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Old 28th February 2015, 15:41
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Nemtsov Assassinated

Death on the Kremlin’s Doorstep
The killing of Boris Nemtsov heralds a new era of darkness for Russia’s already battered opposition.
2/28/2015 Christian Caryl FP

It was always hard to ignore Boris Nemtsov. You couldn’t help but notice when he came into a room. The physicist-turned-politician was smart, pugnacious, brash.

And so it was when I last saw him, in November 2010. Almost inevitably our conversation turned to the topic of the violence that permeates Russian political culture. We talked briefly about the fate of Sergei Magnitsky, the lawyer and anti-corruption activist who met an ignominious death in prison in 2009. We discussed Anna Politkovskaya, the crusading journalist who was shot to death in 2006 in the entryway of her home. Nemtsov noted that dozens of other reporters had died on the job in the years preceding — and lamented that the killers rarely faced any accounting for their crimes. “The murderers understand that killing journalists is not a problem,” he told me.

“So who protects you?” I asked him. It seemed like a reasonable question. After all, he was one of the most outspoken opposition figures in an era when Russia’s democratic institutions, never especially strong at the best of times, had withered dramatically. There was already plenty of bad blood between Nemtsov and then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who in 2009 claimed that Nemtsov and other politicians of his generation had stolen “billions” during their heyday in the 1990s. (Putin also made a point of mentioning that some of their confederates were in prison.) Threats were a regular part of Nemtsov’s life.

My question made him shrug. “God, I don’t know,” he said with a laugh. “I don’t have bodyguards.”

Just a few hours ago, early in the morning of Feb. 28, Moscow time, unknown assailants gunned Nemtsov down on a sidewalk in front of the Kremlin. The killing, as veteran Russia-watcher Steve Levine notes here, had all the hallmarks of a contract hit. Speculation about the identity of his killers is already rife — and ultimately academic, since they will never be caught. In Russia they almost never are.

On Feb. 10, Nemtsov gave an interview in which he expressed the fear that Putin wanted to kill him. It wasn’t an entirely crazy thought. Aside from the offense of expressing openly oppositionist views, Nemtsov was one of the few major Russian political figures who has dared to criticize Putin’s annexation of Crimea and Moscow’s support for the separatists in eastern Ukraine. (And, indeed, some are already speculating that those very separatists might have been behind Nemtsov’s death — although it’s hard to imagine that they would have dared such an act without explicit permission from the Kremlin.)

Nemtsov also had the extraordinary temerity to attack Putin for his lavish overspending on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi (which happens to be Nemtsov’s birthplace). None of this was calculated to boost his popularity among ordinary Russians, who tend to find Putin’s tough-guy theatrics a thrill. Nemtsov’s periodic reports highlighting corruption and human rights violations certainly didn’t endear him to the Kremlin, either. And just hours before his death he was touting a planned opposition demonstration, scheduled for the coming Sunday, that looks as though it will now turn into a huge memorial service.

It’s no stretch to say that Nemtsov’s career exemplified both the promise and the weaknesses of Russia’s liberal opposition movement. In the early 1990s, the young Nemtsov – then a governor of the region around Nizhny Novgorod — made a name for himself as an ardent supporter of President Boris Yeltsin’s reform course. In 1997, a year after Yeltsin’s re-election to a second term as president, Nemtsov joined his cabinet, part of a “dream team” of young reformers who were celebrated by western politicians and investors for their liberal economic policies and their embrace of democratic values. Nemtsov’s energy and charisma made him a particular hit with voters, and there was a time when he was even touted as the great hope of the reformist camp, perhaps even as a possible successor to the increasingly erratic Yeltsin.

Yet these were also the very years when the dream of a new Russia based on free markets and liberal values foundered fatally. Most Russians remember the 1990s as a decade of shocking industrial decline, salaries left unpaid for months or years, and savings lost to hyperinflation. Organized crime ran amok, and life expectancy plummeted. The newly minted “oligarchs,” the small circle of well-connected businessmen who benefited disproportionately from the privatization of the nation’s prime assets, paraded their wealth and influence.

