Putin on the Offensive

by / 0 Comments / 31 View / March 10, 2015

According to the Guardian, explanations for Boris Nemtsov’s murder range from a “provocation” meant to discredit the Kremlin to an act of terror by Islamist extremists to Ukrainian fascists to assassination by Western spies to a conflict in his love life.

But 30,000 Moscow citizens disagree with all of the above.

Outraged over the alleged government assassination of the 55-year-old anti-corruption fighter, thousands upon thousands of Russians took to the streets on Sunday to march in what was supposed to be a rally led by Nemtsov but ended up being a memorial protest in his honor against Putin and the corrupt government.

The circumstances surrounding his death are suspicious for sure. Nemtsov was shot multiple times while crossing a bridge near the Kremlin with his girlfriend. He died instantly from his wounds.

Nemtsov’s girlfriend, 23-year-old Ukrainian model Anna Duritskaya, was unharmed, and says that she did not see the gunman or hear anyone following them. Duritskaya has now come forward in a news video alleging that she is being kept under close guard during the investigation. CNN quoted Duritskaya’s mother, saying that “she was crying…she was in such shock” and that authorities have threatened to take away her attorney, implying that she could be implicated in the murder.

Further complicating the story, Nemtsov, a politician who was extremely vocal in his criticism of Putin and the government as a whole, was warned by his mother and the previous Deputy Prime Minister that “cursing Putin,” as Mrs. Nemstov put it, was bound to end badly for him. Nemtsov is being buried in a cemetery somewhat conspicuously on the opposite side of Moscow from where high-profile politicians are usually laid to rest.

This wouldn’t be the first time the Russian government has taken matters into their own hands in dealing with vocal opponents. Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a businessman, publicly accused Putin of being corrupt, and was arrested and sent to a labor camp. Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist, was shot and killed in the stairwell of her apartment complex. Soon after, critic Alexander Litvinenko was poisoned with polonium-210 by two men now identified by the high court in London as former KGB agents. Alexey Navalny, another critic, was found guilty of fraud last year and sentenced to prison.

Stanislav Markelov. Anastasia Barburova. Natalia Estemirova. Sergei Magnitsky. The list of victims whose deaths go unexplained or ignored goes on and on.

Many Russian citizens are certain that the Kremlin was in some way involved with Nemtsov’s death, either directly or indirectly, though most are aware of how difficult such a claim would be to prove. Others, like activist Garry Kasparov, attributes the death to the “toxic atmosphere of hatred” promoted by government-run media.

Putin has taken the investigation under his personal supervision, a move that has done little to reassure the public of governmental impartiality. The Russian media isn’t helping matters, either; it seems to be simultaneously attempting to downplay the murder and present Nemtsov as an insignificant public figure, no more or less important than any other man.

But the Russians who marched on Sunday, holding signs with portraits of the politician or bearing the adopted slogan “Je suis Nemtsov,” are refusing to let the Kremlin get away with murder one more time.

Image Source: Alexei Druzhinin/AP