Nemtsov Murder Book – One Tiny Detail

Over on Colonel Cassad’s blog, I saw this piece by somebody named Alexei Zotiev.

Zotiev has a theory that (back in February), Alexei Navalny knew in advance that some Oppositionist (not necessarily Boris Nemtsov) was to be assassinated on a certain date or timeline.  Zotiev’s reasoning and evidence are a bit thin, and don’t allow for normal glitches and coincidences which happen everyday in life.  However, it merits at least a paragraph in the Boris Nemtsov Murder Book.  And if this were a fictional murder mystery, as opposed to real life, it might even be a crucial clue.

Here, as concisely as I am able, is a summary of Zotiev’s reasoning:

Backstory and Timeline

  • In early 2015, the “non-systemic” Russian Opposition, led by Boris Nemtsov, was planning a “massive” demonstration in Moscow.  They were hoping for a crowd of at least 100,000 people demonstrating against the Putin government and its “annexation” of Crimea.  However, indications and polls showed that the demonstration might not attract as many participants as the organizers would have hoped for.  Given Putin’s high approval rating, and the popularity of the Crimean Reunification.
  • On 15 February Alexei Navalny suddenly popped up in the Moscow subway, handing out fliers for the demonstration, which was to be called “Russian Spring”.  The odd thing, though, is that Navalny was not listed as one of the organizers; nor had the real organizers submitted their application to the police yet, hence the date for the demonstration had not even been set.  Therefore, Navalny’s fliers were a bit sketchy, they didn’t offer the readers a firm date or time to show up for the demonstration.
  • Due to the fact that Navalny was on probation, even home arrest, and that handing out fliers was on the list of things he was not supposed to do (since he had been earlier convicted of organizing illegal meetings), this act of his in the subway immediately placed him in the category of “violated probation” and subjected him to arrest.
  • In a segment of this ongoing puppet theater, Navalny was duly led into the police station that day, 15 February.  A few hours later, he was released, but ordered to return on 19 February for his court hearing on his probation violation.
  • The following day, 16 February, the actual organizers of the “Russian Spring” demonstration put in their application to the Moscow authorities for permission to hold the demonstration, naming March 1 as the designated day.
  • Three days later, on Thursday, 19 February – [and here the Zotiev piece has a gross typo, twice they type “March” when they mean “February”, which kind of ruins their story and forced me to double-fact-check it] Navalny showed up in Moscow court for his probation hearing.  The judge sentenced him to 15 days in the slammer, which meant that he would miss the March 1 demonstration – O sorrow!
  • While Navalny was cooling his heels in the lock-up, Boris Nemtsov was brutally assassinated (4 bullets in the back) on the evening of 27 February.
  • On March 1, the Oppositionists, instead of their planned “mass demonstration”, had a “martyrs lament” instead mourning for their fallen hero, Boris Nemtsov.
  • On March 6, Navalny emerged from the lock-up, having served his time for his act of meaningless defiance in the subway.  And missing both the assassination and the mass reaction to it.

Putting together these odd facts, Zotiev concludes that Navalny “knew” that some Opposition Leader or another was slated to be whacked, most likely to create a martyr and beef up the crowd for the Opps demonstration.  He doesn’t think that Navalny had anything to do with Nemtsov’s killing, but does believe that Navalny knew that something was up, and just wanted to make sure that the role of “sacrificial goat” did not fall upon himself (=Navalny).  Hence, it was safer to hide himself away from the world for a few days.

Well, that’s Zotiev’s theory, at least.  For what it’s worth.

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6 Responses to Nemtsov Murder Book – One Tiny Detail

  1. Cortes says:

    Very film noir theory. Rings a bell; will have a think and try to get back.


      • Cortes says:

        Still can’t recall it. Chicago Tribune has this story:

        Lawrence Block’s “The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza” (1993) includes a detail which would appear in a famous case: the glove which didn’t fit, and I am sure that there’s a movie or story where a protagonist gets himself jailed so as to be out of circulation at a tasty time.


          • Cortes says:

            Don’t know that one.

            Still trying to trawl from the aging brain the real answer, but meantime this from Auntie Beeb struck me:

            The BBC’s Richard Galpin asked Mr Khodorkovsky whether he felt at risk in light of the murders of prominent opponents of Mr Putin in recent years. Among them was former secret agent Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned with radioactive polonium in a London hotel in 2006.
            “The history of deaths of opponents of this regime is impressive… but I was in jail for 10 years, I could have…

            PS my interweb skills are Neanderthal. No reply necessary. Just took me 20 minutes to locate this thread.


            • yalensis says:

              Dear Cortes:
              What is the end of Mr. Khodorkovsky’s sentence?

              “I could have …. been a victim too.”
              “I could have …. killed ’em all myself.”
              “I could have …. been a CONTENDER out there in the boxing ring.”


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