Things relating to the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov are getting curiouser and curiouser.
The sixth man sought in the killings was cornered in Grozny, Chechnya and promptly blew himself up.
Beslan Shavanov, 30, was holed up in a building in Grozny when police arrived to arrest him Saturday afternoon, Russia 24 reported. Police surrounded the building and Shavano tried to escape, throwing a grenade at police officers before blowing himself up, the station said.
The news came as Russian authorities reported making five other arrests in connection with Boris Nemtsov’s killing.
One of those arrested claims to have an alibi, according to Russia’s Sputnik News.
“At the time of the murder, I was at work as I usually am every day. There are many people, my colleagues, who will confirm this,” the news agency quoted Tamerlan Eskerkhanov as saying in Moscow’s Basmanny District Court.
Two of the suspects have been formally charged and three “remain under the status of suspects,” court spokeswoman Anna Fadeyeva told Sputnik.
Nemtsov, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics, was shot in the back on a Moscow bridge as he walked with his girlfriend near the Kremlin in late February.
Surveillance video showed someone darting from the sidewalk and into a nearby car right after Nemtsov collapsed.
Putin has been informed of the arrests in connection with Nemtsov’s death, Russian media said, citing Federal Security Service director Alexander Bortnikov.
Two of the other suspects are Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev, Bortnikov said in a televised statement. The others are Ramzan Bakhayev and Shagit Gubashev, Anzor’s younger brother, according to a Sputnik report that also said Dadayev was the only one of the five to plead guilty — though to what crimes was not clear.
Bortnikov said those detained are from the southern region of the North Caucasus, which for years has been a hotbed of unrest and rebellion against Moscow.
For the record, Nemtsov was a vocal opponent of the war in Chechnya. But what if the assassination was an attack by Islamic terrorists?
The Guardian is reporting that the Chechen policeman who confessed, Zaur Dadayev, is an associate of Kremlin-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov. He is also a Muslim:
Zaur Dadayev, a Chechen, was one of five men to appear in a Moscow courtroom on Sunday, all from Russia’s north Caucasus region.
“Dadayev’s involvement in committing this crime is confirmed by, apart from his own confession, the totality of evidence gathered as part of this criminal case,” said Judge Natalia Mushnikova.
Dadayev raised his index finger in the courtroom, a common Islamist sign, and said “I love the prophet Mohammed”, according to reporters present.
“I knew Zaur as a genuine Russian patriot,” the Chechen leader wrote on his Instagram page on Sunday evening, confirming that Dadayev had served in one of his battalions. “He was the deputy commander of the battalion, and one of the most fearless and courageous soldiers of the regiment.”
Kadyrov said Dadayev was “fully devoted to Russia” and suggested the murder may have been in response to anger over Nemtsov’s support for the Charlie Hebdo cartoons.
“Everyone who knows Zaur says he is deeply religious person and like all Muslims was very shocked by the actions of Charlie [Hebdo] and by comments supporting the printing of the caricatures,” wrote Kadyrov. “If the court finds Dadayev guilty then by killing a person he has committed a grave crime. But I want to note that he could not do anything that was against Russia, for which he has risked his own life for many years.”
So the tangled web of associations in this case continues to confuse and obfuscate the truth. It’s almost like someone planned it that way.