The head of the Chechen republic Ramzan Kadyrov said on Thursday that prison sentences handed down to opposition politician Boris Nemtsov’s killers were “strange” and based on unsubstantiated evidence, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.
A Moscow court sentenced Zaur Dadayev to 20 years in prison on Thursday, while accomplices to the murder received between 11 and 19 years in prison.
The Chechen men were offered 15 million rubles ($250,000) for the contract killing of the Russian opposition leader, an investigation found.
In an address to Interior Ministry commanders, Kadyrov also said an “informational and ideological” war was being waged against the republic.
“I am convinced that a purposeful, well-funded information and ideological war is being waged against Chechnya and its people,” Kadyrov said.
Kadyrov said the attack was rooted in the West’s intent to destroy Chechen identity.
“They don’t like it when we promote a healthy lifestyle, when we encourage young people to build their lives based on faith and national interests. They want our people to fall as low as possible and never rise,” Kadyrov said.
Nemtsov, an outspoken reformer, was among Russia’s most prominent opposition politicians. He served as a Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin and was a staunch critic of President Vladimir Putin.
He was shot dead as he walked home across Moscow’s Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge in February 2015.