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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:
– Who is Hacking the Russian Opposition and State Media Officials — and How?
– Does it Matter if the Russian Opposition Stays United?
– Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov Has Invented A Version Of History To Meet His Needs
– Getting The News From Chechnya â The Crackdown On Free Press You May Have Missed
Lawyers for Zhanna Nemtsova, the daughter of Nemtsov, obtained documents showing the role of Gen. Viktor Zolotov, who once served as President Vladimir Putin’s personal bodyguard, in the investigation.
Zolotov has served as the head of the presidential security service; as deputy head of the Federal Protective Service charged with guarding the president and top officials in the Kremlin; as deputy interior minister and as commander of the Interior Ministry’s Internal Troops. In April, he was put in charge of the new National Guard. In all these roles, Putin has relied on him to protect him not only from internal coups but external unrest that would destabilize his regime.
Nemtsova’s attorneys filed a complaint about the Investigative Committee’s unwillingness to interrogate Zolotov regarding his subordinates who are charged with the murder of Nemtsov. The attorneys learned from a statement sent to Zolotov by the Investigative Committee that Zaur Dadayev, currently held as a defendant in the murder case, and Ruslan Geremeyev, who is wanted by Russian authorities and is believed to have fled abroad or is in hiding in Russia, were described as officially on assignment outside of Chechnya and were carrying arms.
Dadayev was deputy head of the Sever [North Battalion]; Geremeyev, was head of the Sever Battalion, a unit within the Chechen branch of the Internal Troops, which was technically a subordinate of Zolotov’s, although these forces have widely been seen as the “personal army” of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. Zolotov has been in close contact with Kadyrov, has visited Chechnya number of times and has been received into Kadyrov’s home. The Sever Battalion, like other such units, is now part of the National Guard.
Aside from Dadayev and Ruslan Geremeyev, his relative, ArturGeremeyev is related to the murder plot as he owned the apartment where the defendants hid out.
Another defendant, Timerlan Eskherkhanov, currently in pre-trial detention, was also a member of the Sever Battalion. A suspect named Beslan Shavanov was also a member; he blew himself up with a grenade when police came to arrest him in March 2015. Also highly relevant is the fact that Col. Alibek Delikmkhanov, now commander of military unit No. 4156 in Chechnya and the direct superior of the Sever Battalion commanders, is the brother of Adam Delimkhanov, a deputy in the State Duma and advisor to Kadyrov whom Kadyrov has named as his successor if he does not run for office again. Delimkhanov and his relatives have been implicated in other cases involving the “liquidation” of Kadyrov’s enemies.
No expiration dates are shown on these passes. Tutevich’s memo says that the main command of the Internal Troops gave a statement to the Investigative Committee about the passes: they said that in fact Dadayev and Geremeyev were not sent on assignment, and that the passes discovered were in fact given to other other soldiers. That implied that they were forged, although that is not stated.
Tutevich instead says more vaguely that the discovery of the passes could indicate a “negligent attitude to the performance of their duties by the staff service” of the Sever Battalion and personally Alibek Delimkhanov and also about “an intent to distort reality with the purpose of covering up the involvement of Dadayev in the murder of Nemtsov.” Thus, he concedes either routine carelessness with passes being made without regard to who might use them and how, but also a possible cover-up.
That reply also noted, interestingly, that the Investigative Committee extracted “the videotapes from the external surveillance of the FSO from February 27 at 0:01 to February 28 at 20:00” (Nemtsov was killed close to midnight). So that’s an indication that the Investigative Committee has tapes that it has not included in the case file, but it’s not clear from which cameras, and where they were located.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
The following headlines were taken from 7:40 na Perrone, Slon, RBC, Interfax, Kommersant, Novoye Vremya, Izvestiya, New York Times, Katehon
What We’re Reading
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick