Authorities in Russia announced that they’ve arrested two men from the Caucuses in connection with the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. He was gunned down on a bridge in Moscow last week.
The two men were identified as Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev. Their nationality and religion are unknown. The region of the Caucuses in which they live is known for separatist activity and is a hot spot of organized crime.
Russian media is reporting two other suspects have been taken into custody: Gubashev’s younger brother and a man who was in the same car with Dadayev at the time of the arrest.
Two suspects are in custody over last week’s killing of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov – the first sign of progress in the case.
Russian authorities have detained Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev, two men from the volatile and insurgency-plagued North Caucasus region in southern Russia, according to Alexander Bortnikov, head of the Federal Security Service.
“The individuals detained are, according to our investigation, involved in the organization and execution of the killing of Boris Nemtsov,” the committee leading the investigation said in a statement, according to Reuters.
Bortnikov gave no details of how and where the suspects were detained, but he reportedly said Saturday that President Vladimir Putin has been informed of the detainment and that the investigation is ongoing.
The two men in custody are the first signs of any headway in the case since Mr. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and a fierce critic of Mr. Putin, was killed as he walked home on the evening of Feb. 27. Nemtsov was shot four times in the back, within sight of the Kremlin, in the “most high-profile killing of an opposition figure in Putin’s 15-year rule,” according to Reuters.
Some 50,000 people attended a rally to protest the murder Sunday, and thousands more paid their respects when Nemtsov was buried in Moscow Tuesday.
A car and a camera
Neither Mr. Gubashev nor Mr. Dadayev have been formally charged, making it unclear whether either of the men are alleged to have fired the fatal shot. Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that the suspects were identified through phone records along with evidence found in a car they purportedly used, according to the BBC.
Anna Duritskaya, Nemtsov’s Ukrainian girlfriend who was with him the night of his death, has told authorities she saw nothing of the assailants – only a white car, the Financial Times reported.
What are the odds of Russian security picking up the real killers of Nemtsov? In the crazy cloud cuckoo land that is Russia under Putin, it’s impossible to say. The Russian government has been hinting in recent days that the U.S. is behind the assassination, looking to discredit Putin and weaken Russia. That kind of convoluted thinking plays well in Russia with ordinary people who would believe Putin if he told them up was down and black was white.
In truth, Putin has a variety of patsies he could hang this crime on. Muslims, separatists, the mob — RT, the Russian government news site, reports that the security service is even considering Nemtsov’s business activities and a possible assault related to his personal life.
Where the FSB will not look is anywhere close to Vladimir Putin.