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.
President Vladimir Putin arrived in Astana, Kazakhstan for a trilateral summit with Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka.
– Alexey Navalny On the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
–Theories about Possible Perpetrators of the Murder of Boris Nemtsov
–Novaya Gazeta Releases Sensational Kremlin Memo: âIt is Seen as Correct to Initiate Annexation of Eastern Regions of Ukraine to Russiaâ
–Former Russian Intelligence Officers Behind Boisto âTrack IIâ Talks â and Now the Flawed Minsk Agreement.
See also our Russia This Week stories:
All The Strange Things Happening in Moscow
Remembering Boris Nemtsov, Insider and Outsider (1959-2015)
Ultranationalists Angry over âCapitulationâ of Minsk Agreement,
âAnti-Maidanâ Launched by Nationalists, Cossacks, Veterans, Bikers
The Guild War â How Should Journalists Treat Russian State Propagandists?
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Yury Degtyarev, artistic director of a PR firm named My Duck’s Vision, told AFP that his company had produced the fiercely nationalistic video as propaganda for the state.
The video had previously been attributed to one Evgeny Yurov, the supposed owner of the YouTube account onto which the video was first uploaded.
However when My Duck’s Vision, whose video productions closely resemble those attributed to Yurov, were contacted, the company admitted that he did not exist.
From Llobet’s report:
“We have been producing Russian propaganda on YouTube for over five years but this is one of our major successes,” artistic director Yury Degtyarev tells AFP of the “Russian Occupier” clip when tracked down. The video, he adds, had been ordered “by people close to the ruling party”.
“Ah yes, it’s true, this does destroy the myth of the young patriot willing to do anything for Russia,” he laughs over the revelation.
“This is the new weapon of Russian propaganda. And it always works better when the propaganda seems spontaneous,” said Degtyarev.
— Pierre Vaux
Zaur Dadayev, the main suspect in the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, was discovered to have hid out in the apartment of his fellow policeman Ruslan Geremeyev, registered to Artur Geremeyev, who appears to be his relative, RBC.ru reported, citing a source close to the investigation. It was Geremeyeva who introduced Dadayev to Temerlan Eskerkhanov, another one of the five suspects.
Right after the murder, Dadayev, Anzor Gubashev and Beslan Shavanov hid out at two addresses in Moscow on Veyernaya Street and at a home in the villgae of Kozino in the Odintsovskoy District of Moscow Region, two sources familiar with the investigation told RBC.ru. The house in Kozino was rented by two brothers, Anzor and Shadid Gubashev.
Ruslan Geremeyev, a former officer of the Sever [North] Battalion (where Dadayev also served as deputy commander), is a relative of two influential Chechen politicians in the Federation Council (upper chamber of parliament), Adam Delikhanov and Suleyman Geremeyev, at No. 46 Veyernaya, says the sources. Temirlan Eskerkhanov, another one of the five suspects in the case, said he saw Dadayev there.
Rosreyestr, a real estate registry, shows that the apartment at No. 46 is owned by Artur Geremeyev, says RBC.ru, and the address is also in the state registry of sole proprietors. Geremeyev was registered in the federal tax service registry in September 2014 and also in the Chechen inter-district tax registry as a cattle owner. Artur and Ruslan, identified by Novaya Gazeta and Russian bloggers as the contracter of the murder, are said to be “distant relatives”; Ruslan is now “under heavy guard” in Grozny — but supposedly as a witness, not a suspect.
Back on March 17, RBC.ru reported that Dadayev’s confession — which he has now retracted — pointed to people around Ruslan Geremeyev with “high-placed relatives” as organizing the murder, two sources told RBC.ru. Dadayev is alleged to have said that a certain “Rusik,” helped him to organize the murder, and was seen driving a Mercedes with the license plate 007.
Rusik provided a pistol and bullets and the silver ZAZ Chance which was the getaway car; the 9-mm pistol with six bullets was found under the right passenger seat in the car when he got it, according to Dadayev. While other Russian media has reported that police said scuba-divers had found two pistols in the river by the bridge where Nemtsov was killed, according to this report, “a person sent by Rusik” picked up the pistol after the murder, and then Rusik himself drove Dadayev to the airport to take a flight to Grozny.
Temirlan Eskerkhanov, also described the Mercedes with the 007 license plate, but said he didn’t drive it himself but gave it to his friends to drive. He also mentioned a driver named “Rusik” who described as Gerememeyev’s driver. RBC’s source said that the two testimonies differed; while both men said the license plate was “007,” Dadayev said the car was a Mercedes jeep with ML modification, Eskerkhanov said it had a GL modification.
All of these testimonies were retracted by the suspects.
