Russia Raises Chechen Link in Arrests for Politician’s Killing

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Russia charged two men with the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and said three more suspects had been arrested.

Russian investigators formally charged two men, including one with ties to the Kremlin-backed leader of Chechnya, with the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and said three more suspects had been arrested in the case.

The string of arrests, which began Saturday, was a dramatic turn in the high-profile case, in which Western leaders have called on the Kremlin to conduct a transparent and complete probe. Officials on Sunday gave no indication of the possible motive for the killing and gave few details on the five suspects. Russian media reports said the men came from the mostly Muslim Caucasus region and one had served as a police officer in Chechnya, where Russia has battled Islamist rebels over the past two decades.

The two men arraigned on Sunday were charged with committing murder in a group for commercial gain, a charge usually used in prosecuting contract killings, the Interfax news agency reported, citing court documents. The three other men are expected to be charged in the coming days.

Investigators gave no indication Sunday of whether they had identified any suspects in ordering the killing, but the court materials said other suspects were still being sought. Within hours of the Feb. 27 murder, President Vladimir Putin ’s spokesman said the slaying appeared to be a contract killing and seemed designed to be “provocative”—an effort to discredit the Kremlin and destabilize the political situation in Russia.

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