The liberal politicians favored by Yeltsin either abetted these developments or proved powerless to stop them. Their dream ended with a bang on Aug. 17, 1998, when the government, headed by baby-faced Prime Minister Sergei Kirienko, devalued the ruble and defaulted on its debts. Nemtsov was Kirienko’s deputy prime minister, and it was a moment he would never quite live down. Amid the chaos, the general yearning for a “strong leader” became almost palpable. The Russian financial crisis marked the real start of Putin’s path to the presidency.

The liberals’ subsequent exile from power wasn’t made much easier by their own fractiousness and all-too-frequent contempt for political realities. Nemtsov himself played a starring role in one of the most notorious examples of opposition obliviousness. A 2003 campaign ad for his political party depicted Nemtsov and his two colleagues, Anatoly Chubais and Irina Khakamada, flying over Russia in a cushy private plane as they discussed their plans for the country’s future. Few images could have better summed up the popular image of the liberal opposition as arrogantly detached from the gritty realities of everyday life.

In a truly democratic society, of course, politicians have the chance to learn from their mistakes, giving them the hope of returning, revived, to the give-and-take of honest competition. Russia’s Putin-era opposition has never had this luxury. Its adherents have been thrown into jail, hounded into silence, driven into exile. Yet even these crimes pale against the killing of Nemtsov, whose death presages a grim new era of darkness in the country’s political life.

During our last meeting, Nemtsov was characteristically unapologetic about his beliefs. He expressed deep skepticism about the “reset,” the Obama administration’s plan to find a new modus vivendi with the Kremlin based on the two country’s shared interests. “Putin has absolutely different values,” he told me. “Obama believes in freedom and the rule of law. Putin believes only in money, business, and power.” And while he welcomed American pressure on Moscow to observe the norms of human rights, he had no illusions about Washington’s ability to transform his country’s culture from afar. “I don’t think the American president or the American congress will establish democracy in our country. I think that’s our responsibility.”

He was right, of course. But that struggle, already difficult enough, will now become even harder in his absence.
Death on the Kremlin’s Doorstep | Foreign Policy

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Old 28th February 2015, 15:42
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16:37 28.02.2015 INTERFAX - UKRAINE

Ukrainian President Poroshenko said that the Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was going to disclose evidence of the involvement of Russian troops in the military actions in Ukraine.

"A few weeks ago I talked to him [Nemtsov] on how to build relations between Ukraine and Russia in the way we would like them be. Boris declared that he intended to make public conclusive strong proof of the participation of Russian armed forces in Ukraine. Someone was very afraid of this. Boris wasn't afraid, and the executioners were afraid. They killed him," the president said in Vinnytsia on Saturday.

According to Poroshenko, Boris Nemtsov was a great friend of Ukraine, Russian patriot, who was like a bridge connecting two states. He was building the most desirable for Ukrainians relations between Ukraine and Russia.

"On March 1, he supposed to lead a many thousand meeting to demonstrate that there is another Russian who loves Ukraine, respects human rights, for which freedom is not an empty phrase. And for the sake of freedom and democracy, he was ready to sacrifice his life," said Poroshenko.

Nemtsov was killed on Saturday night in Moscow downtown.
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Old 28th February 2015, 16:03
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World leaders condemn murder of Russian politician Boris Nemtsov
Former deputy PM and critic of Vladimir Putin who was due to lead major rally on Sunday was killed near the Kremlin
Shaun Walker in Moscow & Chris Johnston in London Saturday 28 February 2015 07.32 EST
THE GUARDIAN

World leaders led by David Cameron and Barack Obama have condemned the killing of prominent Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead in Moscow on Friday evening.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and a sharp critic of the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, was reportedly shot four times in the back by a killer in a passing car.

Cameron said the callous murder must be “fully, rapidly and transparently investigated, and those responsible brought to justice”.

“His life was dedicated to speaking up tirelessly for the Russian people, to demanding their right to democracy and liberty under the rule of law, and to an end to corruption,” the prime minister said. “He did so without fear, and never gave in to intimidation.”

The US president called on Russia’s government to conduct a “prompt, impartial and transparent” investigation, describing Nemtsov as a “tireless advocate” for citizens’ rights and fighting corruption.
‘Assassination’

A spokesman for German chancellor, Angela Merkel, said she was dismayed by Nemtsov’s killing and praised his courage in criticising government policies.

