A Russian newspaper has published a photo purporting to show the alleged killers of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in their getaway car in central Moscow. The 55-year-old former deputy prime minister was fatally shot on Feb. 27, near the Kremlin.
The photo was published by tabloid newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets (MK) on Tuesday, showing the prime suspect in the case, Zaur Dadaev, who pleaded guilty on Sunday to killing Nemtsov. Dadaev, who is said to be a friend of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is reportedly seen riding with an accomplice on the left side.
The car shown in the photo -- a silver-colored ZAZ Chance -- is one of three vehicles police suspect the killers used on the day of Nemtsov’s murder, RT News, a local news outlet reported. The car was reportedly bought from a woman in the Moscow Region in September 2014 and had been spotted near Nemtsov’s house in downtown Moscow later in the year, MK reported.
— МК (@mkomsomolets) March 10, 2015
Although it was unclear when the photo was taken, RT News reported, citing MK, that the picture is from surveillance footage taken several weeks before the murder, while another report claimed it was taken shortly before the murder.
Nemtsov was reportedly walking over the Great Moskvoretsky Bridge near the Kremlin in Moscow with his girlfriend, Anna Durytska, when a man rushed out of a car behind him and shot him four times. Nemtsov, a vocal critic of Putin, had received several death threats over the years, and had expressed a suspicion that Putin wanted him dead.
On Friday, police arrested five suspects -- identified as Dadaev, brothers Anzar and Shagid Gubashev, Ramzan Bakhaev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov -- in connection with Nemtsov’s murder, while a sixth suspect blew himself up with a grenade in Grozny, Chechnya, when law enforcement officials tried to take him into custody.
The motive behind Nemtsov's assassination remains unclear, but police suspect Dadaev and some of his accomplices were paid to carry out the hit in retaliation for Nemtsov’s criticism of Islamist gunmen involved in the attack on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in January. However, some of Nemtsov’s close allies believe the hit was orchestrated by high-level Russian officials for his criticism of Putin's administration.
Dadaev reportedly said that he planned the crime in revenge for Nemtsov’s “negative comments on Muslims and Islam,” and alleged that he “learnt that Boris Nemtsov more than once allowed himself negative comments on Muslims living in Russia, the Prophet Mohammad and Islam,” in January 2015, a police source told the Rosbalt news agency on Monday, according to RT News. “As a matter of fact, Dadaev acknowledged having organized this crime.”
But, according to some reports, if it is confirmed that the picture was taken near Nemtsov's house last autumn, it would undermine the Charlie Hebdo link to the assassination.
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) March 10, 2015