Russia Update: Sources Say Nemtsov Murder Suspects Caught on Tape Following Him

July 7, 2015
Bosco cafe on Red Square. Suspects were said to be caught on tape looking in the window at Boris Nemtsov before the murder. Photo by

Sources in Russian law-enforcement told that surveillance video tapes show the suspects in the murder of Boris Nemtsov were trailing him in November 2014 and on the night of his murder.

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.

Special features:

‘I Was on Active Duty’: Interview with Captured GRU Officer Aleksandrov
Meet The Russian Fighters Building A Base Between Mariupol And Donetsk
‘There Was No Buk in Our Field’
With Cash and Conspiracy Theories, Russian Orthodox Philanthropist Malofeyev is Useful to the Kremlin

Russia This Week:

Is ‘Novorossiya’ Really Dead?
From Medal of Valor to Ubiquitous Propaganda Symbol: the History of the St. George Ribbon
What Happened to the Slow-Moving Coup?
Can We Be Satisfied with the Theory That Kadyrov Killed Nemtsov?
All the Strange Things Going On in Moscow

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Draft Law in Russian Parliament Will Give FSB More Powers to Shoot Demonstrators

The Federal Security Service (FSB) may catch up to the police in gaining new powers, reported.

Last month, the Russian parliament drafted a bill broadening police powers and giving them “presumption of trust,” reported:

“The state guarantees police officers who perform their professional
duties a presumption of trust and support,” the document reads.
According to explanations attached to the draft its main purpose is to
boost the authority of the Interior Ministry.

innovation is the suggestion not to prosecute police officers for any
action committed while on duty if they strictly follow the internal
regulations. According to the authors of the draft this move would
balance the existing norm according to which when a police officer
commits a crime on duty the court considers this an aggravating

The bill also gives the police more powers in
the use of firearms – currently Russian police are not allowed to open
fire on women or use their guns in places of mass gatherings of people.
The proposed amendments would narrow the banned targets to women “with
visible pregnancy features” and allow opening fire in crowded places
when it is necessary for prevention of a hostage-taking or a terrorist

If passed, the bill would also allow the police to
search people and their vehicles on simple suspicion of carrying or
transporting illegal items instead of the current norm that orders the
police to present the grounds behind such suspicion. Law enforcers would
also receive the right to break into homes when pursuing criminals on a
hot trail, without a court warrant on a suspect in the crime. 

Now an amendment to the Law on the FSB submitted by three
conservative members of parliament will increase the powers of  FSB
agents to use weapons and “special means” based on their “assessment of
the current situation.” Viktor Ozerov, head of the Federation Council Committee on Defense,
and his first deputy, Viktor Fedoryak, as well as Vladimir Dzhabarov,
first deputy chair of the committee on international affairs, co-authored
the draft amendment, which they showed to Kommersant. It was prepared
on the basis of “monitoring the application” of laws and was
“coordinated with the FSB leadership” and “found understanding with
them,” they said.

The amended law would allow officers of
“special” or intelligence agencies to use weapons and “special means”
(such as tear gas) by “taking account of the situation at hand.” The FSB
officers are obliged to warn the people they intend to shoot at, but
they are also entitled not to do that if “delay” would cause “threat to
life and health” both to citizens and FSB agents themselves.

Asked if he didn’t fear that such expanded powers might lead to abuse, Ozerov replied:

there are subjective aspects but you can’t ask your commander [for
permission to shoot–Kommersant] each time. We proceed from the fact
that FSB agents should be psychologically prepared. They have a
forewarning in their minds: I am violating federal law.”

cases where weapons, special means and physical force can be used are
listed, such as “mass disorders” or “if a driver refuses to stop
after repeated demands.” Previously, this was governed by regulations
issued by the FSB director, but as a result, each time FSB agents used
forced, the incident would need to be reviewed, and sometimes this would reach the level
of a court case. Now, there is a proposal to write into the law that
special agents are not liable “for harm caused to persons or
organizations” when they use weapons, if they are “acting in accordance
with the law.”

The law does forbid FSB and other special agents
to “shoot to kill,” that is, they are only supposed to stop their
suspects. They also can’t shoot at women, minors and disabled persons
even if they show resistance. Here the FSB draft amendment differs than
the law on the police, which allows Interior Ministry officers to shoot
to kill even women, except for those “with obvious signs of pregnancy.”