The office of the French president, François Hollande, described the killing as an “assassination” and described the politician as a “courageous and tireless defender of democracy and a dogged fighter against corruption”.

The killing took place in the very centre of Moscow late on Friday evening on a bridge near St Basil’s Cathedral and the Kremlin, two days before Nemtsov was due to lead a major opposition rally in Moscow.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the president would take the investigation into Nemtsov’s death under “personal control”, and that he believed the killing to be a provocation.

“Putin noted that this cruel killing has all the signs of a hit, and is a pure provocation,” said Peskov. He said Putin offered condolences to Nemtsov’s family.

Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev echoed the suggestion that the killing was a provocation: “It’s an attempt to push the situation into complications, maybe even to destabilising the situation in the country.”

Russia’s investigative committee was pursuing several lines on inquiry, including the possibility it was an attempt to destabilise the political landscape.

The committee, which reports to Putin, said the killing could be linked with events in Ukraine or have been carried out by radical Islamists. Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the committee, said Nemtsov had received threats in connection with his position on the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris last month.

Nemtsov, 55, was deputy prime minister during the 1990s in the government of Boris Yeltsin. He had written a number of reports in recent years linking Putin and his inner circle to corruption, and was one of the most well-known politicians among Russia’s small and beleaguered opposition.

‘Shot four times in the back’

Footage from the scene showed police experts examining the corpse of a man, dressed in jeans and lying on the tarmac, with the domes of St Basil’s in the background. Fellow opposition politicians confirmed the news, while a police spokeswoman said a manhunt was under way for the killer.

“He was shot four times in the back, as a result of which he died,” Elena Alekseyeva told Russian television. She added that the killer escaped in a light-coloured car.

Other official sources told Russian media that Nemtsov had been walking with a female companion, who was unharmed, at the time of the killing. The woman was reportedly a Ukrainian national and was taken for questioning by police. One report described her as a model who was 30 years his junior.

Just hours before his death, Nemtsov had appeared on Ekho Moskvy radio calling on Muscovites to attend an opposition march planned for Sunday. The march against Putin’s government and the war in Ukraine was due to take place in a suburb of Moscow.

On Saturday opposition leaders said they wanted to cancel the rally and hold a memorial event in the centre instead. Authorities said this would not be permitted.

Opposition figure Leonid Volkov later tweeted that a march had been sanctioned by the Moscow mayor’s office. It would go from Kitay-Gorod metro station to the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, where the politician was killed.

One of the other organisers of the march, Alexei Navalny, was jailed on 19 February for 15 days. Nemtsov himself had been detained briefly a number of times in recent years for taking part in political rallies, and was seen as one of the old guard of the Russian opposition.

“Today before the programme he asked me if I wasn’t scared to have him on air,” Alexei Venediktov, the editor-in-chief of Ekho Moskvy, tweeted. “It wasn’t me who needed to be scared.”

“We will answer Nemtsov’s murder with everyone coming out to the rally on 1 March, it’s the best thing we can do for now,” wrote Gennady Gudkov, another opposition politician, on Twitter.

The immediate reaction in Moscow was one of shock and amazement. While there has been a noticeable crackdown on opposition since Putin returned to the Kremlin in 2012, and especially since the conflict in Ukraine, no major political figure has been killed in Russia for a decade. Many previous contract killings, such as that of the investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006, were never solved.
‘Rolling into the abyss’

On Saturday morning, people came to lay flowers at the site of the murder.

Mikhail Kasyanov, a former Russian prime minister now also in opposition, said: “In the 21st century, a leader of the opposition is being demonstratively shot just outside the walls of the Kremlin.

“The country is rolling into the abyss.”

Russian pro-democracy activist and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov said on his Facebook page: “Devastated to hear of the cold-blooded murder of my long-time opposition colleague Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow, quite close to the Kremlin.

“Shot four times, once for each child he leaves behind. A man of Boris’s quality no longer fit Putin’s Russia.

“He always believed Russia could change from the inside and without violence; after 2012 I disagreed with this. When we argued, Boris would tell me I was too hasty and that in Russia you had to live a long time to see change. Now he’ll never see it. Rest In Peace.”

