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Oleg Orlov: "The murder of Nemtsov: the trail leads to Grozny" (Ekho Moskvy)

posted 15 Mar 2015, 14:16 by Rights in Russia   [ updated 15 Mar 2015, 14:25 ]
9 March 2015

By Oleg Orlov, a member of the Memorial Human Rights Centre

Source: Ekho Moskvy

Natasha Estemirova was murdered on 15 July, 2009. 

Boris Nemtsov has recently been murdered.

At the time, six and a half years ago, I told journalists:

"I know, I am certain of, who is guilty of the murder of Natasha Estemirova. We all know who it is. His name is Ramzan Kadyrov, the President of the Chechen Republic. Ramzan was already threatening and insulting Natalia, he saw her as his personal enemy. We do not know whether he gave the order himself or his inner circle did so, to please their boss. And President Medvedev is evidently quite happy for the head of one of the Russian republics to be a murderer".

I was prosecuted for having defamed the head of the Chechen Republic, but the court acquitted me, and I remain convinced of the truth of my accusations.

Who is behind the murder of Boris Nemtsov?

Of course, I don't know who it is. But based on what I do know, I can suggest who the most likely candidates are.

Yesterday it emerged that among those arrested on suspicion of his murder is a former deputy commander of the 'Sever' (North) Battalion, Zaur Dadaev. Beslan Shavanov, a former employee of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Chechen Republic, was killed whilst being detained in Grozny for suspected involvement in the same crime.

If it is proved that Zaur Dadaev really was involved in the crime, then it seems to me extremely unlikely that an officer of this battalion, even one that had recently been discharged, would get involved in this kind of 'business' without direct or indirect tasking by the head of the Chechen Republic.

To give it its formal title, the 248-th Separate Special Motorised Battalion, with the operational designation 'North', falls under the North Caucasus district of Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia, and they report directly to the Commander of that district. In reality, though, the 'North' and 'South' battalions of the Interior Ministry form a constituent part of the private army of Ramzan Kadyrov. Soldiers from these battalions proudly call themselves 'Kadyrovtsy’.

They were formed in the spring of 2006. The backbone of these battalions comprised former soldiers of the Security Service of the President of the Chechen Republic and of the Anti-Terrorist Centre, two illegal law enforcement agencies in the Chechen Republic to which militants who had surrendered under personal guarantees of Ramzan Kadyrov and been 'amnestied' by him were sent to serve.

The Commander of the 'North' battalion was Alimbek Delimkhanov, brother of Adam Delimkhanov, who was then the Commander of the 'Oil Regiment', and is now a deputy of the State Duma, whom Ramzan Kadyrov has, on numerous occasions, called his 'right hand man'. Muslim Ilyasov was appointed as Commander of the 'South' Battalion. Both are former militants. At the swearing-in ceremony of the said battalions Ramzan Kadyrov was awarded permanent possession of the banner of the Anti-Terrorist Centre and the soldiers voewed to 'sacredly abide by the traditions of the Security Service and Anti-Terrorist Centre' (see 1; 2).

To this day, personal allegiance to Kadyrov is the principle duty of any soldier of these battalions. In the case of the Deputy Commander, then what is required is dedication 'squared'. An officer of the battalion, even a former one, would have to be crazy to get involved in a super-high profile crime, without first getting approval from on high. After all, in today's Chechnya, the entire family can pay for the disobedience of one man.

But it would seem that nothing of the kind will happen in this case.
".. I would like to note once again that Zaur Dadaev could not put a single foot wrong against Russia, for whose sake he risked his life for many years. Beslan Shavanov was an equally gutsy warrior, who died yesterday during his attempted arrest." - Such is the portrait Kadyrov paints of alleged criminals. Chechen TV is showing the family of the murdered Shavanov holding a memorial. This is strikingly different from what usually happens to families of terrorists and militants at Kadyrov's instigation.

If Kadyrov himself were ever to be questioned, it is most likely that he would deny the patently obvious. What allegations can possibly be made against him, given that former or serving members of the Chechen security forces turn out to have been terrorists?! He, Kadyrov, just like all the other heads of the Russian regions, does not command the police, especially the internal armed forces, but puts his efforts into managing the economy.

It's funny, but that is exactly what Ramzan Kadyrov said to me when he called me the day after the murder of Natasha Estemirova. And then his lawyer made the same point in Court. In response, though, we offered compelling evidence that the security apparatus of the Interior Ministry in Chechnya is under the complete and absolute control of Ramzan Kadyrov (see. 1; 2).

The trail left by people close to the leadership of the Chechen Republic is, to a greater or lesser degree of conspicuousness, visible in a whole series of assassinations of the opponents of Ramzan Kadyrov: Movladi Baysarov (1; 2), Ruslan Yamadaev, Sulim Yamadaev, attempt on the life of Isa Yamadaev, and the murder of Umar Israilov in Vienna, amongst others.

However, such crimes have so far been committed against people who had a direct connection to the events that took place in Chechnya exclusively. Boris Nemtsov was not such a person.

But perhaps Chechnya has become too small for Kadyrov. He needs a bigger stage. He already makes political statements relating to Russia as a whole. He already speaks as a defender of Islam throughout the world.

On this point, it is worth recalling what Kadyrov told a Newsweek correspondent over four years ago:"Those who criticise Putin are not people, they are my personal enemies. As long as Putin is behind me, I can do anything I like. God is Great!".

Translated by Lindsay Munford