Shocked by the murder of Boris Nemtsov

The world is shocked by the murder of Boris Nemtsov that occurred just before midnight on the 27th of February. He was shot just a stone’s throw away from the Kremlin, which is ‘’beyond imagination’’, fellow opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov said. ‘’There can be only one version: he was shot for telling the truth.’’


There is much controversy over who might have killed Nemtsov. Surveillance cameras show a driving white car whence the victim is shot. However, the white car remains unfound, sparking assumptions that the murder was ordered as it was carried out effectively.

Several conspiracy theories are popping up in the media. The National Investigative Committee who answer to the Russian President have offered a $50,000 reward for information on Nemtsov’s death. The first possibility, the Investigative Committee said, was that the murder was aimed at destabilizing the political situation in the country and Nemtsov was a "sacrificial victim for those who do not shun any method for achieving their political goals." This suggestion is further strengthened by Russian President Vladimir Putin, who said the murder could have been a provocation against the state. Authorities have suggested the opposition itself may have been behind his shooting in an attempt to create a martyr and unite the fractured movement.

Another possibility includes whether there was ‘’personal enmity’’ towards Nemtsov’s domestic life, as State-controlled and Kremlin-friendly television channels gave extensive attention to his companion, Ukrainian model Anna Duritskaya. Also, Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-backed leader of Chechnya, stressed "There's no doubt that Nemtsov's killing was organized by Western special services, trying by any means to create internal conflict in Russia." More possibilities include that Nemtsov was killed by radical Islamists, as he was a Jew. Another possibility includes the involvement of the opposition, who would blacken Putin’s name with this act. 

These versions, however, are not considered by the opposition, who point the finger to the Kremlin, as Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of Putin. Nemtsov has been quoted, saying he was afraid to be a target to the president concerning his opposition to the conflict in Ukraine. Nemtsov, apparently, had been writing a report revealing persuasive evidence on the involvement of Russian troops in Ukraine. The Russian government is strongly denying accusations as they have always said no Russian troops or weaponry were involved in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko added that someone must have been very afraid for the information Nemtsov possessed. Also, the murder could be seen as a way to spread fear and to silence  opposition members or sympathizers. Placing the murder in the opposition’s shoes would give the Kremlin a reason to, start a further crackdown on it. Another version put forward by the opposition is that the murder was committed by over-zealous Kremlin followers with the (silent or vocal) consent of the authorities. Many in the opposition doubt those responsible will ever be found or punished.

The opposition says Putin's rule has become an autocracy that flaunts international norms after Russia seized Ukraine's Crimea peninsula last year, fanned nationalism over the separatist war in eastern Ukraine and clamped down on dissent, creating a climate of hate and polarization

Boris Nemtsov

Nemtsov worked as a research scientist in the last years of the Soviet Union, after which he became the governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region in central Russia. He served as deputy Prime Minister under president Boris Yeltsin in the late 1990’s, but left the Russian Parliament in 2003. He founded and led several political opposition parties, the latest being the Republican Party of Russia, and the People’s Freedom Party. Nemtsov wrote several critical reports about Putin’s regime, covering corruption, Putin’s possessions, and massive overspending on the Winter Olympics in Sochi. In addition, he led, and was one of the key speakers at mass opposition rallies against Putin’s regime in 2012. In the West, he was one of the most famous Putin critics.

Demonstration march

Yesterday, a demonstration march in honor of Boris Nemtsov took place through the centre of Moscow and past the place he was murdered. The march for an ‘’end to the Russian regime’s irresponsible, aggressive policy’’ and especially the involvement of Russia in Ukraine involved tens of thousands of people. During the demonstration, Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko was detained as he was accused of a failure to obey a police officer. Also, his involvement in the riots in Odesa in 2013 will be investigated. He claims to be abused and intimidated during his detention. His hearing will be on Monday 2nd of March.

Reactions from the West.

Western countries have condemned the murder of Boris Nemtsov, expressing appreciation for his work. U.S. President Barack Obama called for a transparent investigation to ensure those responsible were brought to justice for the ‘’vicious killing’’. "Nemtsov was a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled," he said. Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko stressed: ‘’he would reveal persuasive evidence of the involvement of Russian armed forces in Ukraine. Someone was very afraid of this ... They killed him,". US Secretary of State John Kerry said Nemtsov "committed his life to a more democratic, prosperous, open Russia," and that he "sought to reform and open Russia, and to empower the Russian people to have a greater say in the life of their country." UK Prime Minister David Cameron revealed he was ‘’shocked and sickened’’ by the news. German Chancellor Angela Merkel ‘’calls on President Putin to ensure that the murder is cleared up and the perpetrators brought to justice.’’ EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini reacted with indignation and deep sadness at the murder, saying The EU expects the Russian authorities to conduct a full, rapid and transparent investigation into this assassination, bringing the culprits swiftly to justice."

By Elske Idzenga

Sources: Reuters; The Moskowtimes; Radio Free Europe; the Guardian

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