Michael McFaul, US ambassador to Russia from 2012-2014 and now a Stanford University professor, called the shooting “one of the most shocking things that I can remember happening in Russia for a long, long time”.

Earlier this month, Nemtsov gave an interview in which he said he was scared that Putin would try to have him killed. A self-assured and colourful character, Nemtsov enjoyed the media spotlight and never minced his words. He came to prominence as a reform-minded governor in the Nizhny Novgorod region during the 1990s, before he was named deputy prime minister under Yeltsin.

He had criticised Putin and his regime both for corruption and for the recent war in Ukraine, which he said was manufactured by Putin. He was featured in a number of lists of traitors and members of a supposed “fifth column” inside Russia published by pro-Kremlin and nationalist figures.

Putin himself has spoken of a “fifth column” in the country and, in recent weeks, politicians and nationalists launched an “anti-Maidan” movement in Russia and said they would not allow opposition politicians to create a Ukrainian-style uprising in Moscow, suggesting that the opposition was working at the behest of foreign enemies of Russia. World leaders condemn murder of Russian politician Boris Nemtsov | World news | The Guardian
===================
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Old 28th February 2015, 16:35
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The Warmonger: a video by Nemtsov proving Putin’s involvement in the war in Donbas
2015/02/28 • Featured, War in the Donbas

31 July 2014 – Russian opposition films a video film exposing Russia’s aggression in Ukraine and shares it online.

The film is called “Putin the warmonger.” In it, the Russian opposition proves Russia’s involvement in the downing of the Boeing-777 MH17 flight in Donbas and the direct involvement of Russian President Vladimir Putin in fomenting a military conflict in Ukraine.

“Since April 2014, Ukraine is conducting an anti-terrorist operation in East Ukraine. Putin denies supporting terrorists from Russia,” says the video’s description. The opposition emphasizes that there are five facts proving that Putin is lying, and that Russian authorities instigated the military conflict in Donbas.

MUST VIEW: The Warmonger: a video by Nemtsov proving Putin's involvement in the war in Donbas -Euromaidan Press |
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Old 28th February 2015, 16:51
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Intrigue and Fear Flood Russia After Killing of Boris Nemtsov
ANDREW E. KRAMER FEB. 28, 2015 NY TIMES

MOSCOW — About two weeks before he was shot and killed in the highest-profile political assassination in Russia in a decade, Boris Y. Nemtsov met with an old friend to discuss his latest research into what he said was dissembling and misdeeds in the Kremlin.

He was, as always, pugilistic and excited, saying he wanted to publish the research in a pamphlet to be called “Putin and the War,” about President Vladimir V. Putin and Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict, recalled Yevgenia Albats, the editor of New Times magazine. Both knew the stakes.

Mr. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, knew his work was dangerous but tried to convince her that, as a former high official in the Kremlin, he enjoyed a certain immunity, Ms. Albats said.

“He was afraid of being killed,” Ms. Albats said. “And he was trying to convince himself, and me, they wouldn’t touch him because he was a member of the Russian government, a vice premier, and they wouldn’t want to create a precedent. Because as he said, one time the power will change hands in Russia again, and those who served Putin wouldn’t want to create this precedent.”

As supporters of Mr. Nemtsov laid flowers on the sidewalk where he was shot and killed late Friday, a shiver of fear moved through the political opposition in Moscow.

The worry was that the killing would become a pivot point toward an even less pluralistic form of government for Russian domestic politics, already under strain from Russia’s unacknowledged involvement in the war in Ukraine and runaway inflation in an economic crisis.

“Another terrible page has been turned in our history,” Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the exiled former political prisoner, wrote in a statement about the killing.

“For more than a year now, the television screens have been flooded with pure hate for us,” he wrote of the opposition to Mr. Putin. “And now everyone from the blogger at his apartment desk to President Putin himself is searching for enemies, accusing one another of provocation. What is wrong with us?”

Russian authorities said on Saturday that they were investigating several theories about the crime, some immediately scorned as improbable, including the possibility that fellow members of the opposition had killed Mr. Nemtsov to create a martyr.

That line of investigation would examine whether Mr. Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former first deputy prime minister and longtime leader of the opposition, had become a “sacrificial victim” to rally support for opponents of the government, the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement.

