Persoverzicht - Maart 2015

2 maart 2015

Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov killed in Moscow: All media report about the killing of prominent Russian opposition politician, deputy of the Yaroslavl regional legislature Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down late on Friday on a bridge in view of the Kremlin in central Moscow. Some media outlets noted that Nemtsov was killed on the newly-established 'Day of Special Operations Forces'. President Putin's spokesman Peskov said the killing has all signs of a contract killing and is a provocation. Investigators are considering at least five possible theories, including 'provocation aimed to destabilize the political situation in the country', as well as 'Islamic extremism' theory and a theory linked to the events in Ukraine. Commentators are confident that Nemtsov's killing will have serious political consequences for Russia. Gazeta.ru compares the assassination to the shooting down of Malaysian Airlines MH17 last year. Leader of the 'Democratic Choice' Vladimir Milov considers Nemtsov's killing a warning to the opposition. Expert Alexei Makarkin, cited by Vedomosti, does not rule out that the authorities would try to soften a standoff between the authorities and the opposition. In the view of analyst Igor Bunin, the killers have planned to use the situation for putting pressure on the Kremlin. Bunin suggests that first gestures made by the authorities mean that a degree of hatred in Russian society may decrease and adds that "Putin and representatives of Russian elite spoke about Nemtsov with respect." At the same time, Nezavisimaya Gazeta points to statements from the West expressing doubts that an adequate investigation would be conducted. Reportedly, the investigative team to probe Nemtsov's murder is headed by Investigative Committee investigator Igor Krasnov, who had been involved in the investigation of high-profile cases in relation to ultranationalists e.g. the case against nationalist Ivan Mironov accused together with retired colonel Kvachkov of involvement in a 2005 assassination attempt on Anatoly Chubais and the case over the 2009 killing of lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova. Sources in law enforcement agencies told RBK daily that nationalists' possible involvement in Nemtsov's murder is becoming a priority theory. The newspaper recalls that an Investigative Committee spokesman earlier did not rule out a theory that nationalists may be behind the killing. Meanwhile, investigators are conducting additional investigative actions in relation to the key witness in the killing, Ukrainian citizen Anna Duritskaya who accompanied Nemtsov at the moment of his murder. In a talk show on Channel One TV channel on Saturday, expert Sergey Markov blamed Ukraine's Security Service for being behind Nemtsov's killing. Media cite Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who claimed that the murder had been organized by Western special services. (All media) 

Militant activity in North Caucasus: The National Antiterrorism Committee said Friday that six militants, including a gang leader, had been killed in an operation in Dagestan's Kizilyurt district. One Interior Troops serviceman was killed in the operation. In a separate incident on Saturday, five Interior Troops servicemen were wounded in an explosion in Chechnya's Urus-Martan district. Nezavisimaya Gazeta also cites concern about participation of Russian nationals in illegal armed groups of the Islamic State. (Gazeta.ru, NG)

3 maart 2015

Probe of opposition politician Nemtsov's killing: Press continues to speculate about possible theories behind the killing of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.  Gazeta.ru reports that former Duma deputy Gennady Gudkov and co-chairman of the RPR-Parnas party Mikhail Kasyanov discussed an idea of sending a letter to President Putin with a proposal to set up a contact group of the opposition which will cooperate with the Investigative Committee in the investigation of the crime. Some commentators, however, cast doubts that the authorities would allow the opposition to control the investigation. Izvestia reports, with reference to a source in law enforcement agencies, that investigators are considering a theory linked to the events in Ukraine. According to the newspaper, the investigators do not rule out that Ukraine's special services and Chechen militants from the so-called 'Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion' fighting against the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk 'People's Republics' might be behind the murder of Nemtsov. The commander of the 'Dzhokhar Dudayev battalion' is Adam Osmayev, who was arrested in 2012 in Ukraine on suspicion of plotting to assassinate President Putin but was released last year.  Izvestia further reports that Nemtsov's killing was aimed to discredit the Russian leadership and destabilize the political situation in the country. In an interview with Novye Izvestia, former police detective Alexander Gurov views as unlikely the theory linked to the events in Ukraine. Gurov considers probable a 'domestic theory' and notes that the fact that the Investigative Committee has offered a reward of RUR3 million (about $50,000) for information on Nemtsov's killing could mean that the probe is in a deadlock. Media report that investigative actions in relation to the key witness in the case, Ukrainian citizen Anna Duritskaya, have been completed and that she has left for Kiev. On Monday, Dozhd ('Rain') TV channel aired an interview with Duritskaya. There are conflicting reports about the availability of surveillance footage showing the slaying: e.g.  Kommersant claimed that there was no CCTV footage of the killing as the cameras in question were turned off for repairs at the moment of Nemtsov's murder. Foreign Minister Lavrov on Monday slammed attempts to politicize the murder of Nemtsov. "This filthy crime will be investigated in the strictest line of law, and those guilty will be held accountable," he is quoted as saying. (ii) Deputy PMs Prikhodko and Dvorkovich, Putin's envoy to the Duma Minkh, the Head of the EU Delegation to Russia Usackas and diplomats from EU Member States attended a memorial service for Nemtsov on Tuesday. Press mentions that Latvian MEP Kalniete and Polish Senate speaker Borusewicz, who planned to attend the ceremony, had been denied entry to Russia. (Gazeta.ru, Izvestia, Kommersant, KP, MK, MT, Novye Izvestia, RBK daily, RG, RIAN) 

