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Two Charged In Nemtsov Killing

  • RFE/RL

Two men have been charged with involvement in the murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, as the five suspects in the case appeared in a Moscow court.

Anna Fadeyeva, spokeswoman for the Basmanny district court, said Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev were charged with "the murder of Boris Nemtsov, and three others are still suspects."

Russian news agencies quoted judge Natalya Mushnikova as saying Dadayev had admitted to investigators that he was involved in the killing.

But Dadayev did not admit guilt in the courtroom, according to state-run and independent news agencies in Russia. The other suspect who was charged, Anzor Gubashev, denied guilt.

The court ordered that the five men -- all from Russia's volatile North Caucasus -- will be held in custody until April 28.

The court also ruled that the other three suspects be kept in custody but there were no immediate charges. The three were Anzor Gubashev's brother, Shagid, and Ramzan Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov.

Bakhayev and Esterkhanov are reportedly related to Dadayev.

Officials said that Dadayev and the Gubashevs were arrested in Ingushetia on March 7, and the other two in suburban Moscow in the early hours of March 8.

Separately, Russia's Interfax news agency quoted a Chechen law enforcement source as saying a man killed in a standoff with police in the Chechen capital Grozny late on March 7 had also been wanted by police in connection with Nemtsov's killing.

When police arrived at an apartment block, the man threw one grenade at officers and then blew himself up with a second, Interfax said.

Law enforcement officials have asserted the guilt of all five, but have not released any details of how they allegedly were involved in the killing of Nemtsov.

RIA Novosti reported that Dadayev was a deputy commander for a battalion attached to the Chechen Interior Ministry while Gubashev worked for a private security company in Moscow. They were both detained on March 7.

Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov said on Instagram that he knew Dadayev as a "true patriot of Russia" and a "deeply religious man" who was shocked by the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Kadyrov did not take a position on his guilt. He said that Dadayev "could not take a step against Russia" because he risked his own life for the country.

Shot In The Back

The arrests come a little over a week after Nemtsov, a long-time critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot four times in the back on February 27 as he walked with his girlfriend along a bridge just meters from the Kremlin.

Russia's Investigative Committee had suggested Islamic extremism as a possible motive for Nemtsov's killing.

The committee said it had evidence that Nemtsov had received threats "in connection with his position" on the attack by Islamist militants on the offices of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.

Kremlin critics, however, have said such a motive is "farfetched."

The brazen assassination sent shockwaves through the country's opposition and prompted an outpouring of international condemnation.

Investigators have suggested the killers wanted to destabilize Russia, which is facing its worst standoff with the West since the Cold War over Ukraine.

But they were also probing the possibility he was assassinated for criticizing Russia's role in the Ukraine conflict or his condemnation of January's killings at the Charlie Hebdo satirical weekly in Paris by Islamist gunmen.

The head of Russia's Presidential Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, told Interfax it is important that those who ordered and organized Nemtsov's killing be brought to justice, as well as those who carried out the crime.

Interfax quoted a lawyer for Nemtsov's girlfriend Anna Durytska, who was with him when he was killed, as saying Durytska may be summoned from Ukraine for further questioning in light of the detentions.

Based on reporting by Reuters, AFP and AP

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