5 Chechens Held, 2 Charged in Nemtsov Killing

MOSCOW (Los Angeles Times/TNS) -

Five men from the Caucasus region of southern Russia were brought Sunday before a Moscow court where two were charged for their alleged roles in the killing of Kremlin critic Boris Y. Nemtsov.

One of the charged suspects, former Chechen police commander Zaur Dadayev, pleaded guilty to the charge, the official Tass news agency reported.

“Dadayev’s involvement is confirmed by his confession,” Judge Natalya Mushnikova of the Basmanny district court was quoted as announcing after the arraignment.

Charges were also brought against Anzor Gubashev, who was arrested Saturday in the Ingushetia region of the Caucasus. Three other suspects were ordered held for further investigation, court press secretary Anna Fadeyeva said.

The three men held without charges were identified as Khamzat Bakhayev, Tamerlan Eskerkhanov and Shagit Gubashev.

Reports by the official Tass and Sputnik news agencies shed little light on a possible motive for the Feb. 27 slaying of Nemtsov, a former first deputy prime minister once seen as a possible president of Russia before the rise of the current Kremlin leader, Vladimir Putin.

Interfax news agency quoted an unidentified Chechen security officer as saying that another suspect in Nemtsov’s killing blew himself up with a hand grenade as police moved in to arrest him at his apartment in Grozny, the Chechen capital.

Chechnya, a purportedly autonomous republic of Russia, has been under heavy military and federal security occupation since two secessionist uprisings were quelled in the 1990s.