A court in Moscow has summoned the deputy commander of the Interior Ministry's Chechnya-based Sever (North) battalion, Ruslan Geremeyev, to testify as a witness in the trial of five men charged with the 2015 killing of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.
Judge Yury Zhitnikov also ruled on December 6 that Geremeyev's nephew, Artur Geremeyev, should be summoned as a witness, too.
Lawyers for Nemtsov's family believe testimony from Geremeyev could help determine who ordered Nemtsov's contract-style killing on a bridge near the Kremlin, but he has never been questioned and his whereabouts are unknown, leading lawyers to suspect he may be under e protection of Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ruslan Kadyrov.
Investigators say they believe Geremeyev's driver, Ruslan Mukhudinov, organized Nemtsov's killing. Mukhudinov's whereabouts are also unknown.
Five men from Chechnya are being tried in the case. The alleged shooter, Zaur Dadayev, is a former officer in a security force connected with Kadyrov.
Lawyers for Nemtsov's family also requested on December 6 that Kadyrov be summoned to the trial, but no decision on Kadyrov was made by the judge.
On November 28, Kadyrov said he is ready to be formally questioned regarding Nemtsov's killing if investigators summon him to Moscow.