Boris Nemstov, former deputy minister to President Boris Yeltsin and political rival of current Russian President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead in the shadow of the Kremlin on Friday evening.
Nemstov, 55, a former member of Russian Parliament was co-chair of the Republican Party of Russia, was ambushed by men who pulled alongside him and shot him.
“Unfortunately I can see the corpse of Boris Nemtsov in front of me now,” co-founder of Nemtsov’s political party Ilya Yashin told Russia’s lenta.ru news website. “I see the body and lots of police around it.”
The BBC reports:
An unidentified attacker in a car shot Mr Nemtsov four times in the back as he crossed a bridge in view of the Kremlin, police say.
He died hours after appealing for support for a march on Sunday in Moscow against the war in Ukraine.
Putin has condemned the murder, and according to his spokesman Dmitry Peskov, he has assumed “personal control” of the investigation into the murder.
Then, in a facepalm moment, the Obama administration also condemned the murder and called on Russia to conduct a “prompt, impartial and transparent investigation.” As if…
Nemstov was an outspoken critic of Putin and had been threatened on several occasions. He told Sobesednik just two weeks ago that he “couldn’t dislike him (Putin) more,” and “I’m afraid Putin will kill me.”
Additionally, he told Sobesednik that his mother was fearful of Putin doing something to him. “She is truly scared that he could kill me soon for all of my statements, both in real life and on social networks. This is not a joke; she is a smart person.”
According to USA Today:
Nemtsov had been working on a report proving Russia’s involvement in the Ukrainian conflict. He had received anonymous threats in the past several weeks, said Ilya Yashin, one of the leaders of the Parnas Party.
Moscow and Kiev have been locked in a dangerous political and territorial battle since the Ukrainian opposition last year toppled president Viktor Yanukovych, who was pro-Russian. Pro-Moscow rebels have been battling Ukrainian troops for control of eastern Ukraine. Putin has denied arming the rebels or fighting with them, despite reports of Russian troops and armaments across the border.
Speaking on radio just a few hours before his death, Nemtsov accused Putin of plunging Russia into crisis by his “mad, aggressive and deadly policy of war against Ukraine,” the Associated Press reported.
Nemtsov believed that Putin wanted revenge, fearing a pro-Europe Ukraine posed a threat to his power.
“He lies in revenge for Ukraine’s revolution, when Ukrainians took to the streets and dethroned the corrupt thief President Yanukovych. He is afraid it could be repeated in Russia. And, besides, he thinks if Ukraine is successful on the European path it is a threat to his own power,” he told the U.S.-government-backed Voice of America during a September interview.
While many from the Yeltsin days went into business and out of the political realm, Nemstov, and atomic physicist, remained in the political spotlight until the time of his death.
In an interview in 2011, Nemstov said, “I love Russia and want the best for her, so for me criticizing Putin is a very patriotic activity because these people are leading Russia to ruin. Everybody who supports them in fact supports a regime that is destroying the country, and so they are the ones who hate Russia. And those who criticize this regime, those who fight against it, they are the patriots.”
Former finance minister Alexei Kudrin, who is critical of Putin, but remains his ally said, “Nemtsov’s murder is a terrible tragedy for Russia.”
TPNN provided some of the first images of the crime scene from Yury Barmin.
Some are expressing concern that Putin is behind the hit.
“They have started to kill ‘enemies of the people,’ ” former opposition member of Parliament Gennady Gudkov posted on Twitter. “Mr. Nemtsov is dead. Who is next?”
While political murders have been known throughout Russia’s history, this is the first high profile politically motivated murder since the breakup of the Soviet Union 24 years ago.
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