The world is mourning the loss of Russian opposition leader and critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Boris Nemtsov. He was murdered in cold blood early Saturday morning just feet from the Kremlin in Moscow.
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko claims Nemtsov died because he was going to reveal information about Russia’s involvement in east Ukraine. “He said he would reveal persuasive evidence of the involvement of Russian armed forces in Ukraine,” said Poroshenko. “Someone was very afraid of this… They killed him.”
On Saturday Russians converged on the bridge at Moskva River where Nemtsov died. A gunman killed the former deputy prime minister with four shots to the back. On February 10, Nemtsov told Sobesednik.ru he was afraid Putin planned to kill him:
– Interesting. And you’re after just such conversations with my mother began to fear that Putin may you soon kill directly or indirectly?
– You know, yes … a bit. Not as much as my mother, but still … Still, I’m not so much afraid of him. If I feared very much, it is unlikely that would be headed by an opposition party, is unlikely to be involved in what I do. Pass, by the way, me and mommy hello Dmitry Bykov.
– Thank you, give. I hope all the same common sense will prevail and Putin will not kill you.
– God bless. And I hope.
Nemtsov was due to lead an opposition rally on Sunday. Yet, the repercussions from the Putin regime continue to frighten Russians from taking a stand. Nemtsov is now dead, Mikhail Khodorkovsky is in exhile, and Alexander Navalny is in jail.
“People are afraid to support our movement,” exclaimed Mark Galperin, one of many opposition activists. “Opposition activists receive threats every day and Boris was no exception. But they won’t stop us.”
The Associated Press listed the most well-known cases of deaths of opposition figures since Putin gained power in 2000. A gunman murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006. She was an outspoken critic of Russia’s violence in Chechnya. Former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned in November 2010 in London and passed away just three weeks later. Litvinenko blamed Putin for Politkovskaya. He also “signed a statement blaming Putin for his poisoning.” The United Kingdom is currently conducting an inquiry into Litinvenko’s death.
Nemtsov rose through the ranks in Russia in the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin. He chose Nemtsov as his deputy prime minister and even considered him as a successor. But Yeltsin chose to support Putin instead. Nemtsov even wrote an op-ed in The New York Times in 2000 that claimed Putin was great for Russia.
“Some critics have questioned Mr. Putin’s commitment to democracy,” wrote Nemtsov. “True, he is no liberal democrat, domestically or internationally. Under his leadership Russia will not become France. The government will, however, reflect the Russian people’s desire for a strong state, a functioning economy, and an end to tolerance for robber barons — in short, a ‘ruble stops here’ attitude. Russia could do considerably worse than have a leader with an unwavering commitment to the national interest.”
He changed his mind and amped up his opposition to Putin when Russia started a war in east Ukraine. Nemtsov provided an interview just two hours before he died:
In Nemtsov’s last interview, just two hours before his murder, he suggested asking Putin a simple question: “Why are Russian soldiers dying and you, as Commander-in-Chief, Mr. Putin, lie and claim they’re not fighting? We see the graves of these soldiers … in Kostroma, in Pskov, in Nizhny Novgorod.”
Putin denounced the murder and said he will “personally oversee the investigation.” Russia’s Investigative Committee claimed “the crime was meticulously planned, as well as the place chosen for the murder.” However, they also reported Nemtsov’s allies, radical Islamists, or even the Ukrainian government could be at fault.
Nemtsov’s death changed the plans for the opposition rally on Sunday. Instead it will be a march to mourn and remember the opposition leader. Moscow “gave quick approval” for the change. The march will walk over the bridge where Nemtsov died.