Arrests in Moscow. Culprits or fall guys?

'Several suspects' have been identified in the Boris Nemtsov murder case Credit: Reuters

The Kremlin decided to put itself in charge of the investigation into the murder of Boris Nemstov, and DCI Putin has proved to be a formidable detective.

One suspect has already confessed, another has been charged, a third blew himself up with a hand-grenade rather than submit to arrest, and three more suspects are in custody.

More remarkable still, they are all Chechens, devout Muslims allegedly angered at Nemstov's support for the murdered cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo. Exactly as the Kremlin had predicted they would be the morning after the murder.

Is this all a little too convenient? Well it's not entirely good news for the Kremlin.

The chief suspect is Zaur Dadayev, a close associate of one of Putin's closest allies Ramzan Kadyrov the head of the Chechen Republic.

Dadayev is a former Deputy Commander of Chechnya's Interior Ministry troops and this brings the killers embarrassingly close to Putin's door. If the President really had nothing to do with the murder, and is genuine in his condemnation of it, why is he unable to control one of men who had been most loyal to his regime?

Kadyrov and his Chechen irregulars have been one of the mainstays of the 'volunteer' battalions fighting on Russia's behalf in Ukraine.

No-one has pushed harder to realise Putin's vision of authoritarian conservatism at home and expansion abroad. Is Kadyrov now being kept on such a long leash that he believes he can act with impunity even beneath the walls of the Kremlin itself?

And this is where the discrepancies begin to mount up. Even if the arrested men really were the killers, how does one explain the absence of police at the scene of the killing (normally crawling with security agents) and the failure of multiple CCTV cameras to capture what happened?

Does it seem likely that men seeking revenge on Nemstov would have left his girlfriend - the only eye-witness - unharmed?

And how did the Kremlin conclude, within hours, that there were Chechens out there sufficiently angry at Nemstov's (distant) connection with the Charlie Hebdo affair to want to kill him?

The Kremlin Credit: PA Wire

When the Kremlin is suspected of being behind a major crime, it is frequently Chechens who end up in court: the bombing of a Moscow apartment block in 1999, for example, and the killing of journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006.

The one murder they've not yet been accused of is the death in London of Alexander Litvinenko, and that may be because no one has any real doubt who killed him - former KGB officer Andrei Lugovoi.

Lugovoi, of course, is not in jail, in fact just today President Putin chose to award him one of Russia's highest decorations for 'Service to the Motherland'.

And if that wasn't chutzpah enough, today the trailer for a new documentary was released in which Vladimir Putin boasts about the deceit and subterfuge that went into the seizure of Crimea a year ago.

Putin now rather proudly admits that virtually everything he told the world at the time was a lie. Which tells you almost everything you need to know about what Russia has become.

Read more: Two suspects charged with Boris Nemtsov murder