Thursday, March 05, 2015

Before Nemtsov’s assassination, a year of demonization

By Michael Birnbaum
March 4 at 6:50 PM WashPost

MOSCOW — Days after Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was killed at the Kremlin’s doorstep, his grieving allies say that a year of dark accusations of treason and fascism laid the groundwork for his death.

No suspect has been identified in the highest-profile assassination to occur during President Vladimir Putin’s 15 years in power, and authorities say they are searching wide for motives. But Nemtsov’s friends say there is a violent undertone to the patriotic fervor that has overtaken Russia since it annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula a year ago. Now anyone who criticizes the Kremlin risks being painted as an enemy of the state. Nemtsov’s killing may be only the beginning, they say.

Their anxiety has been heightened because the killing took place in one of Russia’s more highly secure areas. To Putin critics, who generally think Nemt­sov’s death was politically motivated, the toxic rhetoric of the past year has unleashed furies beyond the Kremlin’s control or an even scarier conspiracy is afoot.

Putin denies any connection to the killing, and his spokesman said it was a “provocation” intended to undermine the Kremlin.

(More here.)

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