Russian security officials have detained four men, all reportedly Chechens, on suspicion of the murder on February 27 in Moscow of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
A fifth suspect killed himself in Grozny late on March 7 by detonating a hand grenade when police tried to force their way into the apartment in which he was holed up, according to Chechen police sources.
The four surviving suspects are:
- Anzor Gubashev, said to have worked until recently as a guard at a supermarket in the vicinity of Moscow.
- His younger brother Shagid Gubashev, also based in Moscow.
- Zaur Dadayev, who has served for 10 years in the “North” battalion that was initially subordinate to the Russian Interior Ministry Internal Troops and is now part of Chechnya’s elite Akhmad-hadji Kadyrov special motorized regiment. He is said to have been decorated by Russian President Vladimir Putin with the Order of Valor.
- Rustam Yusupov, also a member of the “North” battalion.
The Gubashev brothers and Dadayev are said to be distant cousins whose families left the southern Itum-Kale district of the then Checheno-Ingush ASSR in the 1960s for Malgobek in the present-day Republic of Ingushetia. Relatives say Anzor Gubbashev has not lived permanently in Ingushetia for 10 years.
Anzor Gubashev and Dadayev are said to have killed Nemtsov, one of them firing the four shots that killed him and the other driving the getaway car. That vehicle, a white Lada Priorat with Republic of Ingushetia license plates, was later found abandoned in Moscow. Police said they were confident the owner had no connection to the murder. The precise role of the other two suspects is not clear.
Anzor Gubashev is said to have left Moscow for Chechnya on March 2 and then travelled with Dadayev to Ingushetia, where the two were taken into custody. Acting Republic of Ingushetia Security Council Secretary Albert Barakhayev says Gubashev was apprehended on March 6 in Malgobek and Dadayev the following day in Nazran.
Later on March 7, it was announced that Yusupov was traveling in Dadayev’s car when the latter was apprehended. When Shagid Gubashev was detained is unclear.
Anzor Gubashev and Dadayev are to appear in court in Moscow later today.
Commenting on the news of the detentions, Ingush human rights activist Magomed Mutsolgov told Caucasian Knot that if the four men’s responsibility for Nemtsov’s death is confirmed, it would be a serious blow to the prestige of the Chechen leadership.
Chechen Republic head Ramzan Kadyrov is on record as declaring that “there can be no doubt” that Western intelligence services were behind Nemtsov’s murder.
-- Liz Fuller