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Four claim innocence, one remains silent Five suspects arrested in Nemtsov murder case. ‘Meduza’ reports from Moscow

Source: Meduza
Photo: Ivan Sekretarev / AP / Scanpix

On Sunday, March 8, two suspects were placed under arrest in Moscow in relation to the Boris Nemtsov murder case. Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev will be detained until April 28. Three more suspects, Shagid Gubashev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov, and Khazmat Bakhaev, will be in custody until May 7 and 8. Four of the suspects have said they are not guilty of the crime, while Dadayev has kept silent. There is reason to believe that, according to the investigators, Dadayev was the shooter on the night of the killing. Nothing has been disclosed about the roles of the others. Andrey Kozenko reports for Meduza from Moscow.

The arrests were made side by side. As the orders for the simultaneous arrests of Shagid Gubashev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov, and Khazmat Bakhaev were considered in one courtroom of Moscow’s Basmanny Court, Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev were being placed in custody in another.

Special forces officers wearing black balaclavas, no insignia aside from the Russian flag on their uniforms, brought in a doubled-over Dadayev. They put him in the cage designated for suspects. His behavior was strange, even given the circumstances — he would alternate between making faces to mock the prosecutor, grinning widely and nodding with enthusiasm. He told several of the photographers, who had arrived in the courtroom before the rest, that he loved the prophet Muhammad.

Zaur Dadayev
Photo: Tatyana Makeyeva / Reuters / Scanpix

Importantly, the arrest of Dadayev was ordered by Major General Igor Krasnov, a high-ranking special cases investigator known for his work on high-profile nationalist cases, as well as on the attack on former deputy prime minister Anatoly Chubais. Krasnov was brief. He stated that Dadayev was detained on March 7, not in Moscow. On the morning of March 8 he was questioned, then charges were brought against him for murder committed by a group of persons as a contract killing or as banditry, as well as for illegal acquisition and possession of firearms in a preliminary conspiracy. 

Krasnov said that the search for evidence will be carried out throughout several regions of Russia and that the suspects must be questioned, thus Dadayev will remain in custody until April 28, the current formal end date of the investigation into Nemtsov’s murder. The arrest could be extended. 

Dadayev stopped making faces and confirmed that he was born in 1982 in Stavropol region, is unmarried, has no children, and is currently unemployed. His permanent address is in the town of Malgobek in Ingusehtia, a region located in the North Caucasus, but he could not name the address “because there was a landslide there.” Earlier, media reported that Dadayev had served in the Chechen police battalion called Sever (North), a pro-Moscow force set up in 2006 in Chechnya, in the North Caucasus of Russia. The battalion leader's brother is a close associate of the head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov. This was not mentioned in the courtroom.

Judge Natalya Mushnikova asked Dadayev if the requests of the investigative committee were clear.

“I want the court to carefully consider my case and to follow the law,” answered Dadayev.

“Not now, that comes later,” the judge interrupted. “Are the terms of the arrest clear?”

“I disagree with the pre-trial restrictions,” said Dadayev.

His lawyer asked for an alternative to incarceration as a pre-trial restriction. He had the air of a person who doesn’t believe the words coming out of his own mouth. 

It took about half an hour for the judge to put into writing her final decision. The text was a word-for-word reiteration of what Igor Krasnov had said, with one new detail: judge Mushnikova stated that Dadayev cannot be released because he has given “confessionary statements.”

The suspect was handcuffed and led away. Out of all the suspects, Dadayev had received the most attention from both special forces officers and investigators. This could indicate that they believe him to be the shooter who killed Boris Nemtsov, but this is yet to be confirmed.

Tamerlan Eskerkhanov, Shagid Gubashev and Ramzan Bakhayev
Photo: Maxim Shemetov / Reuters / Scanpix

At the same time in the next courtroom a judge was considering the arrests of suspects Shagid Gubashev, 32, Eskerkhanov, 35, and Bakhaev, 45. As photographers and cameramen crowded around the suspect cage, all three men bent down and covered their faces with their hands and their jackets. One of them had been detained late in the evening of March 7 near Moscow, while the two others were arrested that night in Chechnya and Ingushetia. The investigator announced that they although they claim they are innocent, the investigation is in possession of evidence to prove otherwise. 

Shagid Gubashev stated that he has an alibi; in the evening on the day of the murder he was at a club surrounded by people who can confirm this. Eskerkhanov and Bakaev also announced that they are innocent. They both have six children each, and Eskerkhanov said that he cannot be incarcerated due to his health; he suffers from kidney problems.

It was ruled that the three men would be detained until May 7 and 8, which is before the set date for the end of the investigation. The defense stated they would appeal against the arrest ruling.

The arrest of Shagid Gubashev’s older brother Anzor went exactly as Dadayev's arrest. He was also brought in by men wearing balaclavas and was doubled-over. Gubashev was born in 1981, is unmarried, has no children, has a secondary level of education, and his permanent address is in Malgobek, Ingushetia. He sat in the cage with his hat stretched over his face and muttered something under his breath. The fresh bruises and scratches on his knuckles made it look like he had recently been in a fight.

Anzor Gubashev
Photo: Tatyana Makeyeva / Reuters / Scanpix

General Krasnov took the floor and repeated the same statements as those voiced for Dadayev’s arrest. In answer to the question of the judge about whether he understands the terms of his arrest, Anzor Gubashev stated that he is innocent. The final statement finalizing his arrest also took about half an hour to issue. The special forces officers who led him out bent him over once more, and as they exited the room the doorknob knocked his head with considerable force. Anzor Gubashev, like Dadayev, is under arrest until April 28. 

Not one of the five suspects has pleaded guilty. Four have claimed they are innocent, while the fifth, Dadayev, is staying silent. A sixth suspect died in Grozny, the capital of Chechnya, as he was being detained: first he shot at police officers, and then he blew himself up with a grenade. The press secretary of Basmanny Court stated that on March 9 no new arrests in relation to Nemtsov’s murder would be made, as the court will be closed for a federal holiday.

Andrey Kozenko


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