As John Kerry travels to Moscow to meet with Vladimir Putin to discuss Syria and the Ukraine, Putin’s cover-up “investigation” into those responsible for Boris Nemtsov’s assassination on February 27, 2015 is reaching its dénoument.
See Carol Morello, “Kerry to ask for Putin’s help in Syrian negotiations,” Washington Post, December 14, 2015 (10:21 a.m.).
The intellectual author(s) of the execution of the leading opposition leader in Russia are not likely to ever be officially identified, as the “investigation” into Nemtsov’s murder draws to a close.
The trail leads directly to Ramzan Kadyrov, the strongman of Chechnya, who may well be the key figure directly responsible for the assassination. Whether he was acting on the orders or with the knowing acquiescence of Vladimir Putin may never be known.
Kadyrov rules in Chechnya as a virtual dictator, with the strong backing of Valadimir Putin. He has been able to block the entry of Russian investigators and other officials into his fiefdom. Shortly after the assassination of Nemtsov, he swore a feudal oath of eternal personal loyalty to Putin.
The Russian president himself disappeared from public view for some 10 days following the Nemtsov assassination, amid rumors that there were rumblings in the Russian intellegence services.
Those arrested as the tirggermen in the assassination were officials from a special unit of the Chechnyan security forces (the “Sever” or North unit) which had unusually close personal ties to Kadyrov. The man charged as the leader, who made an immediate confession, later recanted charging that it had been extracted by torture.
The details of the investigations and the names of those involved are contained in a report by Julia Smirnova, Die Welt’s award-winning correspondent in Moscow.
Julia Smirnova (Moskau), “Warum ist es so schwer, Nemzows Mörder zu finden? Die Ermittlungen im Fall Boris Nemzow stehen kurz vor dem Abschluss. Viele Spuren führen nach Tschetschenien – doch es gilt als unwahrscheinlich, dass die Drahtzieher hinter dem Mord belangt werden,” Die Welt, 14. Dezember 2015 (16:28 Uhr).
In reading her account, it is useful to bear in mind that she is in Russia, reporting from Moscow, and as a result limited in significant regard in what she can say. That said, she has been perhaps the most courageous Western correspondent reporting on Putin and Russia from within the country, on issues ranging from the Crimea to the war in the eastern Ukraine, to the assassination of Boris Netmsov.
The night he was murdered Nemtsov posed an unusually grave threat to Vladimir Putin, as he had gathered testimony from Russian soldiers regarding their involvement in the war in the eastern Ukraine, and was putting the final touches on a report that would make his evidence public in the coming days. Such a detailed and substantiated report might have pierced Putin’s propaganda bubble in which he steadfastly maintained that no Russian troops were in the Donbass.
Hours before he was assassinated, Nemtsov made a lengthy appearance on the Moscow Echo radio station in which he outspokenly attacked Putin.
It is certainly possible that Putin, in a fit of rage, then ordered his assassination, using Kadyrov to carry it out. Whether that was the case we are not likely to learn so long as Putin remains in power.
“REPRISE: After disappearing act, Vladimir Putin remains prime suspect in Nemtsov assassination,” The Trenchant Observer, March 19, 2015, and the links to articles it contains.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, as he travels to Moscow to meet with Putin on Syria, ISIS and the Ukraine, would do well to bear in mind that he will be speaking to a man who may be the person who ordered Boris Nemtsov’s assassination, and who in any event is clearly responsible for the cover-up which has prevented investigations to proceed to uncover who was in fact responsible for the execution, only hundreds of yards from the gates of the Kremlin.
Smirnova’s report in Die Welt includes a photograph showing just how close the bridge on which Nemtsov was killed is to the Kremlin walls. It strains credulity to think that the assassination might have been carried out without Putin’s authorization.
The Trenchant Observer