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Court Sentences Russian Opposition Politician Nemtsov’s Killer to 20 Years
13 July, 2017
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The court identified Zaur Dadaev as Nemtsov’s assassin Photo credit: MAXIM SHIPENKOV, EPA

A Moscow district military court has delivered a sentence in the murder case of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov.

Zaur Dadaev, who the court identified as Nemtsov’s direct assassin, was sentenced to 20 years in a maximum security prison colony, the Russian independent news site Meduza reported. The court also handed Dadaev a fine of 200 thousand rubles (around $3,300) and stripped him of the Russian Order of Bravery.

Four other individuals implicated in the murder were also handed lengthy prison sentences.

Previously, on June 29, a Moscow jury found Dadaev guilty of murdering Nemtsov.

The prosecution had requested the court sentence him to life in prison.

A veteran of Russian politics, Nemtsov was shot dead not far from Moscow’s Red Square while walking home on the night of February 27, 2015.  

In the 1990s, Nemtsov had served as a reformist governor of Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region and as the country’s deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin. However, in recent years, the politician had become a staunch opponent of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Before his death, Nemtsov had dedicated significant efforts to investigating tendentious subjects like corruption and involvement of Russian soldiers in Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Dadaev, a former soldier in Chechnya’s “Sever” military battalion, was one of five people indicted for killing Nemtsov in an alleged contract killing widely believed to be politically motivated.

All the suspects categorically denied their guilt. However, video recordings of the first interrogations of Dadaev and his co-defendant Anzor Gubashev show the two suspects confessing. They claimed that Nemtsov’s political views and statements he had made that allegedly insulted the feelings of religious Muslims served as the motive for the killing.

However, Nemtsov’s family and supporters insist that the real organizers of the killing remain at large. Until they are identified and brought to trial, there can be no justice.

“This was a very flawed investigation and a fairly flawed court with a flawed result,” Vadim Prokhorov, the Nemtsov family’s lawyer, said. “At the present, the Nemtsov case is NOT closed.”

The family will begin the process of searching for the organizers of Nemtsov’s murder, using “all possible mechanisms, including international,” he added.

The Moscow district military court began examining the case in October 2016.

Previously, the Russian Federation’s State Prosecutor’s office announced that witnesses to Nemtsov’s murder had disappeared. However, in May 2017, investigators interrogated the principal witness.

/by Matthew Kupfer, @Matthew_Kupfer