IN LATE 2014, Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader, wondered aloud about the consequences of allowing the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, to amass his own armed forces. “The contract between Kadyrov and Putin—money in exchange for loyalty—is ending. Where will Mr Kadyrov’s 20,000 men go?” he wrote. “When will they come to Moscow?” Just a few months later, Nemtsov was gunned down while walking with his girlfriend across a bridge in the shadow of the Kremlin. The killing rattled the Russian political world and horrified the liberal opposition that looked up to Nemtsov, a charismatic former deputy prime minister who had once seemed destined for the presidency.

On June 29th, after three days of jury deliberations, a Russian court convicted five Chechen men in connection with the assassination. Yet for Nemtsov’s supporters, the verdict brought little solace. Those convicted may have carried out the killing, but the Russian state has proved…Continue reading

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