MOSCOW (Reuters) – Suggestions that Russian politician Boris Nemtsov was killed by Chechen Islamists are nonsense designed to deflect suspicion from President Vladimir Putin, associates of the slain opposition figure said yesterday.
Investigators have charged two men, including a former Chechen police official, over the shooting of Nemtsov within sight of the Kremlin walls on February 27. Three more men have been arrested, and another blew himself up late on Saturday as police in Chechnya tried to detain him, Russian media said.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov said the charged ex-policeman, Zaur Dadayev, was a pious Muslim who had been angered by publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
Nemtsov had condemned an attack on Charlie Hebdo in which Islamist militants killed 12 people in January. But friends reject this as a motive, saying they do not believe Islamist gunmen acting alone could have shot him dead in one of the most closely guarded areas of central Moscow unless they had powerful and well-connected backers.
These associates believe it was Putin who stood to gain from his killing, though Russian officials have denied involvement and the president has called it a shameful tragedy.