According to RT, Zaur Dadaev, who had reportedly confessed involvement in Nemtsov’s murder, said he organized the crime in revenge for the opposition leader’s “negative comments on Muslims and Islam,” according to Rosbalt’s source in law enforcement.  Sounds plausible?

Not really.  Possible?  I suppose so.  But plausible?

Zaur Dadaev  – who supposedly pulled the trigger –  was the deputy commander of the Chechen special operations battalion “Vostok”.  Hardly your typical Takfiri freak.  Not only that, but Ramzan Kadyrov came pretty close to vouching for him.  This is what he wrote in his Instagram:

I knew Zaur as a real patriot of Russia.  He served from the very first days of the formation of the regiment which later became part of the 46th Independent Operational Purposes Brigade of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.  He had the rank of Lieutenant and the function of Deputy Battalion Commander.  Zaur was one of the most fearless and courageous soldiers in the regiment.  He especially distinguished himself during the battle near Benoi where a special operation was taking place to destroy a large group of terrorists.  He has been awarded the Order of Courage, the medals “For Valor” and “For Service of the Chechen Republic” and a letter of commendation from the President.  I am deeply convinced that he was a real patriot and that he was willing to die for is Motherland.  I don’t know why is resigned from the ranks of the Internal Troops of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.  I was told he explained it by his sick mother.  The media now says that Zaur confessed his participation in the murder of Boris Nemtsov.  All those who knew Zaur agree that he was a deeply religious person and that he, like all Muslims, was deeply shocked by the events of Charlie Hebdo and by all the supportive comments about the caricatures.  I ordered the Head of the Security Council of the Chechen Republic Vakhit Usmaev to conduct a thorough investigation into the resignation of Zaur, to study his behavior and his mood before his departure.  In any case, if the court confirms the guilt of Dadaev then by killing a person he committed a grievous crime.  But I want to stress again that he could never had done anything against Russia for whom he has risked his life many times over the years.  Beslan Shavanov, who died on the previous day during his arrest, was also a courageous warrior.  We believe that a thorough investigation will be conducted and that it will show whether Dadaev is really guilt and what his motives were.

I don’t know about you, but this makes no sense to me.  Kadyrov has never been shy about condemning misbehaving Chechens or about his categorically uncompromising stance against all forms of terrorism.  And yet, in this case, he seems to be harboring the deepest doubts even though Dadaev apparently confessed.  Kadyrov does admit that Dadaev was shocked by the events of Charlie Hebdo and the support for the caricatures (of the Prophet) , but at the same time he also finds it unthinkable that Dadaev would do anything which could hurt Russia (which the murder of Nemtsov certainly did).  Let’s summarize what Kadyrov says about Dadaev:

  • Courageous and even fearless
  • Patriotic to the point of sacrificing his life
  • Deeply religious

How does any of that fit the Russian TV version about these men killing Nemtsov for money?  In my opinion, not at all.  However, I suppose that if Dadaev did really believe that Nemtsov was a threat to Russia and/or an enemy of Islam, he could have decided to sacrifice his life to kill the man.  After all, his only statement to the media was “I love the Prophet, peace be upon him”.

The problem with that version is that men like Dadaev normally do not act on their own: deeply religious people and soldiers have that in common that they typpically act under guidance of spiritual or military superiors. Did Dadaev fall under the influence of an extremist religious figure?  But if that is the case, then how did Chechen counter-intelligence fail to detect that an important Chechen official was having regular contacts with the type of extremists which the Chechens usually ruthlessly suppress?  Furthermore, Dadaev did not act alone, but in a group.  So how did all these man get involved?

Then there is the gun.  A Makarov 9x18mm whose clip was filled with bullets from different factories including 30 year old rounds.  Why would a man like Dadaev use such a weapon and, especially, such ammo when he probably had access to pretty much anything he wanted in Chechnia?!  Dadaev was certainly expert enough in guns to realize that using such old ammo was a terrible choice (a brand new GSh-18 with modern ammo is what I would expect a Chechen special forces officer to carry)

There is also something very wrong with the statement of Dadaev: sure he loves the Prophet, but if he believed that Nemtsov deserved to die, why not say so in front of the press?  And why have all his alleged accomplices remained silent?  Why not act like, say, Brevik and proudly explain his actions?!

The day following Nemtsov’s murder I predicted that the FSB would make arrests pretty soon and that I expected them to “find a fall-guy, a patsy, who will have no provable contacts with any western services and who, ideally, might even have some contacts with the Russian services”.  Well, Dadaev does have contact with the Chechen security services alright, but for the rest the picture looks far more complicated than just a “crazy lone shooter”.

At this point I will readily admit that I am unable to connect the dots, hopefully somebody else will do better.  But until then, I reserve judgment about what really happened.

The Saker

The Essential Saker: from the trenches of the emerging multipolar world