Boris Nemtsov murder: Thousands set to march in Moscow – BBC News

Posted: Sunday, March 01, 2015

People lay flowers in memory of Boris Nemtsov in St Petersburg, Russia - 28 February 2015The memorial march is expected to attract tens of thousands of opposition supporters

Thousands of people are expected to take to the streets of Moscow to honour opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead on Friday.

He was due to lead an opposition march on Sunday but his supporters will now be marching to mourn his death.

President Vladimir Putin condemned Mr Nemtsov’s murder as “vile and cynical” and vowed to find the killers.

Mr Nemtsov’s allies call it a political killing linked to his opposition to Mr Putin and the Ukraine conflict.

Opposition supporters are due to gather in central Moscow at 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT) on Sunday, before marching to the spot on Great Moskvoretsky Bridge where Mr Nemtsov was killed.

Moscow city authorities had previously approved a march for up to 50,000 people but organisers said more people might now attend following the murder.

‘They won’t stop us’

As night fell on Saturday, flowers were piled up a metre high and two metres wide on the bridge.

Placards read: “We are all Nemtsov” and “Je Suis Boris” – the latter a reference to the Je Suis Charlie messages of support following the Charlie Hebdo killings in Paris in January.


At the scene: Sarah Rainsford, BBC News, Moscow

People gather at the site where Boris Nemtsov was recently killed, in central Moscow

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Sarah Rainsford says the killing has stunned Russia’s opposition

There is now a mountain of flowers on the spot where Boris Nemtsov was shot, right next to the Kremlin.

People have tied bouquets to the wall of the bridge, and to lampposts. They have brought photographs, handwritten posters and poems. One written in red ink said: “Boris, they were frightened of you.”

Many here believe that Boris Nemtsov was killed for his political views. They blame President Putin for fanning the flames of nationalism to dangerous heights, where political dissidents are now seen as traitors – the “enemy within.”

Amidst the flowers and candles are flyers for the opposition rally Boris Nemtsov had been helping to organise on Sunday. Instead, the crowds will gather for a march of mourning.

Who was Boris Nemtsov?

Nemtsov killing polarises society

Russian and world reaction


One of those attending, Alexander Badiyev, said: “This was ordered by Putin, without a shadow of a doubt. They have shown us what the fate will be of all those who are against them.”

Opposition activist Mark Galperin said: “People are afraid to support our movement. Opposition activists receive threats every day and Boris was no exception. But they won’t stop us.”

Former Yabloko party leader Grigory Yavlinsky said: “The political responsibility for this murder lies with the authorities and personally President Putin.”

Boris Nemtsov - file image

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Mr Nemtsov called for “honest elections” hours before he was killed

A number of European ambassadors laid wreaths.

Former UK ambassador to Russia, Sir Tony Brenton, told the BBC there was now “an atmosphere of political hysteria in Russia”.

“And that is an atmosphere which has generated a lot of really rather nasty right-wing ex-soldiers’ groups to come to the surface. And it is quite possible that it is a group like that that was responsible for Boris’s death.”

‘Contract hit’

Russia’s Investigative Committee said it was looking into a number of possible motives, including Mr Nemtsov’s opposition to the Ukraine war, his political and personal life, Islamic extremism or an attempt to destabilise the state.

A number of pro-government figures suggested Mr Nemtsov had been made a sacrificial victim to show the state in a bad light.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Putin-backed leader of Chechnya, blamed “Western special services, trying by any means to create internal conflict in Russia”.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Putin had noted “that this cruel murder has all the makings of a contract hit and is extremely provocative”.

Others suggested there could have been personal enmity over his private or business life.

Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, May 2012Mr Nemtsov served as first deputy PM under Boris Yeltsin but fell out of favour with Mr Putin

A group of EU ambassadors to Russia lays flowers in Moscow - 28 February 2015A group of EU ambassadors to Russia laid flowers at the murder scene in Moscow

People react as they gather in memory of Boris Nemtsov near the monument of political prisoners in central St.Petersburg - 28 February 2015Crowds of mourners gathered at the site of Mr Nemtsov’s death throughout Saturday

Mr Nemtsov was reportedly preparing documents on Russian military involvement in Ukraine in the weeks before his death.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said: “Boris had declared he would provide clear evidence of Russian armed forces’ participation in [the war] in Ukraine. Somebody was afraid of this… They killed him.”

‘He’ll kill you’

Mr Nemtsov, 55, had been dining at a restaurant with his girlfriend Anna Duritskaya on Friday night.

They left together to walk to his flat, crossing the bridge, where a white car drew up and Mr Nemtsov was shot four times with a pistol at around 23:40 (20:40 GMT).

Member of the public in Russia

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Russians give their reaction to the death of Boris Nemtsov

Footage on Russian TV showed a white Lada Priora car in the area but there was no confirmation it was the one involved. One shot showed someone running along the road and jumping into the waiting car, which sped off.

In a telegram to Mr Nemtsov’s mother, published on the Kremlin website, Mr Putin vowed to bring the killers to justice. He praised Mr Nemtsov’s openness and honesty.

Mr Nemtsov served as first deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in the 1990s but fell out of favour with Mr Putin and became an outspoken opponent.

He told the weekly Sobesednik recently that his mother was worried about him.

“She is more worried about Putin than Ukraine. Every time I call her, she gives me a talking-to: ‘When will you stop being rude about Putin? He’ll kill you.'”


Violent deaths of Putin opponents

April 2003 – Liberal politician Sergey Yushenkov assassinated near his Moscow home

July 2003 – Investigative journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin died after 16-day mysterious illness

July 2004 – Forbes magazine Russian editor Paul Klebnikov shot from moving car on Moscow street, died later in hospital

October 2006 – Investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya shot dead outside her Moscow apartment

November 2006 – Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died nearly three weeks after drinking tea laced with polonium in London hotel

March 2013Boris Berezovsky, former Kremlin power broker turned Putin critic, found dead in his UK home


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