The story around the assassination of a prominent Russian opposition leader is getting murkier as more details are being released.
Some of the CCTV cameras installed in the area where Boris Nemtsov was fatally shot by unknown assailants on the night of Feb. 27 were switched off for repairs, according to Kommersant – an influential Russian newspaper.
The report added to rumors and conspiracy theories that suggest Russian President Vladimir Putin may have orchestrated the murder.
Nemtsov was a renowned Putin critic – it's believed he was working on a report containing evidence of secret Russian military involvement. He was gunned down just hours after he denounced the president’s "mad, aggressive" policies in a radio interview.
Above all, the shooting took place on the Great Moskvoretsky Bridge, just 100 meters (330 feet) from the Kremlin in central Moscow – that is, right under Putin’s nose.
Therefore, new claims that the security cameras that would have filmed the shooting were turned off for repairs at the time prompts even more suspicions of foul play.
Yelena Novikova, a spokeswoman for Moscow's information technology department, which oversees surveillance cameras in the city, added another angle to the story when she denied Kommersant’s report, saying all cameras "belonging to the city" were fully functional on Feb. 27.
While Novikova did not confirm the existence of any video of the killing, TVC – a station controlled by the Moscow municipal authority – released grainy footage that purports to show Nemtsov and his companion, identified as Anna Duritskaya, shortly before the killing.
However, the actual moment of the shooting is not visible in the video since Nemtsov and his assailant are hidden from the camera by a snow-clearing truck.
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Following the conflicting reports about CCTV cameras, the person currently believed to be the sole witness to Nemtsov’s murder flew to the Ukrainian capital, Kiev, after saying she didn’t see the gunman who pulled the trigger.
Anna Duritskaya broke her silence on the shooting in an emotional interview with the independent channel TV Rain, tearfully recounting her last dinner with the slain politician in Red Square restaurant and their walk on the Great Moskvoretsky Bridge.
“I don’t want to answer questions about what happened on the bridge. I don’t want to talk about this,” she said. “I am in a very difficult psychological condition and I cannot talk about this anymore now. I feel bad ... I saw no one. I don’t know where he came from, he was behind my back,” Duritskaya said, adding she was forcibly being held under police guard in a friend’s apartment in Moscow.
The 23-year-old Ukrainian model, who was reportedly Nemtsov’s companion for three years, also stated that she would probably be unable to attend Nemtsov's funeral on March 3.
While many are holding Kremlin responsible for Nemtsov’s assassination, Putin condemned the shooting, saying “it may have been a contract killing.”
So far, no suspects have been taken into custody.