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Published On: Fri, Jul 14th, 2017

Prison sentences in Nemtsov murder case based on unsubstantiated evidence: Kadyrov

nsnbc : Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of the Russian Federation’s Chechen Republic, and Moscow’s “moderate Islamist” in Chechnya, told reporters on Thursday that prison sentences handed down the convicted murderers of the late politician Boris Nemtsov  were “strange and based on unsubstantiated evidence.”

The Kremlin's "moderate Islamist" in Chechnya.

The Kremlin’s “moderate Islamist” in Chechnya.

Kadyrov, a.k.a. Putin’s bearded man from Chechenia, is no stranger to controversy and no stranger to the intricate interplay between “terrorism” and security services either. On Thursday, a Moscow court sentenced Zaur Dadayev to 20 years in prison while accomplices to the murder received between 11 and 19 years in prison.

The Chechen men were, according to investigators and the court, offered 15 million rubles ($250,000) for the contract killing of the Russian opposition leader. In an address to Interior Ministry commanders, Kadyrov also said an “informational and ideological” war was being waged against the republic of Chechenia.

Kadyrov, who among others attracted attention for denigrating comments on lesbian and gays and attempts to crack down on them in Chechnya said “I am convinced that a purposeful, well-funded information and ideological war is being waged against Chechnya and its people.”

Kadyrov claimed the attack was rooted in the West’s intent to destroy Chechen identity. “They don’t like it when we promote a healthy lifestyle, when we encourage young people to build their lives based on faith and national interests. They want our people to fall as low as possible and never rise,” Kadyrov said.

Nemtsov_Moscow_Russia_Feb 28, 2015_NEONemtsov, an outspoken reformer, was among Russia’s most prominent opposition politicians. He served as a Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin and was a staunch critic of President Vladimir Putin. He was shot dead as he walked home across Moscow’s Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in February 2015.

Evidence against the accused was indeed weak and questionable, but that had absolutely nothing to do with the homophobia of the Kremlin’s “moderate Islamist” in Chechnya. On June 29, 2017 a Russian military court, found Zaur Dadayev, Temirlan Eskerhanov, Khamzat Bakhaev and brothers Anzor and Shagid Gubashev guilty og involvement in the murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Boris Nemtsov was gunned down in the center of the Russian capital Moscow in February 2015. The five were charged in the murder case in December 2015. A sixths suspect, Beslan Shavanov – according to investigative authorities – killed himself with a grenade while resisting arrest.

Zaur Dadaev_MOscow_March 2015_Moscow_RussiaThe Court established that the men had been offered 15 million rubles – the equivalent to about $240,000 – each. The case was not only “explosive” because it involved the murder of a prominent opposition figure, but because it involved Chechens – and in particular Chechens with links to security services.

Zaur Dadaev, a former officer in the Chechen security forces, was found to have shot Boris Nemtsov in the back on Feb 27, 2015 as he crossed the Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in central Moscow, only a few hundred meters from the Kremlin.

The Gubashev brothers and Eskerkhanov traced Nemtov’s movements prior to the killing, while Bakhayev provided information and helped the group to hide after the murder, the court established.

But the links to “Chechen security” don’t end with Dadaev and friends. Prosecutors are currently investigating Ruslan Mukhudinov, a low-ranking officer in the Chechen security services, for ordering the hit. Mukhudinov has been wanted internationally since November 2015.

Moreover, the family of the late Boris Nemtsov  protests about the fact that the investigation and the court case has focused on low-level operatives only. The family insists that higher-ranking officials were also, and also had to be involved.

Making the trial and the verdict even more controversial is the fact that Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev, who previously admitted to the murder, in April 2017 claimed that interrogators used coercion to obtain video-recorded confessions. During a previously-released on camera deposition Gubachev explained the motives for assassinating Nemtsov saying, among others:

“We didn’t like his remarks about our state and our ruler. Then he started talking about the Prophet Mohammed. No one has the right to talk about Him — least of all Nemtsov, that scumbag.”

Video courtesy Novaya Gazeta

Gubachev’s on-camera deposition was published by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta. The deposition was recorded on March 19, 2015. It is worth noting that Gubachev’s somewhat blurred voice and speech patterns, although they don’t reveal deception, are indicative of a person who is under the influence of drugs such as relatively high doses of Benzodiazepines, opioids or drugs that produce similar cognitive effects.

The newspaper also released another on-camera deposition by Zaur Dadayev in which he describes how he and two friends had tailed Boris Nemtsov before they assassinated him on the night of February 27, 2015, in central Moscow, not far from the Kremlin. In his deposition Dadayev admitted that it was him who fired the six shots that killed Boris Nemtsov. In the deposition Dadayev claimed among others “We were proud that we got the chance to stand up for our Prophet.”

Video courtesy Novaya Gazeta

Zadayev handled by Russian "security forces"

Zadayev handled by Russian “security forces”

However, both Gubachev and Dadayev later changed their statement, claiming innocence, and stressing that coercion was used to obtain the on-camera confessions. In April 2017 Dadayev, a former member of Sever, the personal guard battalion of Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, said “I didn’t shoot Nemtsov. .. I don’t even know Nemtsov.”

Following the assassination of Boris Nemtsov Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) investigated the case “vigorously” under the leadership of FSB chief Alexander Bortnikov, who reported personally to President Putin. Dadayev and Bubachev were arrested within days.

While there have been some allegations that “Putin and Kadyrov” were involved, others would claim the involvement of circles around Nemtsov, or even foreign agencies whose countries could benefit from a deteriorations between the Kremlin and Chechnya.

Both Putin and Kadyrov, for their parts stressed that they were deeply d saddened by the assassination – and so did leaders from around the world.

Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov's family protests. Putin and Kadyrov say they are "deeply saddened".

Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov’s family protests. Putin and Kadyrov say they are “deeply saddened”.

The strongest publicly known link between Kadyrov (according to some by implication also Putin) and the assassination is the fact that Dadayev is a former member of Kadyrov’s Chechen presidential guard.

Then again, this “link” provides vague circumstantial evidence only, and Dadayev would not be the first member of a “personal protection unit” to turn to crime or even to assassinating the political leader the unit is supposed to protect.

The trial was an explosive and highly sensitive issue. “Good relations” between Moscow and Chechnya are vital for the Russian Federation’s national security, especially considering that Chechnya and other Caucasian republics are plagued by radicalized Muslims who “join the men in the forest” or take abroad to fight alongside Islamist insurgents in Syria, Iraq, and elsewhere.

CH/L – nsnbc 14.07.2017

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