Video reports conflict in probe of Putin critic’s slaying

World Today

Woman hold papers reading “Justice for Nemtsov”, at centre, and, at right, “Boris, you are right” as people gather at Innocent Plaza in central Paris, France, Sunday, March 1, 2015, in memory of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, and critic of President Vladimir Putin, who was gunned down on Friday, Feb. 27, near the Kremlin in Moscow. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)

MOSCOW — Conflicting reports emerged Monday about the availability of possible surveillance footage showing the slaying of Boris Nemtsov, a fierce Kremlin critic gunned down in Moscow, as top Russian officials again promised that his killing would be “fully investigated.”

No suspects have been arrested since Nemtsov was shot dead Friday night. According to Russian investigators, he was walking home on a Moscow bridge near the Kremlin with a woman when he was shot four times by an assailant, who then escaped in a light-colored car.

The area is one of the most secure, heavily photographed parts of the Russian capital but it was not clear what CCTV footage may have captured his slaying. The attack came just hours after a radio interview in which Nemtsov denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “mad, aggressive policy” in Ukraine.

The business newspaper Kommersant on Monday quoted anonymous sources in the Interior Ministry as saying there was no CCTV footage of the killing because the cameras in question were not working at the time.

However, Yelena Novikova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s information technology department, which oversees the city’s surveillance cameras, said Monday that all cameras “belonging to the city” were operating correctly on the night of Nemtsov’s death. She said federal authorities also had surveillance cameras near the Kremlin that are not under her organization’s control.

Still, Novikova would not confirm the existence of any video of the killing, saying the police investigation was still underway.

Meanwhile, TV Center, a station controlled by the Moscow city government, broadcast a poor-resolution video from one of its web cameras that it said showed Nemtsov and his date shortly before he was killed.

The station, which superimposed its own time code on the footage, circled figures it said were Nemtsov and the woman walking across the bridge on a rainy night. A vehicle that TVC identified as a snowplow moved slowly behind the couple, obscuring the view of the shooting. TV Center then circled what it said was the suspected killer jumping into a passing car.

The authenticity of the TVC video could not be independently confirmed.

Still, the Ukrainian woman that Nemtsov was with when he was shot — 23-year-old Anna Duritskaya — mentioned in an interview Monday that, after the shooting, she had asked a nearby snowplow driver for an emergency number for the police.

Investigators say they are looking into several possible motives for the opposition leader’s slaying and have offered 3 million roubles (nearly $50,000) for information about it, but so far there have been few leads. Many of Nemtsov’s supporters believe the government is responsible.

Duritskaya has been under police guard for questioning since early Saturday, but in an interview Monday with the independent Russian TV channel Dozhd she said she had not seen Nemtsov’s attacker.

“I didn’t see anything,” she told Dozhd. “I turned around and all I saw was a light-colored car. I saw neither the brand nor the license plate of the car when it was driving away.”

Duritskaya told Dozhd that the snowplow driver drove away after he gave her the police number.

Duritskaya, who said she had known Nemtsov for three years, said she had been questioned exhaustively by police and wants to leave the country but Russian investigators will not her. She is now staying at a friend’s apartment in Moscow.

Duritskaya’s mother Inna, who spoke to The Associated Press in Kiev, the Ukrainian capital, said Monday she had been in touch with her daughter. She said Anna was very upset and she worried that Russian authorities were “putting psychological pressure on her.”

“I am worried that they want to use her, as a citizen of Ukraine, use her as though this situation is somehow something to do with Ukraine,” she said. “She has absolutely nothing to do with this killing. She was not politically active. She had nothing to do with Boris’ political activities.”

She has absolutely nothing to do with this killing. She was not politically active. She had nothing to do with Boris’ political activities; she had nothing to do with it.”

In Geneva on Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov called the Nemtsov killing a “heinous crime which will be fully investigated.” He told the U.N. Human Rights Council that Putin had “immediately handed down all instructions and is ensuring special control over this investigation.”

At the same time he rebuffed outside interference in the probe, saying any “attempt to use the heinous killing of Boris Nemtsov for political purposes is despicable.”

Tens of thousands of supporters turned out Sunday to march through central Moscow in a silent tribute to Nemtsov, while other supporters mourned him in St. Petersburg and other European cities.

Prominent Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has asked to be released early from prison so he could attend Nemtsov’s funeral, which is being held Tuesday at a human rights center in Moscow. Navalny was sentenced on Feb. 20 to 15 days in custody for handing out leaflets for an upcoming protest that was also organized by Nemtsov.

France’s foreign minister called Nemtsov’s killing an “assassination that was revolting,” and called Monday for a serious investigation into it. Laurent Fabius told BFM television the slaying “raises a series of questions.”

“The fact is that it is not good to be an opposition figure in Russia,” Fabius said, noting previous killings of other Russian opposition figures.

Story compiled with information from AP reports.