Ilya Yashin, a close ally of murdered Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, says he is “totally skeptical” that the two men charged organized his killing.
“The trigger man will be blamed, while those who actually ordered the killing will go free,” Ilya Yashin, co-founder of Boris Nemtsov’s party, said on March 8.
Ilya Yashin’s comments came after two men of Chechen origin were charged with his murder and three others arrested.
He rejected suggestions radical Islamists were behind the murder.
“The investigators’ nonsensical theory about Islamist motives in the killing suits the Kremlin and takes [President Vladimir] Putin out of the firing line,” Ilya Yashin said on Twitter.
On March 8, a court in Moscow charged Zaur Dadayev and Anzor Gubashev with shooting Boris Nemtsov on a bridge near the Kremlin on January 27. Zaur Dadayev had admitted his involvement, the court said.
Three other suspects were remanded in custody. A sixth man was reported to have killed himself in a standoff with police in the Chechen capital Grozny.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, an ally of President Vladimir Putin, described Zaur Dadayev as a devout Muslim who was shocked by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
“All who know Zaur [Dadayev] confirm that he is a deep believer and also that he, like all Muslims, was shocked by the activities of Charlie and comments in support of printing the cartoons,” he said.
Along with other Russian politicians and activists, Boris Nemtsov had condemned the killing of 12 journalists at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo by Islamist extremists.
Boris Nemtsov also criticized threats made by the Chechen leader towards those who did not condemn cartoons published by Charlie Hebdo.
Ramazan Kadyrov had declared former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky his “personal enemy” for urging other papers to republish the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. He had also said Ekho Mosvky editor-in-chief Alexei Venediktov “would be called to account” after his station’s website ran a poll on whether media should publish similar cartoons.
This prompted Boris Nemtsov to accuse Ramazan Kadyrov of violating Russia’s Criminal Code by infringing journalists’ activities.
“Everybody is already sick and tired of Ramzan’s threats, but he is certain that [President Vladimir] Putin will not let anyone touch him, so he is growing increasingly brazen every day,” Boris Nemtsov wrote on his Facebook page in January.
However, Ilya Yashin said he did not believe Boris Nemtsov’s killers were from outside Russia, calling his murder “an act of terror to scare society”.
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been released from prison after serving a 15-day sentence for handing out leaflets to promote a protest rally.
Alexei Navalny left a Moscow detention centre a week after the killing of Boris Nemtsov.
The March 1 rally for which Alexei Navalny was leafleting instead became a mourning march for Boris Nemtsov.
Alexei Navalny says the legal cases against him are politically motivated.
In 2014, Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg were found guilty of stealing 30 million rubles ($462,000) from two companies.
Oleg Navalny was given a 3-and-a-half-year jail sentence, while Alexei Navalny received a suspended sentence that prosecutors say they will appeal against.
Speaking to reporters after his release on March 6, he vowed to continue his work despite the murder of Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead outside the Kremlin walls in what his allies say was a political killing.
“Our activity won’t change at all, we won’t reduce our efforts, we won’t step back,” Alexei Navalny said.
“That terrorist act didn’t achieve its aim, it didn’t frighten anyone, doesn’t frighten me or my associates.”
Vladimir Putin’s critic and former Deputy PM Boris Nemtsov has been shot dead in central Moscow, Russian officials say.
An unidentified gunman, in a car, shot Boris Nemtsov four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police say.
The Russian opposition leader died hours after appealing for support for a march on March 1 in Moscow against the war in Ukraine.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has condemned the murder, the Kremlin says.
Vladimir Putin has assumed “personal control” of the investigation into the killing, said his spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
It “bears the hallmarks of a contract killing,” said Dmitry Peskov.
President Barack Obama condemned the “brutal murder” and called on the Russian government to conduct a “prompt, impartial and transparent investigation”.
Thorbjorn Jagland, secretary general of the Council of Europe, condemned the killing, saying in a tweet: “I am shocked and appalled key opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot. Killers must be brought to justice.”
In a recent interview, Boris Nemtsov had said he feared Vladimir Putin would have him killed because of his opposition to the war in Ukraine.
Boris Nemtsov, 55, served as first deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s.
He had earned a reputation as an economic reformer while governor of one of Russia’s biggest cities, Nizhny Novgorod.
Falling out of favor with Boris Yeltsin’s successor, Vladimir Putin, he became an outspoken opposition politician.
Boris Nemtsov was shot at around 23:40 on Friday, February 27, while crossing Moskvoretsky Bridge accompanied by a woman, Russia’s interior ministry said.
He was shot with a pistol from a white car which fled the scene, a police source told Russia’s Interfax news agency.
According to Russian-language news website Meduza, “several people” got out of a car and shot him.
One of the politician’s colleagues in his RPR-Parnassus party, Ilya Yashin, confirmed Boris Nemtsov’s death.
Flowers were left at the site of the shooting through the night.
In his last tweet, Boris Nemtsov sent out an appeal for Russia’s divided opposition to unite at an anti-war march he was planning for Sunday.
“If you support stopping Russia’s war with Ukraine, if you support stopping Putin’s aggression, come to the Spring March in Maryino on March 1,” he wrote.
Speaking earlier this month to Russia’s Sobesednik news website, Boris Nemtsov had spoken of his fears for his own life.
“I’m afraid Putin will kill me,” he said on February 10.
“I believe that he was the one who unleashed the war in the Ukraine,” Boris Nemtsov added.