10 maart 2015

Islamist motives behind opposition politician Nemtsov's killing?: A Moscow court on Sunday ruled to arrest five suspects in the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov who was killed on 27 February on a bridge near the Kremlin. A sixth suspect has reportedly killed himself after law enforcement officers surrounded his apartment in Grozny (capital of Chechnya). RBK daily recalls that on 7 March, the head of the Federal Security Service (FSB) Bortnikov announced that two suspects had been detained in connection with the murder of Nemtsov. Press names the main suspect in the case a former deputy commander of Chechnya's 'Sever' ('North') police battalion Zaur Dadayev. The latter has reportedly admitted involvement in the crime. Prosecutors have charged Dadayev and another suspect, Anzor Gubashev, with involvement in Nemtsov's killing. Investigators are considering an 'Islamist' theory behind the crime. Nemtsov's lawyer Vadim Prokhorov, cited by RBK daily, did not rule out that the perpetrators, but not the organisers, had been detained. The lawyer added that he knew nothing about alleged threats to Nemtsov over his support for Charlie Hebdo. Some opposition figures are sceptical about religious motives behind Nemtsov's death. In an interview with Novye Izvestia, opposition activist and a close ally of murdered opposition politician Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, said that the key task is to establish the person who had ordered Nemtsov's killing. In an interview with Kommersant, Russian Foreign Ministry's human rights commissioner Dolgov remarks that the West is trying to use the murder of Boris Nemtsov as a "tool for putting pressure on Russia." (ii) Press reports that President Putin awarded Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov with the Order of Honour on the same weekend when Kadyrov described the main suspect in Nemtsov's murder Zaur Dadayev as a "true Russian patriot." On Sunday, Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram account that Dadayev had been "shocked" by publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad by Charlie Hebdo magazine. Putin's spokesman Peskov said that the arrest of the suspects and the award to Kadyrov was a 'coincidence'. Some commentators suggested that the arrest of a former serviceman of the 'Sever' police battalion might be an assault against Kadyrov, who had been very active on the federal level. (Gazeta.ru, Izvestia, Kommersant, KP, MK, MT, Novye Izvestia, RBK daily, RG, Vedomosti; Channel One, Rossiya 1, NTV, Ekho Moskvy) 

Editorial Lines

Vedomosti publishes an editorial on the investigation of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's murder. The first suspects have been arrested and all of them are natives of the North Caucasus. The suspected murderer is Zaur Dadayev. 

Nonetheless, who has actually "ordered" the murder remains unclear. The mass media are actively promoting a version that there was no real 'order' to kill the prominent opposition figure. 

The author reports that on his Instagram account, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov had stated that he knew Zaur Dadayev as a deeply religious person who was shocked about the events around Charlie Hebdo. This creates an alibi for the murderer, as if he was angered by Boris Nemtsov's support for the French magazine and wanted to take revenge. Overall, the Instagram remark has a strange tone – as if it is trying to justify the murder. 

The author argues that the theory of an 'Islamist trail' looks rather strange and nonsensical. http://www.vedomosti.ru/newspaper/articles/2015/03/09/ot-redaktsii-otritsanie-zakazchika

Blogs monitoring 

In an interview with Ekho Moskvy, opposition activist Ilya Yashin expresses his opinion about opposition politician Boris Nemtsov's murder. He argues that at the moment there are not enough facts concerning the suspects, and the government needs to present more direct evidence. 

He argues that it is rather strange how Zaur Dadayev was previously awarded an order of courage and shortly after committed a murder near the Kremlin. 

In turning to whether Nemtsov expressed anti-Chechen sentiment, Yashin argues that he criticized the Russian government far more often. Furthermore, Yashin explains that it is essential for the opposition to stay strong despite this psychological shock. In his view, Mikhail Kasyanov could become the "next Nemtsov". 

11 maart 2015

Main suspect in opposition politician Nemtsov's killing denies involvement: The main suspect in the case over the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, former servicemen of Chechnya's 'Sever' police battalion Zaud Dadayev, has reportedly denied his involvement in the crime. According to some reports, the suspects had been watching Nemtsov in 2014, i.e. before the Charlie Hebdo tragedy. In an editorial, Novaya Gazeta claims about a standoff between Kadyrovtsy (supporters of Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov) and law enforcement agencies over the murder of Nemtsov and adds that the outcome of this conflict would depend on President Putin's decision. (Gazeta.ru, Kommersant, MK, NG, Novaya Gazeta)  

Editorial Lines

In an editorial, Nezavisimaya Gazeta addresses the investigation of Boris Nemtsov's murder. The author argues that the investigation of the case and final conclusions about the suspected murderer will surely leave part of the population sceptical, especially because Nemtsov has never been considered a critic of Islam. 

