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Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.
The previous issue is here.
Recent Analysis and Translations:
– Russian Elections Round-Up: Parnas List Accepted; Party of Pensioners Forced to Remove Candidates
– âWhat Would Boris Do?â Opposition Struggles with In-Fighting on Eve of September Elections
– NATO Got Nothing From Conceding To Russia In the Past, Why Should It Cave To The Kremlin Now?
– Who is Hacking the Russian Opposition and State Media Officials — and How?
Because the defendants were members of the Sever [North] Battalion of the Chechen Interior Ministry Internal Troops, it was decided to try them in a military court .
The defendants are Zaur Dadayev, said to be the triggerman; the brothers Shadid Gubashev and Anzor Gubashev; Temirlan Eskerkhanov; and Khamzat Bakhayev. They are accused of serving as hired killers in an organized group for a sum of at least 15 million rubles ($227,093), and of unlawful acquisition, carrying, transport and possession of firearms.
According to investigators, Ruslan Mukhudinov, the driver of the commander of the Sever Battalion, Ruslan Geremeyev, was the organizer of the murder and is still at large.
Vladimir Markin, spokesman for the Investigative Committee which completed the investigation in June, said Mukhudinov had made the offer to the contract killers in September 2014 — which means that theories about motivations specifically related to Nemtsov’s Facebook comments of concern about Kadyrov’s “personal army” in December 2014, or alleged anger over the Charlie Hebdo journalists who were killed by terrorists in January 2015, have no merit, although Nemtsov’s earlier formal petition regarding Kadyrov’s army could have been a motive.
Theories about Possible Perpetrators of the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
As can be expected, there is a wide range of theories now being published and discussed about the possible forces behind the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down February 27, two days before he was to lead a protest march against the Russian government's war on Ukraine and its anti-crisis measures.
How Boris Nemtsov Was Murdered: Novaya Gazeta's Investigation
A number of different scenarios for how opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was assassinated on February 27, 2015 have been published in both the independent and pro-Kremlin Russian media this past year, notably by RosBalt, Novaya Gazeta, Moskovsky Komsomolets and REN-TV.
The request for a jury trial was evidently granted, although there have been conflicting reports about this.
The news agency Moskva reported that the press secretary of the Moscow District Military Court announced that the jury would be selected in August.
Translation: The selection of the collegium of the jury members in the case of the murder of Nemtsov will begin August 24.
Supporters maintained a vigil on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, where Nemtsov was murdered, and where an unofficial memorial has been maintained — and constantly removed by pro-regime supporters or police.
Translation: Nemtsov Bridge
Nemtsov’s family wanted the murder case to be classified as “for political motives,” which would carry a sentence of a minimum of 12 years of prison, but investigators earlier declined this request and characterized the murder as “for mercenary motives,” which carries a minimum of 8 years.
It’s still possible that the murder may be re-classified during the trial says Vadim Prokhorov, the family’s attorney.
Translation: “Geremeyev is involved with civic affairs in Chechnya.”
According to a source familiar with the situation, Geremeyev had decided to leave the battalion in September 2014 and moved to Moscow. Said the source:
“Actually in early 2015, he was getting settled in the capital before his planned resignation, and then his name ‘surfaced’ in connection with the murder of Nemtsov.”
Geremeyev used up all his vacation time, and then resigned, said the source, and his departure was not connected to Nemtsov’s murder. A law-enforcement source confirmed his resignation, said Rosbalt. According to this source, Mukhudinov is in Chechnya currently, although he had left several times, and does not appear in public places.
As with the trials of other high-profile persons murdered in Russia, such as journalist Anna Politkovskaya, there seems little likelihood that the real masterminds of the assassination will be revealed and prosecuted.
Russia This Week: Remembering Boris Nemtsov, Insider and Outsider (1959-2015)
In Russia This Week , you will find links to the stories of Russia Update in the last week and to special features, plus an article following up on the news and trending topics below. Last issue: Ultranationalists Angry over 'Capitulation' of Minsk Agreement This Week's Top Stories: – Are Sanctions Against Russia Working to Stop the War in Ukraine?
FB said that the concept of “hate speech” is quite vague, and they are constantly working on improving it. They said moderators could be mistaken, and that their personal views might affect their assessment, given that criteria is “imperfect.”
They also look at context, so that a sentence like “I was just walking along the street and some lady called me a whore,” would not lead to a ban because it’s not directed speech. Yet Volkov says it is exactly these types of statements that are leading to bans.
“They [the Facebook staff] understand that under the conditions of the high politicization of Russian-language FB and the constant aggressive clash of views on it, and also under the conditions of the work of state-sponsored troll farms, the situation requires special attention and correction. The story of bans for formal reasons as a result of reports on posts made two years ago is unacceptable and FB will change its policy such as to not permit this to happen again.”
Specifially, Zharov noted cases of those who had used the word khokhol, a pejorative word for Ukrainians, and had been banned. He said even when prominent blogger Maksim Kononenko quoted a poem by Alexander Pushkin with this archaic word, they were banned. He expressed the view that automatic algorithms were at work.
“I believe that in this case not people, but bots are working,” he said, adding that he had raised the issue of the bans directly with FB officials.
“I can say that the companies listed are taking practical steps to localize data bases on the territory of Russia. We are satisfied with the pace of their actions. We do not intent to act drastically or without thought. We understand perfect well that the users of these social networks are millions of our citizens. Ongoing dialogue with these companies enables us to surmise that sooner or later the demands of Russian law will be met in full measure by each one of these companies.”
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The ruble is trading at 67.06 to the dollar and 74.38 to the euro. Brent crude is $42.34 per barrel.
The following headlines are taken from Novaya Gazeta, Gazeta, Meduza, Kommersant, RosBalt, and Caucasian Knot.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick