Russia Update: Chechen Suspect in Nemtsov Murder Case May Be Tried in Military Court

June 15, 2015
Zaur Dadayev

Zaur Dadayev, the main suspect in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, was determined to have been serving in the armed forces at the time of the murder, which means he could be tried in a closed military court.

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.


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

Special features:

With Cash and Conspiracy Theories, Russian Orthodox Philanthropist Malofeyev is Useful to the Kremlin
Alexey Navalny On the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
Theories about Possible Perpetrators of the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
Novaya Gazeta Releases Sensational Kremlin Memo

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Russian Justice Ministry Blames Dynasty’s Lawyers for Failing to Understand “Foreign Agents” Law

At a meeting with the United Russia faction at the State Duma, Justice Minister Aleksandr Konovalov blamed the Dyanasty Foundation’s own lawyers for failing to understand why the foundation was entered into the “foreign agents” registry, Novaya Gazeta reported (translation by The Interpreter):

The lawyers [of the foundation] read the Russian legislation poorly and did not realize in time that funding from a foreign jurisdiction, regardless of what it is — an account, a trust, a company and so on — completely fits under the law (on foreign agents)

Dynasty was entered on the registry, which now has at least 67 organizations, last month.

Dmitry Zemin, the founder of Dynasty and a native-born Russian citizen, explained that the funds came from his own bank account abroad, not from any foreign organization. But this was not enough to satisfy the Ministry of Justice.

Zemin, a prominent businessman and philanthropist known for his support of science, made his fortune in telecommunications and remains honorary chairman of Beeline, one of the most popular mobile services in Russia.

Zemin has since left Russia, saying that he would not attempt to fight this designation. Another organization, the Liberal Mission led by economist Yasin funded by Dynasty, was also classified as a “foreign agent.”

A number of influential people have raised the case of Dynasty, as it seemed unfair to designate a fund doing work generally not recognized as “political” in any way to be stigmatized in this way. A group of businessmen who met with President Vladimir Putin recently raised the case. The Presidential Commission for Human Rights apologized for the case and said it would appeal the designation.

On June 6, scientists demonstrated in Moscow and Novosibirsk to complain about the designation, which they said could stifle innovation, reported.

But the Ministry of Justice has been unmoved.

Хороши! #москва #левтолстой #занауку #ученьеитруд #авот #православиеижизнь #хорошокогдатепло #летовгороде #классикиисовременники #шоудвойников #зиминрулит #династия

"Хороши! #москва #левтолстой #занауку #ученьеитруд #авот #православиеижизнь #хорошокогдатепло #летовгороде #классикиисовременники #шоудвойников #зиминрулит…"

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Jun 15, 2015 21:41 (GMT)

Translation of Sign: The force of the government rests on the ignorance of the people; it knows this and will therefore always fight against education. It is time for us to understand that.

#занауку #династия #митинг

"#занауку #династия #митинг"

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Jun 15, 2015 21:36 (GMT)

Translation of sign: Don’t cast a shadow over science.

Translation: Meeting of brains draining: report from today’s actions of scientists in support of Dynasty. Sign: “I demand acknowledgement of Justice Ministry’s Ignorance”.

The board of Dynasty in Russia will meet soon to determine their future.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Russia and NATO Both Up The Ante, Both Discuss Moving Arms Into Eastern Europe

Since Russia’s annexation of Crimea last March, Europe has witnessed a familiar pattern of escalating tensions, dueling military drills, aggressive Russian maneuvers in international airspace and perhaps even Russian naval incursions into the sea-spaces of its neighbors.

In recent weeks the Russian military has harassed NATO forces in Europe. A Russian jet flew within only ten feet of a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft on May 30, the same day that another Russian jet buzzed a US Navy ship which was taking part in pre-announced drills in the Black Sea.

As Russian actions are increasingly aggressive, NATO has responded by showing an increased interest in deploying its own forces to Eastern Europe to defend against possible Russian moves.

It only takes one glance at some headlines to see the latest chapter of this playing out. The New York Times and NPR report that the U.S. is considering the deployment of heavy tanks like the M1 Abrams into the Baltics, NATO’s newest members, the first time such a manuever has been undertaken since the end of the Cold War. NPR reports:

The proposal specifies enough heavy equipment to support about 150 soldiers in each of the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia) and enough for another 750 soldiers per country in Poland, Romania, Bulgaria and possibly Hungary, according to the Times. All told, the equipment could support 3,000-5,000 soldiers.

“This is just equipment — no U.S. troops will be sent with this equipment,” reports NPR’s Tom Bowman for our Newscast division. “But it does provide U.S. troops with what’s called follow-on equipment, should they want to have exercises in those countries … or if something should happen.”

If approved by Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Tom says, the equipment could flow into the region this fall. The Times notes the proposal also needs approval from President Obama and would likely encounter resistance from at least some U.S. allies.

To Counter Russia, U.S. Mulling Tanks, Heavy Guns For Eastern Europe

The Pentagon is considering a proposal to place M1 Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and armored howitzers in NATO countries in the Baltic and Eastern Europe in a bid to stem what is viewed as Russian aggression.

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Jun 15, 2015 20:25 (GMT)

Over the weekend, the Polish government said that it would also welcome a similar deployment on its territory. The Guardian reports:

The Polish defence ministry said on Sunday that Washington and Warsaw were in negotiations about the permanent stationing of US battle tanks and other heavy weaponry in Poland and other countries in the region as part of Nato’s plans to develop rapid deployment “Spearhead” forces aimed at deterring Kremlin attempts to destabilise former Soviet bloc countries now entrenched inside Nato and the EU.

Tomasz Siemoniak, the Polish defence minister, had talks on the issue at the Pentagon last month. Warsaw said on Sunday that a decision whether to station heavy US equipment at warehouses in Poland would be taken soon.

Nato’s former supreme commander in Europe, the American admiral James Stavridis, said the decision marked “a very meaningful policy shift”, amid eastern European complaints that western Europe and the US were lukewarm about security guarantees for countries on the frontline with Russia following Vladimir Putin’s seizure of parts of Ukraine.

Russia has already signaled that it will meet any planned NATO deployment in Eastern Europe with new deployments and shows of force of its own. Reuters reports:

“If heavy U.S. military equipment, including tanks, artillery batteries and other equipment really does turn up in countries in eastern Europe and the Baltics, that will be the most aggressive step by the Pentagon and NATO since the Cold War,” Russian defense ministry official General Yuri Yakubov said.

“Russia will have no option but to build up its forces and resources on the Western strategic front,” Interfax news agency quoted him as saying.

He said the Russian response was likely to include speeding up the deployment of Iskander missiles to Kaliningrad, a Russian exclave bordered by Poland and Lithuania, and beefing up Russian forces in ex-Soviet Belarus.

“Our hands are completely free to organize retaliatory steps to strengthen our Western frontiers,” Yakubov said.

Interestingly, Belarus, a Russian ally who has been somewhat hesitant to pick sides in the conflict in Ukraine, appears to be falling back on their standard posture. RFE/RL reports that the Belarusian government has signaled concern about NATO activity in the region:

[Belarusian Defense Minister Andrei Ravkov] informed [Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko] about measures “of adequate response to what is going on at the southern border.” “We are keeping a close eye on the situation in Ukraine and the state of affairs at our borders stemming from it,” the minister said. 

He pointed to NATO’s increased activities at the border. According to Lukashenko’s press service, the North Atlantic Alliance “has increased its activity in conducting military exercises, including large-scale drills, at the Belarusian borders by 1.5 times” as compared with the previous year. 

The minister said the country was checking the reliability of the border protection system at the southern border section and in the Gomel region bordering Ukraine.

