In Digest, Feature Articles, Russia

By Tom Parfitt, Moscow, The Telegraph (UK), Sunday, March 8, 2015

Five appear in court in Moscow over the killing

A suspect in the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov blew himself up with a grenade as police tried to detain him in Chechnya, it has been reported. Officers surrounded the man at an apartment in Grozny on Saturday evening, but he was killed by a hand grenade that exploded as he tossed it towards them, a law enforcement source told Interfax.

Policemen guard the yard of Basmanny district court in Moscow on March 8, 2015, photo by EPA

Policemen guard the yard of Basmanny district court in Moscow on March 8, 2015, photo by EPA

Another of the six suspects, Zaur Dadayev, reportedly admitted on Sunday that he was involved in the killing, the judge said. The judge at Moscow’s Basmanny court ordered that Dadayev be held in custody until April 28, a Reuters reporter in the courtroom said.

Russia’s Federal Security Service said on Saturday that two men, Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev, had been detained on suspicion of murdering Mr Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister who was shot dead as he walked on a bridge near the Kremlin with his girlfriend on February 27.

The assassination prompted worldwide condemnation and thousands of people attended a memorial service for the politician in Moscow last week. Mr Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin, Russia’s president, and his family and friends believe he was killed for his political stance.

The two suspects, who were reportedly detained in the North Caucasus republic of Ingushetia, are expected to be formally arrested at a hearing at Moscow’s Basmanny Court on Sunday. Officials have suggested they are suspected hitmen and that the masterminds behind the murder are still at large.

Aymani Dadayeva, Mr Dadayev’s mother, told Russian media that her son served for ten years in the “North” battalion in Chechnya, an interior ministry unit headed by relatives of Ramzan Kadyrov, the republic’s fiercely pro-Putin leader.

A press release from Mr Kadyrov’s press service shows that a Zaur Dadayev serving in interior ministry forces in Chechnya was awarded with a medal issued by Dmitry Medvedev, Russia’s then president, in 2010. It was unclear if it was the same man and Mr Kadyrov, who frequently accuses Russian opposition figures of being agents of Western intelligence services, has yet to comment on the detentions.

LifeNews, a tabloid news website with links to Russian police and security services, said that Mr Gubashev was a security guard at a supermarket in Moscow region. The site published video footage of the home he shared with his brother in Odintsovo district near Moscow, and of the two men during a recent visit to their grandmother in Ingushetia.

Albert Barakhayev, a senor security official in Ingushetia, told Russian news agencies that the two suspects were detained in the republic. He said that Mr Gubashev’s brother had also been taken into custody. LifeNews said the brother was a truck driver.

In televised comments, Mrs Dadayeva said she believed her son was innocent. “Please understand correctly,” she said. “He served honourably and very bravely in the army of the Chechen Republic, for Russia. Please find the killer. This is a mistake, a very big mistake. He could not have done this.”

Zurpan Gubasheva, Mr Gubashev’s mother, said she would “never believe” that her sons were guilty. “They were never aggressive, they never took anything from anybody,” she told LifeNews. “When we needed to kill a chicken we had to ask the neighbours.”

Ilya Yashin, an opposition activist and friend of Mr Nemtsov, said on Saturday that it was too early to judge whether the detention of the suspects was a significant development in the investigation. He urged investigators to find those who ordered the killing.


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