The “Medal of Honor” Killing

In my previous blog post today, I half-jokingly wrote that one of the possible identifies of the suspected killer of Boris Nemtsov, detained by FSB, is that of a Chechen sergeant who, in 2010, was awarded a Presidential medal of honor for

“extraordinary valiance shown in operations in the North Caucuses”.

When I had discovered the apparent overlap of names this morning, I tweeted, again half-jokingly:

Well, now it appears that the brave medal-bearer is indeed the alleged killer. At least that what appears from an interview given to Interfax by the mother of the detained Zaur Dadaev. In it, she expresses disbelief that her son (and his two cousins, apparently) have been charged with the murder, and refers to his

10-year military service in Battalion North, а Chechen army unit under the direct control of Ramzan Kadyrov.

As I reported earlier, in October 2010 Zaur Dadaev, then a sergeant in the 46th special interior operations brigade, was awarded an Order of Valiance by the Russian President (then Dmitriy Medvedev, and not Putin as incorrectly reported by some media). I found this information on the Chechen government server this morning, but shortly after that, as Kavkaz Center reports, it was deleted from the site, only to be re-published several hours later.

The 46th Brigade includes two battalions, “Battalion North” and Battalion South”. It was namely in the former that Dadaev’s mother says he served.

Battalion North has a controversial history. Russian spetznaz complained inБатальон "Север" Комплектовался из бывших боевиков 2010 that its soldiers were playing double whammy and, while fighting on the side of Russia, were leaking positions of ethnically Russian servicemen to the separatist fighters, resulting in high casualties. А Moskosky Komsomolets article from July 2010 claims the composition of the battalion was conducive for treason, given that it was mainly made up of former separatists and Jihadists. Ramzan Kadyrov personally stood up in defense of the battalion, saying all allegations were unfounded and its members were heroes. It is very likely that his personal intervention brought about Medvedev’s decree which bestowed the high military honors to several of this battalion’s members, including the now-alleged killer of Boris Nemtsov.

What does this mean? One possibility is that, as I (again, half-jokingly wrote last week), Ramzan Kadyrov initiated the hit on Nemtsov, tired of waiting for his pussy-cat boss to do it.  Another possibility, although less likely, is that the Kremlin engineered the story so that the blame can be cast on Kadyrov, who has become increasingly embarrassing to Putin with his outlandish – even for Russian’s bizzaro-land standards – actions, statements, and lifestyle.

It appears that the next couple of days will give us the answer to which of the two scenarios we are looking at.

P.S. If this Zaur Dadaev turns out to be a different one than the Jihadist that I wrote about in the previous blog post, this does mean that Russia is a failed state where someone can openly operate a terrorist website, murder threats, Osama quotes and all, for years without being noticed by the authorities. I still have my serious doubts that this is possible, even in Russia.

Read my follow-up: The Writing on the VK Wall

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