Russia says 'completed' first probe of Kremlin critic's murder

20th June 2016, Comments 0 comments

Russian investigators on Monday announced they had completed a first probe into the murder of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov, describing the killing as a hit ordered by a low-ranking Chechen official and other "unidentified" suspects.

The night-time shooting on February 27 2015 of Nemtsov, one of the most prominent critics of President Vladimir Putin, occurred just steps from the walls of the Kremlin and shocked Russia.

"The investigation of the criminal case has been completed," the powerful Investigative Committee said in a statement, naming five suspects who have been accused of organising the murder and weapons trafficking.

The suspects -- Zaur Dadayev, Shadid and Anzor Gubashev, Bemirlan Eskerkhanov and Khamzat Bakhaev -- are all currently in detention and have been charged with the killing.

According to investigators, they were approached in late September 2014 -- some five months before Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, was killed -- and offered 15 million rubles (about $235,000) for the murder.

The amount was offered by "Ruslan Mukhudinov and other individuals," the committee said.

The case against these "unidentified persons" is ongoing, it added.

Mukhudinov is a low-ranking Chechen security official who has reportedly served in a Chechen unit called Sever which supported Kremlin loyalist Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

He has been named as organiser since December 2015.

Nemtsov's supporters and daughter have demanded that the investigation questions Kadyrov himself over suspicions that the strongman leader or those close to him ordered the hit.

Kadyrov has spoken in support of the accused men and denied allegations of involvement.

He has said Nemtsov was killed because he supported French satirical publication Charlie Hebdo, targeted in January 2015 after it published caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.

The Investigative Committee however concluded that there was no religious motive and the Charlie Hebdo version "can be completely excluded".

A sixth alleged perpetrator, Beslan Shavanov, "blew himself up" to avoid arrest in November 2015, the committee said.

Russia's federal security service (FSB) on Monday said that Nemtsov was shot from a home-made weapon constructed from parts smuggled into Russia from abroad.

© 2016 AFP

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