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Case closed Putin says that the murders of Boris Nemtsov and Galina Starovoitova have been solved. Is that true?

Source: Meduza
Anatoly Maltsev / EPA / Scanpix / LETA

During a meeting with the Human Rights Council on Thursday, December 10, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the high-profile murders of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and State Duma deputy Galina Starovoitova have been solved. In particular, he said that in addition to the perpetrators, the people who ordered the killings have been found. Meduza fact-checks Putin’s comment against previous criminal convictions in connection to both killings, as well as the most recent reports from state investigators.

The quote

The well-known murder of Galina Starovoitova — everyone was found, imprisoned, and held accountable. Nemtsov’s murder. I discussed this with my colleagues recently, it needs to be finalized, probably, but there too in general everything is clear, both the perpetrators and the customers have been found.

The fact-check

The Galina Starovoitova case

Galina Starovoitova was shot dead in the lobby of her apartment building in St. Petersburg on November 20, 1998. Two men were convicted of the crime in 2005. Yuri Kolchin was sentenced to 20 years in a maximum security prison on charges of organizing the killing and Vitaly Akinshin was sentenced to 23.5 years on charges of carrying out the murder. The case was reopened in 2013 and two years later former State Duma deputy Mikhail Glushchenko was sentenced to 17 years in prison on charges of organizing Starovoitova’s murder.

In April 2019, reports emerged that the Federal Security Service (FSB) had brought charges against Vladimir Barsukov (born Kumarin), the leader of the so-called Tambov gang, in connection with Starovoitova’s killing. The independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta wrote that investigators were ready to name him as the person who ordered the assassination. But in May 2020, the state news agency TASS, citing an unnamed source from the investigative agencies, reported that whoever ordered the killing had not in fact been identified and that a case against this unidentified person had been made into a separate proceeding. The source added that the investigation into Bursakov’s possible involvement in the murder of Galina Starovoitova will not be completed until the end of 2020. 

The Boris Nemtsov case

Boris Nemtsov was killed in a drive-by shooting on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge near the Kremlin in central Moscow on February 27, 2015. Five people were convicted for his murder: Zaur Dadayev (who is considered the direct perpetrator), brothers Anzor and Shadid Gubashev, Temirlan Eskerkhanov, and Khamzat Bakhayev. All five were given sentences ranging from 11 to 20 years in prison.

According to state investigators, the murder was ordered and organized by Ruslan Mukhudinov — a driver for Ruslan Geremeyev, the former deputy commander of the Chechen police battalion “Sever.” Mukhudinov is wanted and remains at large. In addition, the Investigative Committee reported that there are “other individuals” considered suspects in the case, who, along with Mukhudinov, ordered the perpetrators to kill Nemtsov. Lawyers representing the Nemtsov family have requested that state investigators interrogate Ruslan Geremeyev, but they have never done so.

Read more about the Nemtsov case

Off the hook Joint investigation reveals unpursued leads in Nemtsov murder case

Read more about the Nemtsov case

Off the hook Joint investigation reveals unpursued leads in Nemtsov murder case

Text by Dmitry Tomilov

Translation by Eilish Hart

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