Rome–Not surprisingly, the investigation of the February murder in Moscow of Boris Nemtsov, the liberal opposition politician, remains stuck at the lowest common denominator of suspects, the alleged hitmen, some of whom say they weren’t involved at all.

Boris Nemtsov (r) and Vladimir Putin

Who might have ordered the killing and why seems beyond the reach of Vladimir Putin’s investigators.

The Kremlin has settled on religious hatred as the reason why a group of Chechens tailed Nemtsov and gunned him down on February 27 as he crossed Bolshoy Moskvoretsky bridge with a friend. Supposedly it was all because the pious Muslim killers from the Chechen Republic were upset because Nemtsov criticized the murderers of the staff of Charlie Hebdo, the satirical journal, for printing images of the Prophet Mohammed.

Other possible reasons might draw the motives closer to Russia, if anyone bothers to consider this a political assassination rather than the work of nutty fanatics. Nemtsov’s investigation into Russia’s military involvement in Ukraine, perhaps. Or something having to do with the extreme religious-militaristic government of Ramzan Kadyrov, Putin’s client ruler of Chechnya and possible contract killer. Putin has a lot to lose in Chechnya, kept stable by Kadyrov after two civil wars late last century and a lingering, low intensity one in neighboring Dagestan.

Anyway, the Kremlin assiduously avoids use of the term political to describe Nemtsov’s murder. Somehow, I think the case will remain at the Charlie Hebdo level of motive and with the current suspects.

A roundup of the investigation and its murkiness.

Anna Nemtsova at Daily Beast looks at the Chechen angle.

Nemtsov’s report on Russian involvement in Ukraine.


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