CNN reports that Russian authorities arrested two men in connection with the murder of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian liberal politician and opposition leader who was one of President Vladimir Putin's biggest critics. Nemtsov was assassinated last Friday in Moscow as he crossed a bridge just hundreds of feet away from the Kremlin and the iconic St. Basil's Cathedral. The murder occurred less than 48 hours before Nemtsov was scheduled to speak at an anti-Putin rally denouncing the president's involvement in eastern Ukraine.
According to The New York Times, officials with Russia's Federal Security Service (FSB) identified the two suspects in custody as Anzor Kubashev and Zaur Dadayev. The two men are reportedly from the North Caucasus region of Russia. No other details about the two men were revealed through the FSB.
However, the Interfax News Agency is reporting the two men in custody are accused of carrying out the murder. Cell phone conversations reportedly led authorities to the two suspects. The organizers of the assassination have yet to be found, according to the Interfax report.
Earlier this week, the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation said it was making progress into the probe of Nemtsov's assassination. " A CCTV video record has been viewed already. Material evidence have been seized and studied," Vladimir Markin, head of the committee's media relations, said in a statement on Wednesday. "A set of forensic inquiries have been fixed, including ballistic, traceological, medical and others."
Markin added that the committee, along with Russia's security agency, is "making every effort to solve the murder of Boris Nemtsov," including checking each possible theory. Those theories range from Islamic extremists to protesters wanting to stir political strife in Russia. However, the list of theories does not include the one Nemtsov's friends and colleagues believe: that Nemtsov, a vocal critic of Putin and leader of Russia's newfound Solidarity movement, was targeted by the Russian government.
The only witness to Nemtsov's muder was his girlfriend, Ukrainian model Anna Duritskaya. According to Markin, Duritskaya has decided to stay in Moscow for the investigation and is cooperating with authorities. "[Duritskaya] is not just a key witness of the murder, but she actually saw what happened...it is unnecessary to explain how important her testimony is for the investigation," Markin said on Wednesday.
A former deputy prime minister who was once seen as a potential presidential candidate, Nemtsov was a powerful yet somewhat marginalized political figure in present-day Russia. A champion of democracy, the 55-year-old liberal was a supporter of Ukrainian independence and harshly criticized Putin over the last year for his handling of the Ukraine conflict. According to his colleagues, Nemtsov was working on research at the time of his death that alleged Putin was directly responsible for escalating the ongoing bloody conflict between eastern Ukrainians and pro-Russian separatists. Putin, of course, has denied any direct involvement, including funding and arming the separatists.
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