Khinshtein, a deputy from United Russia said they didn’t coordinate
work on the separate police and FSB drafts although “from outside it may
look like a synchronized movement.”

The FSB has obtained
greater powers in the past to conduct searches of people, their
belongings and their vehicles if there were grounds for suspicion, even
for administrative offenses. The Council of Europe’s Vienna Commission,
which provides consultation on compliance of laws of member states with
its standards urged Russia to “create mechanisms to prevent police abuse
and to create an agency that would prevent such “political abuses”.

Paul Goble’s column notes today, given the Kremlin’s claim that Putin
has approval from 89% of the population — his highest rating yet — why
is the government preparing for putting down mass unrest?

As Nezavisimaya Gazeta wrote in an editorial (translation by The Interpreter):

The amendments to the law — that is as a rule, a reaction to actual
events. If the representatives of the political establishment thought
about how the use of weapons by the FSB needs a more grounded and
detailed legal base, that means that protests and mass disorders in
Russia are not only possible, they are the real order of the day. At any
rate, the government is expecting them, and as a minimum, not ruling
them out.

The Kremlin has been fearful of Ukraine’s Maidan protests spreading
to their country, but by over-anticipating it, they may help bring it

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Sources Say Nemtsov Murder Suspects Caught on Tape Following Him in November and on Night of Murder
A witness who was brought for a face-to-face encounter by investigators said that Zaur Dadayev, the chief suspect in the murder of Boris Nemtsov was planning to kill him as long ago as November 2014, reports, citing a source in law-enforcement. Two suspects were also seen trailing him outside a restaurant on Red Square right before he was killed.

Translation: A witness indicated that the murder of Nemtsov was prepared back in November 2014.

Nemtsov was assassinated outside the Kremlin walls on February 27, 2015,
and earlier leaks from the investigation said that the suspects showed
up on surveillance cameras in October 2014 near Nemtsov’s home.

a witness who identified Dadayev says he was the man he met in November
2014, well before the January 7, 2015 terrorist killings of the Charlie
Hebdo journalists, and said he was “preparing some sort of serious

If confirmed, says the law-enforcement source, this testimony could make the
investigation’s theory “disappear,” according to which the Chechens murdered Nemtsov over anger at
his defense of “Je Suis Charlie” demonstrations which he wrote about on
his Facebook page
at the time.

The new testimonies of witnesses as well as evidence gathered may be replaced
with another, that the murderers were angry at Nemtsov’s general liberal
opposition views, said the source.

Investigators also said that they have a surveillance video tape showing Dadayev following Nemtsov near the Kremlin before his murder (translation by The Interpreter):

As a source in law-enforcement agencies told Rosbalt,
videotapes obtained by the investigation (the source did not stay which
organization owned the surveillance cameras) show how on February 27,
2015, two suspects in the case are walking along Red Square, looking
into windows in GUM [the shopping center]. They they stop at the window
of a cafe where at that moment Boris Nemtsov and Anna Duritskaya; they
press their faces to the glass and clearly find what they are looking

“The quality of the tapes enables us to identify the faces of the perpetrators,” said the source.

Previously the investigation said they had testimony about one suspect trailing Nemtsov and a second one phoning the assassination team to go into motion.

believes that “Rusik,” who was described in testimony published earlier
this week as Ruslan Mukhudinov,
driver for Ruslan Geremeyev, is

was last seen on March 6 in the Shelkovsky District of Chechnya after
Dadayev had already been detained in neighboring Ingushetia. Authorities
went looking for him in his native town but he was never found. Later
they received reports that he was dead, but as Kommersant pointed out,
his relatives never held a funeral.

Sources within
law-enforcement told Rosbalt that Mukhudinov’s disappearance and
presumed death were like that of the murder of Ruslan Yamadayev, who was
shot near the Kremlin in 2008. His brother, Sulim Yamadayev, a Chechen
rebel commander who switched sides in the First Chechen War and was the
former commander of the Vostok Special Battalion of the GRU, vowed
revenge. Then he himself was shot dead in Dubai in 2009, and believed to
have been targeted by Ramzan Kadyrov, his rival.
Adam Delikhanov, a senator and cousin of Kadyrov’s was accused of
masterminding the murder — just as he is of Nemtsov’s murder.

It’s important to note that no official public statement on the Nemtsov murder investigation has been made since March. Every story published by either state or independent media has been based on leaks by law-enforcers from or near the investigation, and they have been contradictory.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick