Nemtsov’s Murder: An Investigation By The Book

A few peculiarities in the way the Nemtsov investigation has progressed so far.

1. Shortly after Boris Nemtsov was murdered, the Russian Investigative Committee came up with its list of priority hypotheses about the killers’ motives. Immediately following the “sacrilegious victim” hypothesis, the investigators listed the possibility of an Islamic connection, related to Nemtsov’s criticism of the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris.

 What is odd here?

Nemtsov did indeed express condolences to the families of the murdered French cartoonists, and criticized, on his FB page, the Russian Council of Muftis for damning the magazine itself as a co-culprit for the terrorist act. However, in line with his liberal views, he never said anything remotely offensive in relation to Muslims, on his FB page or anywhere in public.

Furthermore, given that Nemtsov was not given exposure on national media, there is no reference of him ever having spoken (out of his FB page) on the matter of Charlie Hebdo. He was not even present at the anti-terrorism rally in front of the French embassy in Moscow in the wake of the Paris murders. And he was certainly less outspoken on the issue than, say, Echo of Moscow editor-in-chief Venediktov, who even toyed with the idea of publishing the original Charlie Hebdo cartoons.

Therefore, for Nemtsov to have been noticed, singled out, and meticulously murdered by offended Islamic extremists 3 months after the event, challenges credulity. For the Investigative Office to come up with this as a key hypothesis, boggles the mind.

2. The Investigative Office leaked to the media, a week after the murder, that in fact they did have photos of the suspected killers, and that they were “most likely from the southern regions of Russia”. Furthermore, its chairman said today that they had decided not to mention that they had the photos in order not to scare them prior to them being caught.

What is odd here?

In the event the authorities did have photo/video images of the killers in the most high-profile and brazen murder case in Russia this century, it would be extremely strange that they would keep these secret for more than a week after the murder. What would have been a much more standard reaction (correct me if I am wrong here), would have been to release the images to a widest possible audience, both to accelerate their capture, but also as a public service warning against – apparently – very dangerous criminals. What makes zero sense here is the investigators’ explanation for this failure:  “we did not want the scare the suspects“. But if that was their motivation, why would they publicly state that they have images, and that the persons on them are “of southern descent”? Doesn’t this completely contradict the “keep the enemy calm” story?

3. Today, the head of FSB leaked in a TV appearance that the two perpetrators of the murder have been caught.  He also leaked their names, with no further details (as of writing this). The names are: Zaur Dadaev and Anzor Gubashev. Zaur Dadaev is not a highly infrequent name combination amongst Chechen and Dagestani nationals. I did a search of plausible “candidates” to fit a killer profile, and assuming the FSB didn’t catch this Zaur Dadaev, who was awarded a medal of military honor by Pres. Medvedev in October 2010 (that would be too ironic UPDATE: YES, it turns out it WAS the one awarded with a Presidential medal of honor!! read my follow-up here), the most plausible candidate is this Zaur Dadaev – a self-acknowledged Jew-hating, Osama-bin-Laden respecting Jihadist, based in the capital of Dagestan.

What is odd here?

Well, just about everything. For those of you not familiar with Dagestan, it is a small republic in the Southern-most tip of Russia, bordering Chechnya and the Caspian Sea. Since 1990, it has been a hotbed of low-level terrorism and Islamic extremism. As such, it is probably the most carefully watched-over territory in the Russian Federation.

Here comes a guy, then, in the capital of Dagestan, who creates a profile on the Russian-based Vkontakte social network. He puts this photo as his profile page: Zaur  Dadaev (tip: the international Jihad banner)

In December 2013 (!), he  posts a quote of Osama bin Laden, with his own comment under it: “So true…

Zaur then goes on to post a series of anti-Semitic cartoons such as this. And to top it all, he posts Jihadist videos, such as this one, uploaded in December 2013. In this video, after a Jihadist sermon, where аn Islamic preacher threatens an unidentified person with the words “you will not hear my answer, you will see my adadaevnswer”,  a gun is pointed at the camera, then turns sideways and shoots. Following this, the video cuts to the funeral of Russian priest Daniel Sysoev, an Orthodox preacher who had been attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity, until he was murdered during a sermon in 2009 Moscow. His murder is still unresolved.


Now, you tell me, what are the chances that this website can exist, in terrorism-troubled Dagestan, in a paranoid, police country such as Russia, since (at the very latest) 2013, and the FSB would not (a) know about it and (b) take action against its owner?

There can be only two plausible explanations here. Either (1) Russia is a rogue state where anything can happen  – including you can run a terrorist training organization online – and no one will ever notice, or (2) this was a site that has been cultivated by the FSB for years, waiting for the moment when its “author” might come in handy. The answer may become evident in the next few days.

UPDATE: As I was writing this, the whole account of Zaur Dadaev was deleted.  Here is a link where the Jihadist video was found until a few minutes ago Below is a snapshot of the account from before it was deleted:




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