Guest post from our Russian correspondent, Mikhail Svetov
Two weeks ago Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was brutally murdered mere metres away from the Kremlin.
Anyone who’s been involved in political activism in Russia knows that if you try as much as spreading a banner in front of the Kremlin, you will be apprehended in a matter of seconds by the Federal Security Service, Putin’s personal guard. However it took police 15 minutes to arrive at a murder scene that is literally 1 minute walk away from the Kremlin. The killers got away and the murder scene washed mere hours after the assassination took place.
The area around the Kremlin is absolutely littered with CCTV cameras. At least 7 cameras directly face the murder scene.
There are literally several CCTV cameras on every street light. All were reported broken at the time of Nemtsov’s murder. Instead, the only CCTV footage that was released is from a camera 2 miles away, and the moment of murder is conveniently blocked by a snow clearing truck.
There was no snow in Moscow that day.
The gentleman on the right is Zaur Dadaev, one of two men recently arrested in connection with Boris Nemtsov’s murder. Dadaev is a senior officer in the police force of Chechnya and a close ally of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Another suspect conveniently died in a bomb explosions few days after the murder.
And on the left is his brother Adam Delimkhanov (on the left) posing with the head of the Chechen Republic Ramzan Kadyrov (on the right). Ramzan Kadyrov is a fan of Putin's and is widely believed to be a man who ordered the assassination of Boris Nemtsov.
On the day of Dadaev’s arrest, Chechen head Ramzan Kadyrov published a lengthy praise to Dadaev on his Instagram (Kadyrov’s social network of choice), describing him as "a true patriot of Russia" and "one of the bravest and worthiest soldiers of his regiment".
Of course, a few days after Kadyrov praised the alleged murderer, Vladimir Putin had to personally award Kadyrov with the Order of Honour, one of Russia’s highest state awards. This too came to the public’s attention after Ramzan Kadyrov posted a photo of the ceremony on his Instagram. On the same day another high-profile Russian assassin Andrey Lugovoy received a similar award from Putin. 7 years ago he poisoned Alexander Litvinenko, another staunch critic of Putin, with polonium in London.
Why does this matter?
Boris Nemtsov is the latest victim in what is a series of political assassinations in Russia:
And Ramzan Kadyrov has been Putin’s to-go person for years when he needed someone eliminated. Most famously, he’s been involved in the murder of Russian investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya. However, Nemtsov’s is the highest profile murder to date, and the first time since Stalin’s Great Purge that a former deputy prime minister has been killed.
The official propaganda ties the killing of Boris Nemtsov to Charlie Hebdo, but Nemtsov's friends and colleagues universally believe that Islamist motive is a nonsense. Nemtsov’s stance on the Charlie Hebdo attack was mellow even when compared to the Russia’s official position. Furthermore, Dadaev’s mother herself recently stated that her son "was not" a strong believer to be motivated by religion.
However, Nemtsov did author several damaging reports alleging massive corruption in preparation for the Sochi Winter Olympics and other grand projects, exposing Putin’s direct involvement in all of them. And he was working on another explosive essay which would expose the role played by the regular Russian army in rebel-held Donbas, Ukraine.
He was also pushing European and US governments to further expand individual sanctions against some of Putin’s most corrupt officials, a matter not taken lightly by his inner circle.
Nemtsov was certainly afraid. A few weeks before his murder he said in an interview that he was afraid Putin will kill him.
As a critic in Putin's Russia, he was right to be afraid.
Mikhail Svetov has been a member of the Libertarian Party of Russia since 2010.