Five suspects, still no clarity

Two more people, all of them ethnic Chechens born and reared in Ingushetia, have been detained as suspects in the Boris Nemtsov murder inquiry. A fifth suspect has reportedly blown himself up with a hand grenade in Grozny. Two of the four men have served with a Chechen special forces unit, reportedly. The other two are brothers working in the Moscow region, as a security guard and a truck driver.

Update. Yulia Latynina reports that one of the detainees – or his namesake – was awarded the Russian Order of Valor in 2010 as a sergeant of the Russian “interior troops,” a large military force to combat unrest at home, including “terrorism.”

Update. One more suspect has been arrested, apparently an ethnic Chechen as well, so five people have been detained so far.

Update. One of the detainees, the serviceman from the second paragraph, has admitted involvement. It appears that the official version of the crime will assume a religious, “Charlie Hebdo” motive.


  1. As you say, the Kremlin still has a lot of options left to exploit with this scenario. Putin could go down the “Nemtsov was killed because of Charlie Hebdo” path. In which case he might try to present Islamic extremism as a joint threat to the West and Russia and make the argument for increased unity in the face of terrorism (and let’s ignore our little differences in Ukraine…). Putin might also try to link it with the trial of the Chechen Tsarnaev in the USA. On the other hand, the moral might be “look where decadent Western free speech leads”, leading Putin to call for conservative values which protect religious sensibilities.

    Another angle is playing up Nemtsov’s Jewishness. IIRC Putin’s message to Nemtsov’s mother was odd in that it addressed her by her Jewish maiden name. Putin might be trying to attract Israeli sympathy for his cause, having noticed the stir Netanyahu caused in the USA. It could be an indirect way of undermining Obama and the Western alliance. It might also be a way of linking the killers with “Ukrainian Nazis”.

    Obviously, this is just pure speculation and I’m just trying to get into Putin’s mentality – not a nice place to be. The only thing we know for sure is that the Kremlin version will bear only a remote relationship with the truth.

    • Ramzan Kadyrov has said he knows the officer who confessed and the man is a “Russian patriot” and a deeply religious person. Kadyrov claimed the same of the suspect killed in his own flat in Grozny. The message seems to be, “a true Russian patriot and Muslim might have felt a duty to kill a man like Nemtsov.”

  2. The Kremkin has just awarded Kadyrov and Lugovoi medals. Putin’s sending out an obvious message there.

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