformers who quickly ascended the ranks under President Boris Yeltsin. He served as governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region, then, in 1998, took the position of Deputy Prime Minister. When Putin came to power, Nemtsov failed to adjust, and he was pushed out of the Russian parliament in 2003. He went on to start various opposition parties and movements; although he was known for his energy and charisma, he never found wide popularity as a politician. He ran in the 2009 mayoral race in Sochi and lost. His latest party, R.P.R.-PARNAS, which had a liberal, free-market platform opposed to Putin’s centralization of power, failed to clear the five-per-cent threshold needed to gain seats in the State Duma (not that electoral results are the truest indication of potential in a political system as tightly controlled as Russia’s).
Yet Nemtsov remained one of the most visible and consistent figures of the opposition, though he had been eclipsed in recent years by people like Alexey Navalny, and was a forceful speaker at nearly every demonstration in Moscow’s short-lived season of protest in late 2011 and early 2012. He also published a series of reports on Putin-era corruption; his 2013 report on bribery and fraud in the preparations for the Sochi Olympics was widely cited by Russia’s independent press and by Western journalists. After his death on Friday, Nemtsov’s longtime friend and ally, Ilya Yashin, said that he had been preparing a new report on Russia’s participation in the war in Ukraine, which will now be published posthumously.