Russian authorities arrested four men Saturday in connection with the shooting death of a leading opposition figure, Russian state media reported.
Boris Nemtsov, one of President Vladimir Putin’s most outspoken critics, was shot in the back on a Moscow bridge as he walked with his girlfriend near the Kremlin in late February.
Surveillance video showed someone darting from the sidewalk and into a nearby car right after Nemtsov collapsed.
Putin has been informed of the arrests in connection with Nemtsov’s death, Russian media said, citing Federal Security Service director Alexander Bortnikov.
Two of the suspects are Anzor Gubashev and Zaur Dadayev, Bortnikov said in a televised statement.
The slain opposition leader’s daughter, Zhanna Nemtsova, told CNN she is “not surprised both of them [are] of Caucasus origin. It was predictable.”
Nemtsova said the only things she knew about the arrests came from media reports, as authorities did not contact her immediately.
Later Saturday, a southern Russian law enforcement official told state news agency RIA Novosti that two more men were arrested.
The two men were arrested in the southern republic of Ingushetia, said Albert Barahoev, the secretary of Ingushetia Security Council, according to RIA Novosti.
The suspects in the second arrest were not named, but one of them was driving with Dadayev, and the other man is Gubashev’s younger brother, Barahoev said. All four suspects are ethnic Chechens, according to Barahoev.
Opposition blames Putin
After Nemtsov’s shooting Putin blamed extremists and protesters who he said were trying to stir internal strife in Russia.
Many opposition sympathizers and people close to Nemtsov have pointed the finger at Putin and the Russian government he leads. They note that Nemtsov — the deputy prime minister under former President Boris Yeltsin — is the latest in a list of Putin’s opponents who have been killed or imprisoned.
Nemtsov had also been arrested several times for speaking against the government.
In her first TV interview since her father’s death, Nemtsova told CNN Putin shares “political responsibility” for her father’s assassination. She spoke from Germany.
“I don’t believe in the official investigation,” she said on Saturday.
Jailed or killed
Other opposition figures previously jailed or killed include Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist critical of Russia’s war in Chechnya. She was gunned down at the entrance to her Moscow apartment in 2006.
There was also business magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky, who backed an opposition party and accused Putin of corruption. Khodorkovsky landed in jail after a conviction on tax fraud, which he said was a ploy to take away his oil company. The government rejected the claim. Putin pardoned him in 2013.
Former Russian security agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned by a lethal dose of radioactive polonium, his tea spiked in a London hotel during a meeting with two former Russian security servicemen in 2006.
He had blamed the agency for orchestrating a series of apartment bombings in Russia in 1999 that left hundreds dead and led to Russia’s invasion of Chechnya later that year.
The Kremlin has staunchly denied accusations that it or its agents are targeting political opponents or had anything to do with the deaths.
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