This is A version of events that I am going to put out there. The author, Igor Eidman, says he has constructed it based on “information from open sources”, so there is no secret information, and it contains no real surprises, but it is worth considering.
According to Eidman, Putin ordered Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov to organize the murder of Nemtsov, and Kadyrov passed the responsibility off to Alimbek Delimkhanov (the leader of the Sever Battalion and Kadyrov’s cousin). The FSO (the Federal Protective Service) was assigned to oversee the hit. The FSB (Federal Security Service) was left out in the cold, and was completely unaware of what was happening.
“The arrest of the perpetrators was not planned,” Eidman alleges. The plan had been to blame “certain forces abroad interested in undermining the political stability of Russia”. This narrative had been suggested earlier by Ilya Ponomarev who said the trail could lead to Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who is currently living in exile in Europe.
However, this version of events failed because “the FSB decided to take advantage of the situation and settle scores with Kadyrov…” Kadyrov had apparently been encroaching on their turf in Moscow by running extortion rings, etc.
“The FSB pretended to believe Putin’s declared desire [for law enforcement] to find the killers, and they arrested the perpetrators.”
So the Kremlin was forced to change their story and concocted the fiction that the murderers were offended by Nemtsov’s support for the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. However, the FSB rejected this, and “demanded the heads of Delimkhanov and Geremeev” [Eidman doesn’t mention the first name, so I’m not sure if he means the Senator or his nephew Ruslan who is a deputy of Delimkhanov in Sever, according to Novaya Gazeta]. Kadyrov, of course, refused.”
Putin was shocked that his closest colleagues had betrayed him, Eidman claims. “After all, everybody knows that Delimkhanov would not act without orders from Kadyrov and Kadyrov would not give such an order without the consent of his Kremlin boss.”
So Putin disappeared to Valdai. And Putin has forced the FSB to return to the first version of events. And state media have started to again blame “foreign customers”. Eventually things will calm down and everything will go back to the status quo, Eidman alleges.
This is most coherent version of events that I have seen to date. Whether or not they are true is another matter. I am inclined to believe that Putin is just waiting out the storm around the Nemtsov murder. Now everybody is so focused on Putin, the Nemtsov murder investigation has been pushed to the side. Something that must surely suit the Kremlin.