The statement, the fullest official response to Mr. Nemtsov’s killing so far, said the police were pursing half a dozen leads in the case, the highest-profile assassination in Russia during the tenure of Mr. Putin.

The committee also cited the possibility that Islamic extremists had killed Mr. Nemtsov over his position on the Charlie Hedbo shootings in Paris, saying that security forces had been aware of threats against him from Islamist militants.

The committee also said that “radical personalities” on one or another side of the Ukrainian conflict might have been responsible. The statement said the police were also considering possible business or personal disputes as motives.

“The investigation is considering several versions,” the statements said. The first it listed was: “a murder as a provocation to destabilize the political situation in the country, where the figure of Nemtsov could have become a sort of sacrificial victim for those who stop at nothing to achieve their political goals.”

This explanation echoed and elaborated on a statement posted overnight on the Kremlin website, which also characterized the murder as a “provocation.”

“The president noted that this cruel murder has all the signs of a contract killing and carries an exclusively provocative character,” the Kremlin statement said. “Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of Boris Nemtsov, who died tragically.”

Mr. Putin, in a message to Mr. Nemtsov’s mother released by the Kremlin on Saturday, said that “everything will be done so that the organisers and perpetrators of a vile and cynical murder get the punishment they deserve,” Agence France-Presse reported.

Life News, a television station with close ties to the Russian security services, quoted a source as suggesting that Mr. Nemtsov was murdered in revenge for having caused a woman to have an abortion.

Law enforcement critics say this can serve to create a smokescreen of confusion in high-profile cases, but it also reflects a Soviet-era policy for managing the security services, under which investigators are credited with making progress when a version of events is ruled out — giving the police an incentive to begin with a wide array of improbable theories.

After laying flowers on the mound, and kneeling in respect before the blooms festooning the sidewalk on a rainy, glum midafternoon, Anatoly Chubais, a co-founder with Mr. Nemtsov of the Union of Right Forces political party, scorned the investigators’ claim.

“Today, we had a statement that the liberal opposition organized the killing,” he said. “Before this, they wrote that the liberals created the economic crisis. In this country, we have created demand for anger and hate.”

Ms. Albats, who had discussed with Mr. Nemtsov his last, unfinished research project, an expose of the unstated Russian military support for pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine, said of this state of affairs in domestic Russian politics, “we are at war now.”

“People with dreams about Russia’s democratic future are at war,” she said. “Those who are believers in democracy, those who for some reason, back in the late 1980s, got on board this train, and had all these hopes and aspirations, they are at war today.” http://www.nytimes.com/2015/03/01/wo...er=rss&emc=rss
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Old 28th February 2015, 17:09
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All Motives on the Table in Killing of Russian Opposition Figure Nemtsov
By Associated Press | February 28, 2015 EPOCH TIMES

Make sure to view SKY NEWS video:
All Motives on the Table in Killing of Russian Opposition Figure Nemtsov
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Old 28th February 2015, 18:04
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This combination picture made on Feb. 28 shows (from top to bottom, from left to right) Russian Human Rights activist Natalia Estemirova during a press conference in Grozny, Chechnya, on July 26, 2007, Russian businessman Boris Berezovsky during a memorial to murdered Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya in London, on October 13, 2006, leader of the Liberal Russia party Sergei Yushenkov during the congress of the movement 'Liberal Russia' in Moscow on February 08, 2003, former Russian intelligence agent Alexander Litvinenko during a press conference in London on September 14, 2004, Russian opposition leader and former cabinet minister Boris Nemtsov during a press conference in Moscow on August 17, 2007, an undated and unlocated handout image made available on January 20, 2009 by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta of Russian human-rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov, a handout photo provided on November 15, 2010 by Hermitage Capital Management and taken on December 29, 2006 of Russian lawyer Sergei Magnitsky in Moscow, an undated and unlocated handout image made available on January 20, 2009 by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta of Russian Novaya Gazeta reporter Anastasiya Baburova, and Russian journalist Anna Politkovskaya of Moscow's Novaya Gazeta newspaper speaking in New York on October 16, 2002. The list of Kremlin opponents who have been killed or died in suspicious circumstances in recent years got longer with the slaying of prominent opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow on Feb. 27.
AFP
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