A portrait of Boris Nemtsov brandished during the march organized in his homage in Moscow, March 1, 2015. MINDAUGAS KULBIS / AP
The survey is empty. This is the substance of the opinion delivered on Tuesday, July 11, by the European Court of Human Rights on the investigations conducted by Russia after the death of opponent Boris Nemtsov, killed by several gunshots on 27 February 2015 on a bridge near the Kremlin.
“The Court finds in particular that the Russian authorities failed to adequately investigate the identity of the persons who had organized and ordered the assassination; that they did not examine either the allegations that the assassination could have been dictated by a political motive or the hypothesis of the possible participation of certain State officials; and that they did not determine the motive of those who might have bribed the perpetrators to assassinate Mr. Nemtsov”, writes the Court in its judgment, concluding that “overall, the investigation was characterized by a lack of effectiveness”.
The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) had been seized by Zhanna Borisovna Nemtsova, the daughter of Boris Nemtsov. The Court recalls that a murder investigation was opened the day after the death of the famous opponent, leading to the arrest of six suspects. One of them had claimed that the assassination was a reaction to Mr Nemtsov’s support for the publication of caricatures of Muhammad in the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdobefore retracting, explaining that he had delivered this version under duress.
Questions not asked
On the other hand, according to the ECHR, several elements of the investigation “suggested that interactions had taken place [entre] officials of the Chechen Interior Ministry and the suspects”. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a close ally of Vladimir Putin, as well as the Russian federal authorities were the recurring target of criticism from Boris Nemtsov, who accused them of corruption, notes the court based on relatives of the victim quoted by the Russian investigation. The ECHR judgment also finds that after Mr. Nemtsov’s death, Ramzan Kadyrov praised one of the suspects on a social network, describing him as “true patriot” and one “brave soldier”.
“In October 2015, a certain R. Mukh was charged in connection with the homicide as it was alleged that he and “other unidentified persons” ordered the murder and offered a reward of 15 million Russian rubles [150 000 euros] to the alleged perpetrators”writes the ECHR, adding that at the time of the trial of the suspects, ” the judge (…) refused to allow certain questions to be put to witnesses about the possible political connotations of the murder”. As for the appeal lodged by Ms. Nemtsova at the end of the trial, asking to reclassify the facts as political assassination, it was rejected in 2017.