NEWSWATCH: The Nemtsov Murder and the FSB

Boris Nemtsov file photo

[“The Nemtsov Murder and the FSB” – Tom Rogan – The National Review – March 2, 2015]

Tom Rogan, writing in The National Review, covers the assassination in Moscow of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. He points to signs of involvement by the Russian government security services, particularly the FSB.

Nemtsov opposed not only the Putin regime but the related kleptocracy with bravado, making him the target for extensive spying by government security forces and likely earning Putin’s wrath.

His murder demands our scrutiny. It reeks of Russian intelligence. First off, Nemtsov’s murder, in nearly every detail, fits the profile of the typical Russian political assassination. A public critic of Vladimir Putin, Nemtsov had long been subject to spying efforts – both in-person surveillance and recordings of his phone conversations – from the Federal Security Services, the FSB (the successor to the KGB). But as the BBC’s John Sweeney has pointed out, Nemtsov was not only critical, but flamboyantly so …. He also took moral pleasure in aggravating Russian kleptocrats. For this forthrightness, Putin surely hated Nemtsov – whether in Ukraine or elsewhere, Vladimir Putin regards such gall as a direct challenge to his personal power, a cardinal sin to be punished. …

The tactics used in the assassination are said to point to security services involvement as well.

There are other ways in which this murder bears the hallmarks of Russian intelligence. Watch the video of Nemtsov’s murder: It’s only when a government vehicle conceals Nemtsov from other drivers and the camera that the murderers strike. After executing Nemtsov, the shooter runs to a getaway car that has timed its approach to coincide with the attack. The team escapes and Nemtsov bleeds out. This isn’t the work of a few thugs. The clinical timing (synchronized staging, concealment, execution, escape) and the selected location (a bridge that offers no spot where Nemtsov could take cover) strongly suggest the culprits had military and intelligence training.

Even the choice old Saint Basil’s is said to fit a modus operandi of dark symbolism.

The backdrop of Moscow’s Saint Basil’s Cathedral might offer another hint of Russian-intelligence involvement. … Russian intelligence takes pride in its fetish for dark messaging. Whether deliberate or coincidental, Nemtsov’s murder under the Cathedral’s gaze evokes the idea of Putin as the supreme master of Russia’s destiny. ….

The author also asks, if Nemtsov was under FSB surveillance, why did the FSB not step in to help him and apprehend the assailants.

The aftermath of the assassination, including the government seizing documents from Nemtsov’s home and holding his Ukrainian girlfriend under armed guard with only limited consulate access, and claims by a snowplow driver who passed the attackers that he did not see the gunman, also are pointed to as subjects of concern.

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