As per a statement issued by the Russian authorities on Sunday, one of the two men taken into custody over the killing of Boris Nemtsov had been a former senior policeman belonging to the Muslim region of Chechnya. The man, Zaur Dadayev, had confessed to his involvement in the assassination.
A reporter from Reuters reported that all five arrested in this connection including the two belonging to ethnic Chechens frog marched into a courtroom in Moscow on Sunday. They were all escorted by heavily armed policemen. The men were hurled into metal cages, and electronic media persons were allowed in to film them. All the five men have been ordered judicial custody by the judge Natalia Mushnikova. Ramzan Kadyrov, a Chechen leader and Putin ally, has described the arrested policemen, Dadayev, as a pious Muslim who got angered by the publication of Prophet Mohammad’s cartoons in the satirical news paper Charlie Hebdo in France. Nemtsov, being a liberal, had supported the publication of cartoons after the killing of 12 people at the Paris office of the Charlie Hebdo in January. The Russian investigators have been looking into this aspect of the killing, too. Kadyrov expressed his opinion through his writings on Instagram that Zaur being a deep believer was shocked, like other Muslims, at the publication of the cartoons and the supportive comments from certain quarters. Kadyrov further called Dadayev as a “true patriot of Russia” who had been awarded several medals for his services and performances before resigning for unknown reasons.
However, Dadayev’s involvement in the assassination of Nemtsov had been conclusively established not only by his own confession, but also the circumstantial evidences gathered in the matter, Mushnikova told the court during the hearing on Sunday. The second man taken into custody was Anzor Gubashev, and the rest three Shagid Gubashev, Ramzan Bakhayev, and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov his brothers. Investigators had earlier informed that only two men had been taken into custody. Additionally, the Interfax news agency of Russia quoted a Chechen law enforcement source to reveal that another person killed in a standoff with police late on Saturday in Grozny, the Chechen capital, had also been wanted in connection with the assassination of Nemtsov. The Interfax added that on arrival of the police at an apartment block, the man hurled a hand grenade at the police officers, and after that blew himself up with another grenade.
Nemtsov, one of the most powerful political personalities of Russia and opposition leader, had been assassinated on 27th February near the Kremlin walls just a few hours ahead of the scheduled opposition march which he was to lead. It has been the most high-profile assassination of a political personality during the 15 years of President Putin’s reign. Many associates of Nemtsov, a former prime minister and Putin critic, were of the view that the Kremlin stood to gain from his killing. However, Russian authorities has condemned the assassination, and denied involvement. Nevertheless, Nemtsov’s friends would not be satisfied till investigators tracked down the source at the behest of which the killing had been carried out.
Chechnya, the scene of violent separatist insurgencies spanning over last two decades, has now been firmly entrenched under Kadyrov, a former rebel turned loyal to Putin.