The possible version that members of the government may be involved in the murder was instantly pushed aside and considered "least likely" and senseless. 

The author argues that the current theory has a compromising character. On one hand, the Kremlin and Russian security services are not involved, and on the other hand, the West or Ukraine are not blamed for the murder. A common enemy has been found – radical nationalists or radical Islamists.

Finally, it is argued that the Chechen background of the murder is advantageous for the most conservative and radical forces in Russia. The ultra-conservatives are dedicated to Russia's further isolation. 


12 maart 2015

Investigators accuse human rights activists of interference in Nemtsov murder probe: Human rights activist Andrey Babushkin and journalist Eva Merkacheva on Tuesday visited three suspects in the case over the assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.  According to earlier reports, the main suspect in the case, former Chechen police officer Zaur Dadayev has admitted involvement in the murder. After visiting the suspects at Moscow's pre-trial detention centre, Babushkin claimed that Dadayev might have confessed under torture. Later, Babushkin was interrogated by investigators. Media point out that investigators accuse human rights activists of interference in the probe. (ii) Press reports that Khodorkovsky's spokeswoman found a funeral wreath outside her Moscow apartment on Wednesday. Earlier, Novaya Gazeta reported about an alleged 'hit list' of Russian politicians and journalists.  (Gazeta.ru, MK, MT, NG, Novye Izvestia, RBK daily, RG, Vedomosti)

13 maart 2015

Blogs monitoring 

Bloggers are speculating about reasons behind Vladimir Putin's absence. The President has not been seen on television for several days, and rumours have been spreading about his health. 

Anton Nosik argues that he does not understand the sudden wave of hype among social media users in relation to Putin's health. The blogger argues that the Russian public cannot simply "hope" that the President is ill and will resign. It is also naïve and self-deceiving to think that after Putin, life in Russia may change drastically to the better – on the contrary it will be very difficult to create order and Russia may experience more difficult times.  

Alexander Zelichenko argues that if we suppose that President Putin is indeed ill, and if hypothetically the power goes back to the people, then everything may get even more chaotic than it is now. Specifically because there is no plan for the country's future and few know where Russia is heading. 

In light of Nemtsov's murder, Ilya Milshtein argues that it can become very dangerous if Russia is brewing these internal 'Al-Qaeda' types of groups that are ready to commit such crimes. The blogger emphasizes the danger of the growth of such criminal groups especially at such tense political times in the country. According to the blogger, the government has crafted this situation and eventually used it to show the public that they are able to imprison such "radical" groups and protect society. 

Vadim Denisenko argues that Putin is in confrontation with other government representatives due to Nemtsov's murder. The blogger speculates that Nemtsov's murder will signify that Russia has once again begun a war with Chechnya. Many were already getting fed up with the large amounts of money being given to Chechnya from the federal budget– almost making Kadyrov the second most important politician in Russia. There are suggestions that it looks like a special operation to "weaken" Kadyrov's influence. 

Famous Russian Facebook and Twitter users have commented on how helicopters have landed on the roof of the FSB building in Lubyanka. Others argue that these rumours are stemming from fear and difficult times and that President Putin is alive and well but is undergoing plastic surgery. 





16 maart 2015

First anniversary of Crimean referendum: RBK Daily publishes a series of articles on Crimea. One story is dedicated to the costs of the annexation, which according to RBK calculations is more than 125 billion of RUR. Subsidies for Chechnya or Ingushetia slightly exceed this amount. Public procurement in Crimea in the last year was more than 1.3 billion roubles. In his interview to RBK, Russian Minister for Crimean affairs Mr. Oleg Savelyev addresses the problems that the peninsula faces today including transport isolation, rising of prices, backwardness of infrastructure, western sanctions and many others. (RBK Daily)     

17 maart 2015

Nemtsov assassination: charges changed: According to reports, law enforcement had changed the charges against the suspects, replacing the charge of murder motivated by greed or mercenary purposes with that of murder based on "political, ideological, racial, ethnic or religious hatred or enmity. This means that there was no contract and there was no contractor.  Three more suspects in last month's assassination of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov have been officially charged with his murder. Totally five Chechen men were arrested this month in connection with Nemtsov's murder. (RBK daily, Kommersant, Interfax, Nezavisimaya Gazeta)  

25 maart 2015

EU in the Russian Press

Vedomosty reports on the recent decisions of the ECHR in relation to the Chechen case


GroenDe enige partij die sociaal én milieuvriendelijk is.


De Groenen/EVAGroenen en Europese Vrije Alliantie in het Europees Parlement.


Samen ijveren voor een beter Europa en klimaat?