Dadayev claimed that he only accidentally got acquainted with Rusik at the Evropeysky shopping center in Moscow, RBC.ru‘s source said. Dadayev reportedly said he did not commit the murder for mercenary aims. Yet he did note that Rusk promised him money while he was organizing the murder — 5 million rubles ($83,000).
According to these sources, Dadayev was angered by what he saw as Nemtsov’s active support for publishing cartoons offensive to Muslims made by the journalists of Charlie Hebdo in Paris.
But the blog posts Nemtsov published on this topic do not contain advocacy for publishing the cartoons, and only shows one in the form of a copy of a German magazine cover after the terrorist attack.
RBC.ru’s source then gave the first public account of the murder from the perspective of the perpetrators — although this is the testimony that was retracted (translation by The Interpreter):
The idea to organize the murder came into his [Dadayev’s] head during a meeting with his fellow countrymen in a cafe in Moscow. They all criticized Charlie Hebdo and Nemtsov since they considered him to be the main initiator of calls to publish the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
According to Dadayev, three people took part in preparation for the crime: Dadayev himself, his distant relative Anzor Gubashev and a fellow policeman from the Sever Battalion, Belsan Shavanov, who later blew himself up with a grenade when he was detained. They tailed Nemtsov for several weeks. According to Dadayev, the Nemtsov’s movements were chaotic, and it was a problem to understand where and when he was going.
On the night of February 27, Anzor Gubashev and Shavanov patrolled the area in the car, and Dadayev, according to his statement, watched Nemtsov’s residence on Ordynka Street. Shavanov noticed Nemtsov together with Anna Duritskaya in a cafe on Red Square. He called Dadayev on a burner phone and said that Nemtsov was found. Dadayev returned to the ZAZ Chance, where Anzor Gubashev was behind the wheel, and together they began to wait for Shavanov’s signal.
Shavanov gave the signal when Nemtsov and the girl left the cafe and headed toward Nemtsov’s home on Ordynka. Then Anzor Gubashev drove Dadayev to the Moskvoretsky Bridge from the direction of the Kremlin. For several minutes, Nemtsov and his companion walked along the bridge, and Dadayev followed them. When he got to a distance of five meters, Dadayev shot Nemtsov several times in the back – he began to fall, pulling Duritskaya to him.
Noting that Nemtsov was trying to get up from falling, Dadayev made three additional shots. Dadayev held the pistol in his left hand, in his right, he held the telephone on which he explained to Anzor Gubashev where to bring the car to. Zaur Dadayev is left-handed, said the RBC.ru source familiar with the investigation.
Dadayev got into the ZAZ Chance, drove across Bolotnaya Square and got out after 350 meters. After that, he changed cars three times and ultimately reached the apartment on Veyernaya Street where he lived in Moscow. He then flew to Moscow the next day.
The one video available to the public that captures the scene of the murder may not support this confession, as it appears that the figure who shot Nemtsov may have got out of, or jumped off the back of, the street-cleaner that blocks the view of what is happening from the camera. Then the killer gets into the car to drive away.
The witness “Viktor” about whom LifeNews wrote — who has since been forgotten — would be able to comment on what he thinks of the elements of this original confession of Dadayev — but no one has interviewed him.
One source says that Dadayev never explains the role of Eskerkhanov, Gubashev and Khamzat Bakhayev, the fifth suspect and al of them claim they were not involved and have an alibi. According to Bakhayev’s lawyer, his client lived in the same village at one time as Dadayev but they moved away years ago and had not been in touch.
There’s a number of open questions about this testimony — why didn’t the Federal Protective Service (FSO) who monitored this area orthe FSB who were likely following Nemtsov two days before the big anti-war march see any of this and intercept it? Or get the police there earlier than 10 minutes after the shooting?
Was Nemtsov walking on the outside of the sidewalk, so that it would be easier for the left-handed Dadayev to shoot him, or on the inside toward the river? How did Dadayev avoid hitting Duritskaya?
There were other people on the bridge – didn’t the killers worry about being seen or not being able to get at their target?
Why weren’t the killers more concerned about their vehicle being seen and tracked?
The Economist has pointed out that the very carelessness with which the murderers went about their attack speaks to a sense of impunity or some fort of collusion with those watching the area.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
President Vladimir Putin arrived in Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan today for trilateral talks with Kazakhstani President Nursultan Nazarbayev and Belarusian leader Alyaksandr Lukashenka, kremlin.ru reported.
The agenda includes discussion of trade and economic development in the Eurasian Customs Union, “integrationist processes taking into account he influence of modern trends in world economics” (however that’s to be understood) and “current international issues, above all Ukraine.”
Kyrgyz President Aslimbek Atambayev, with whom Putin met last week after his 11 days’ disappearance, is not attending the meeting in Astana, and it is not clear if that was always the plan or if it means he has cold feet about joining the Eurasian Customs Union.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick