Two charged with Nemtsov killing include former Chechen policeman

admin   •   March 9, 2015   •   2605

Tamerlan Eskerkhanov, detained over the killing of Boris Nemtsov, is escorted inside a court building in Moscow, March 8, 2015.
CREDIT: REUTERS/MAXIM SHEMETOV

(Reuters) – Russian authorities said on Sunday they had charged two men over the killing of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov and said one of them was a former senior policeman from the mainly Muslim region of Chechnya who had confessed to involvement in the crime.

The two were among five men, all ethnic Chechens, frogmarched into a Moscow courtroom on Sunday, forced by masked security officers gripping their bound arms to walk doubled over, a Reuters reporter at the court said.

The men stood in metal cages as television crews were ushered in to film them.

Nemtsov was shot dead on the night of Feb. 27 within sight of the Kremlin walls, in the most high-profile killing of an opposition figure in the 15 years that President Vladimir Putin has been in power.

Judge Natalia Mushnikova ordered that all five men should remain in custody.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, a Putin ally, said the former policeman, Zaur Dadayev, was a pious Muslim who had been angered by cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo.

Nemtsov, a liberal, had defended the cartoons after Islamist gunmen killed 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris in January. Russian investigators said last week they were looking into the possibility that Islamist militants had killed Nemtsov.

“All who know Zaur confirm that he is a deep believer and also that he, like all Muslims, was shocked by the activities of Charlie and comments in support of printing the cartoons,” Kadyrov wrote on his Instagram account.

Kadyrov described Dadayev as “a true patriot of Russia” who had received several medals for bravery but had subsequently resigned from his interior ministry regiment for reasons the Chechen leader said were unclear.

There have been cases in the past where employees of Russian law enforcement agencies have been prosecuted after moonlighting for organized crime groups.

CONFESSION

“Dadayev’s involvement in committing this crime is confirmed by, apart from his own confession, the totality of evidence gathered as part of this criminal case,” Mushnikova told Sunday’s court hearing.

The other man charged is Anzor Gubashev. The three other suspects are his brother Shagid Gubashev, Ramzan Bakhayev and Tamerlan Eskerkhanov. Previously, investigators said they only had two suspects in custody.

Separately, Russia’s Interfax news agency, quoting a Chechen law enforcement source, said a man killed in a standoff with police in the Chechen capital Grozny late on Saturday had also been wanted by police in connection with Nemtsov’s killing.

When police arrived at an apartment block, the man threw one grenade at officers and then blew himself up with a second, Interfax said.

Some associates of Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister who became a Putin critic, say the Kremlin stands to gain from his death. Russian officials deny involvement and Putin has condemned the killing.

The court hearings on Sunday were given extensive coverage on state-controlled media, and presented as proof the authorities were conducting a thorough investigation – not the cover-up some of Nemtsov’s friends say they anticipate.

But associates of Nemtsov say they will not be satisfied unless prosecutors track down whoever orchestrated the killing, rather than just the people who pulled the trigger.

There was no word from investigators on who the suspects were alleged to have been working for.

Several other high-profile killings in Russia, including the 2006 shooting of journalist Anna Politkovskaya, have been attributed to gunmen from Chechnya and other parts of the North Caucasus region, while those who ordered the crimes were never firmly identified.

Chechnya has seen violent separatist insurgencies over the past two decades. It is now firmly under the control of Kadyrov, a former rebel who changed sides and pledges loyalty to Putin.

(Additional reporting by Christian Lowe, editing by Gareth Jones)

Russian doctor who met Putin last week diagnosed with coronavirus – State TV

UNTV News   •   April 1, 2020

(L-R) Dr. Denis Protsenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin

A doctor who gave Russian President Vladimir Putin a tour of Moscow’s main coronavirus hospital last week said on Tuesday (March 31) he had himself been diagnosed with the virus.

Putin visited the Kommunarka hospital last Tuesday where he chatted with the doctor, Denis Protsenko. Neither man was wearing protective equipment during their conversation, TV footage from the visit showed.

Protsenko, writing on Facebook said: “Yes, I have tested positive for coronavirus, but I feel pretty good. I’ve isolated myself in my office. I think the immunity I’ve developed this month is doing its job.”

The Kremlin said that Putin was being regularly tested for coronavirus and that “everything is okay,” the RIA news agency reported.

It has previously said that Putin is being protected from viruses and other illnesses “around the clock.”

Putin donned a hazmat suit and a respirator during his visit to the hospital last week when dropping in on patients. But he did not have his protective gear on during a meeting with Protsenko, with whom he was photographed shaking hands.

The Kremlin reported a coronavirus case in Putin’s administration on Friday, but said the person in question had not come into contact with the president and that all measures were being taken to prevent the virus from spreading further.

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday granted the government powers to declare a national emergency over the coronavirus, and approved penalties for violations of lockdown rules including, in extreme cases, jail terms of up to seven years. (Reuters)

(Production: Peter Scott)

Trump urges U.S. to halt most social activity in virus fight, warns of recession

UNTV News   •   March 17, 2020

President Donald Trump urged Americans on Monday (March 16) to halt most social activities for 15 days and not congregate in groups larger than 10 people in a newly aggressive effort to reduce the spread of the coronavirus in the United States.

Announcing new guidelines from his coronavirus task force, the president said people should avoid discretionary travel and not go to bars, restaurants, food courts or gyms.

As stocks tumbled, Trump warned that a recession was possible, a development that could affect his chances of re-election in November. The Republican president said he was focused on addressing the health crisis and that the economy would get better once that was in line.

The task force implored young people to follow the new guidelines even though they were at lesser risk of suffering if they contract the virus. Older people, especially those with underlying health problems, are at the greatest risk if they develop the respiratory disease.

Reporters staggered their seating, sitting in every other seat in the White House briefing room, to follow social distancing measures.

Trump said the worst of the virus could be over by July, August or later. He called it an invisible enemy.

The president has taken criticism for playing down the seriousness of the virus in the early days of its U.S. spread. On Monday, when asked, he gave himself a good grade for his response.

“I’d rate it a 10. I think we’ve done a great job,” he said.

Trump said a nationwide curfew was not under consideration at this point.

Normally a cheerleader for the U.S. economy, he acknowledged the possibility of a recession while brushing off another dramatic decline on stock markets as investors worried about the virus.

“We’re not thinking in terms of recession, we’re thinking in terms of the virus. Once we stop, I think there’s a tremendous pent up demand, both in terms of the stock market and in terms of the economy,” Trump said. The president has long considered soaring stock markets to be a sign of his administration’s success.

Trump said the administration had talked regularly about domestic travel restrictions but hoped not to have to put such measures in place.

He said he thought it would still be possible for G7 leaders to meet at the Camp David retreat in Maryland in June. Trump upset European countries, which make up a large part of the G7, by instituting travel restrictions from European countries without consulting with them first. (Reuters)

(Production: Katharine Jackson)

Streets deserted in Milan during coronavirus lockdown

UNTV News   •   March 11, 2020

A handful of people were seen on the streets of Milan on Wednesday morning (March 12) following stringent measures imposed to contain the coronavirus.

Shops and restaurants closed, hundreds of flights were cancelled and streets emptied across Italy on Tuesday (March 10), the first day of an unprecedented, nationwide lockdown imposed to slow Europe’s worst outbreak of coronavirus.

Just hours after the dramatic new restrictions came into force, health authorities announced the death toll had jumped by 168 to 631, the largest rise in absolute numbers since the contagion came to light on Feb. 21.

The total number of confirmed cases rose at a much slower rate than recently seen, hitting 10,149 against a previous 9,172, but officials warned that the region at the epicentre, Lombardy, had provided incomplete data.

The government has told all Italians to stay at home and avoid non-essential travel until April 3, radically widening steps already taken in much of the wealthy north, which is the epicentre of the spreading contagion. (Reuters)

(Production: Marissa Davison)

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