There is a lot of information being disseminated right now about the suspects in the Nemtsov murder being detained. At this point I am inclined to dismiss a lot of it as disinformation and rumors, but here is a summary of what we have been told, so far:
- 1 suspect in Grozny, Chechnya allegedly blew himself up with a grenade this morning, no name has been given;
- 3 men have been arrested in connection with the murder in Moscow;
- 1 of the suspects has been named as Zaur Dadaev;
- A man with the same name served in a Kadyrov-backed armed group in Chechnya for 10 years, and received a Presidential medal for bravery in 2010;
- Police witnesses (who had not been produced before, nor were seen in video footage of the crime) say they can identify the perpetrators of the crime;
- Police are also claiming that the suspects had a list of future targets, 2 men and 1 woman (names unclear).
One theory that is making the rounds is that this is an attack on Ramzan Kadyrov, and could be a way to remove him from power in Chechnya.
Frankly, I’m not convinced by this narrative, but it is an interesting one because it is possible that it is part of a larger clan war, and a showing of cracks in the facade of the Putin system.
Kadyrov has not made any secret of the fact that he supports the war in Ukraine, and Putin personally.
In addition, Kadyrov sent people to the recent anti-Maidan march in Moscow:
Many in the elite do not like Kadyrov, and were never supportive of the decision to make him leader of Chechnya. And the fact that he has troops in Ukraine could be stoking resentments.
Again this is all speculation. One of the problems with Chechnya is that we know almost nothing about what goes on there, so most of what we know is based on rumors.
Chechnya was rebuilt on the Kadyrov personality cult. And if that goes away, is there anything to replace it with? There were rumors recently that Kadyrov could be quietly shifted to Moscow, and replaced (by an unknown figure?), but so far that has come to nothing.
But demoting or replacing Kadyrov without any kind of backlash seems unlikely. It is, of course, possible, but is it probable?
In my opinion, it is more likely that certain clans who are unhappy with Kadyrov are using all of the rumors swirling around to their advantage, and trying to discredit him in the eyes of the public.
I would not be surprised if in the end the narrative becomes that the killers were disenchanted, unemployed layabouts who were taken advantage of by someone who wanted to discredit Kadyrov, and by extension Putin.
This is similar to the story that was told after both journalists Paul Klebnikov and Anya Politkovskaya were murdered. The planner of the murders was eventually declared to be Boris Berezovsky, who was residing in London by then. Berezovsky is, of course, dead, but there are still plenty of critics of the Putin regime sitting in London.
There are too many conflicting stories and I am inclined to dismiss most of them as just rumors, but as the dust settles, it will hopefully become more clear.