James Miller

Russian Soldier Found Dead Near Russia’s Military Base in Gyumri
Central Bank of Russia Reduces Key Rate to 11.5%
The Central Bank (Bank of Russia) has reduced the key rate to 11.5% and plans further reductions, Vedomosti reported.

A meeting of the bank’s board of directors took place today in which the decision to cut the key rate from 12.5% to 11.5% was made. Elvira Nabiullina, chairman of the Central Bank commented (translation by The Interpreter):

To the extent inflation is reduced further and the inflationary expectations in accordance with our forecast, will will continue to reduce the key rate.

This did not mean that a reduction would be made every month, she added.

Everything will depend on the development of the situation, there is a lot of uncertainty, there are inflationary risks, we will watch how the economic processes develop, investments, consumption, and unemployment.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick

Chechen Suspect in Nemtsov Murder Case May Be Tried in Military Court

Zaur Dadayev, the main suspect in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, was determined to have been serving in the armed forces at the time of the murder, Kommersant and TV Rain reported.

A source has told Kommersant that on February 27, 2015, the night of the murder, Dadayev was still serving in the Chechen Interior Ministry in the Sever Battalion, although earlier it was claimed that he took a 30-day leave at the end of which his resignation was to have gone in effect.

According to Kommersant’s information, while gathering material for their client Zaur Dadayev, his lawyers sent an inquiry to the Sever Regiment of the Interior Troops in Grozny (army unit I4156) in which the accused had served. From the response received in recent days it follows tat at the moment of the murder of Mr. Nemtsov – late on the evening of February 27, 2015 — the accused Dadayev was a staff officer of the regiment. As the Sever leadership states, Lt. Dadayev, deputy commander of a
special motorized battalion had served in the regiment a little less than nine years, although his military service calculated by the so-called privileged count is 13 years, 8 months. From this the conclusion can be made that Zaur Dadayev spent almost the entire period of his service in the combat zone and took part in combat.

On New Year’s Eve, the lieutenant submitted to the command of the unit a report of his resignation to the reserves at his own wish, although before this, he wished to spend the vacation time owed him.

During his vacation, the officer, as Kommersant reported, went to Moscow where he planned to meet with friends and former fellow servicemen to resolve some debt disputes. We note that lats year, Mr. Dadayev entered the Moscow Industrial University with a major in “banking.” By coincidence, he was expelled from the university on the day of the murder of Mr. Nemtsov on the grounds of non-payment of the latest tuition fee.

Dadayev was on vacation all through February and only on the last day of the month, Lt. Gen. Yevgeny Vnukov, commander of the North Caucasus region command of the Russian Federation Interior Ministry Internal Troops, issued order no. 9 “On Personnel,” ordering Alibek Delimkhanov, commander of the Sever Regiment, to dismiss Lt. Dadayev into the reserves. We note that February 28 — the day after the murder – Zaur Dadayev was formally counted as a servicemen. Only on March 1, Col. Delimkhanov issued his instruction No. 32 to remove Dadayev from the lists of personnel in the unit and remove all forms of his privileges. On that day, Lt. Dadayev, as follows from the answer of the commanders, turned in his service files and officially left the post. Upon his resignation, the officer was paid his severance pay in the amount of three times his salary, and his documents were sent to the military commission in Malgobek (Ingushetia) for placement on the military register according to his place of residence.

All of this means that Dadayev as well as his fellow defendants could be tried in a military court.

Alexey Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy, explained the ramifications of the defendant who was on active duty at the time of the murder:

Translation: It will be closed, and on the grounds of the military base.

That means the public and press will not be able to attend.

Sever has generally been referred to as a battalion, not a regiment in the past. Delimkhanov was transferred to another position in the Internal Troops. Dadayev has been linked to Ruslan Geremeyev, another Sever officer who is said to have organized the murder and is now said to be on the international wanted list after rumors he fled from Russia.

Shamsudin Tsakayev, a prominent attorney who is one of the lawyers
defending Dadayev, said he didn’t see a problem in the change of venue
and “counted on the objectivity of the military court.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick