Monday, March 02, 2015

Why we will never know who killed Boris Nemtsov

Boris Nemtsov at an anti-Putin rally in Moscow in 2012. Photograph: Karpov Sergei/ITAR-TASS Photo

Critics of Vladimir Putin have an uncanny habit of ending up dead. Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov is the latest to be gunned down in mysterious circumstances – and the Kremlin is already blurring the details

Luke Harding, The Guardian
Monday 2 March 2015 14.40 EST Last modified on Monday 2 March 2015 19.07 EST

In the 72 hours since Boris Nemtsov was murdered, the Kremlin has floated numerous explanations for his death. Vladimir Putin has called his killing a “provocation”. It’s a strange word. What Putin means is that whoever murdered Nemtsov did so to discredit the state. Since the state is the primary victim here, the state can’t be responsible, this logic runs.

Others have blamed Islamist extremists. Or Ukrainian fascists. Putin’s ally Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya’s thuggish president, has accused “western spy agencies”, an old favourite. The muck-raking website Lifenews.ru, which has close links to the FSB, Putin’s former spy agency, has pointed the finger at Nemtsov’s colourful love life. At the time of his murder, he was walking past the Kremlin with a Ukrainian model, it noted.

The only explanation not being given in Moscow for Nemtsov’s killing late on Friday evening is the blindingly obvious one: that he was murdered for his opposition activities. Specifically, for his very public criticism of Putin’s secret war in Ukraine in which at least 6,000 people have been killed over the past year, and which – according to his friends – he had been about to expose.

Nemtsov had been one of few Russian liberals brave enough to denounce Putin’s extensive undercover military support for the separatist rebels in Ukraine. He described the way Putin had annexed Crimea, using masked special forces, as “illegal”, though he recognised a majority of Crimeans wanted to join Russia. In his final interview, on Friday, he denounced Russia’s president as a “pathological liar”.

(More here.)

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