Russia braces for release of Nemtsov report on Ukraine war

Controversial report into Russian soldiers fighting in eastern Ukraine to be released tomorrow

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Updated Jul 28, 2015

Opposition activists in Russia led by Ilya Yashin have completed a report into President Vladimir Putin’s war on Ukraine that was originally started by assassinated opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Boris Nemtsov, a leading critic of President Putin and former Deputy Prime Minister, was shot and killed in central Moscow near Kremlin on Feb. 27 while walking on the street less than 200 meters from Kremlin.

He was returning from an interview where he invited people to a rally against war in Ukraine, which is to be held that weekend in Moscow.

Two days before his murder, Nemtsov had approached his friend Ilya Yashin for help on a report he was working on supposedly providing details on Russian soldiers fighting alongside pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine.  

After Nemtsov’s death, Yashin took over the project, called Putin.War, and now the report has been completed and is due to be published on Tuesday.

However, Yashin has already encountered problems in publishing the controversial report.

“Printing shops are being pressured, and so it’s going to take a real special operation to print a big run in May. We have experience with this, and Boris Nemtsov had experience with this,” Yashin told RFE/RL.

Shortly after Nemtsov was killed, investigators confiscating computers, hard drives, contact books and notebooks from his apartment, Yashin revealed, before the lost documents were restored with the help of his assistants and his employees, many of whom could not be convinced to go on record with their evidence.

“As you can imagine, the death of Nemtsov did not make them bolder,” Yashin said. “We spoke to them, and we really did get specific, really important information from them, but they categorically declined to speak publicly.”

The report will be shared with journalists in Moscow at the headquarters of the RPR-PARNAS party, which was founded by Nemtsov before his death.

Around 3,000 hard copies of the report have been printed so far, with more printing planned in the future. An online version of the report will also be released.

A similar report prepared by Nemtsov  into corruption under Putin’s reign was targeted by Russian authorities in 2010 when police seized a car carrying 100,000 hard copies of the report, while the website which published the report was also hit by cyberattacks.

Nemtsov’s daughter, 30-year-old TV presenter Zhanna Nemtsova, slammed Putin after her father’s assassination, saying he bears the “political responsibility” for the murder.

Zaur Dadayev, a former Chechen police officer, admitted to taking part in the murder of Nemtsov and was immediately charged along with a second Chechen suspect, Anzor Gubashev. Three other men - Gubashev's younger brother Shagid, Khamzad Bakhaev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov - were also remanded.

Russian news reports meanwhile cited unnamed sources as saying another suspect had killed himself with a grenade after police blocked his apartment in Grozny, the capital of the Republic of Chechnya.

However, Kremlin official Andrei Babushkin said there were signs that Dadayev had confessed to the murder under torture, adding he had seen "numerous wounds" on the body of suspect when he visited him in his cell.

TRTWorld and agencies