Boris Nemtsov, a prominent opposition politician, former Russian deputy prime minister, and one of Vladimir Putin’s top critics, has been shot and killed in Moscow. The murder took place in downtown Moscow, minutes from the Kremlin, on a bridge south of the Red Square.
Ilya Yashin, another opposition politician, was the first to confirm Nemtsov’s death on Twitter.
Just hours before his death, Nemtsov appeared on the Ekho Mosvky radio station to promote a Sunday march that he was supposed to lead with other opposition members to protest the Kremlin’s handling of Russia’s economic crisis and the conflict in Ukraine.
As the RuNet learned about the tragic event, many were shocked and saddened. Fellow politicians, journalists, and commentators expressed their condolences and shared recollections of Nemtsov.
Vladimir Putin has reportedly said Nemtsov’s death “bears all the marks of a contract killing” and was likely intended to stir unrest or damage the Kremlin’s reputation. According to his press secretary, Putin has personally ordered the heads of the Investigative Committee, the Federal Security Service, and the Ministry of Internal Affairs to oversee the investigation into the murder. Other political forces, including members of the Russian Communist party and LDPR, have also called the killing “a provocation” aimed at destabilizing the political situation and hardening “anti-Russian sentiment.”
A little over two weeks ago, in an interview with Sobesednik.ru, Nemtsov said his mother feared for his life, worrying that Putin might have him killed. (Nemtsov said he wasn’t as panicked as his mother.) According to colleague Ilya Yashin, Nemtsov was working on a report about the involvement of the Russian military in the conflict in Ukraine. Nemtsov’s lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said the politician recently received several death threats over social media.
After the police removed the body from the scene, Muscovites started bringing flowers to the bridge.
The organizers of the March 1 opposition rally have already said they’re canceling the rally and holding a memorial in downtown Moscow, instead. There are already plans to appeal to city officials for a permit, though the mayor’s office has been less than accommodating in the past.
Read more: globalvoicesonline.org – Written by Tetyana Lokot