Nemtsov Murder: Case Closed?
Russian media is widely reporting that Nemtsov’s murder was master-minded and carried out by Zaur Dadayev (pictured above) who had already made a confession. The motive for the killing was reported as Nemtsov’s stance on the Charlie Hebdo incident, and his criticism of Islam, Muslims, and the President of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov.
Kadyrov, for his part, sought take some of the heat off Dadayev, who after all was a decorated combat veteran who had risked his life in combat against Islamist militants in the Caucasus.
Is that the end of the story? We may never really know. On the face of it, the explanation offered is not wholly implausible. It may well be that Dadayev felt Kadyrov, who was quite outspoken in his criticism of Nemtsov and other Russian neo-liberals, might approve of this act even though he had not ordered it.
It is more likely that Dadayev is genuinely responsible for the crime, but that he is not revealing his true motives or instigators of the murder. It’s unlikely Kadyrov would have ordered it–he would not do anything that the Russian government would automatically disapprove of. It’s possible Dadayev has links to Chechen militants fighting on the side of the Kiev regime, but does not want to reveal them due to the strength of clan loyalties (we don’t know whether Dadayev is in any way related to these militants, but it cannot be ruled out). Finally, Dadayev may have been acting on behalf of a Chechen or Ingush faction, clan, or family that entered into conflict with Nemtsov on personal or business grounds. Again, the sense of loyalty would prevent Dadayev from implicating the party behind the murder, even if it meant taking the full blame for it.
It is also possible that the story has been released by the Russian investigators in order to induce a false sense of security among the party responsible for recruiting Dadayev to commit the murder. For all we know, Dadayev has spilled the beans, but the Russian government is protecting him and his relatives from retribution by insisting he has taken the full blame for the murder.
Last but not least, there is always the possibility that Nemtsov’s murder was ordered by someone within the Russian establishment, though not by anyone within Putin’s inner circle. If that’s the case, it would be only natural for Dadayev to be made to take the fall. However, since it’s virtually certain that the murder did not have official sanction at the highest level, there will be consequences drawn behind closed doors. If there are sudden demotions, retirements, or even arrests for unrelated charges, such personnel actions might be the consequences. The Russian establishment does not like to air out its dirty laundry, and its internal discipline is enforced by means to which the public is rarely privy.