(Bloomberg) — Russians prepared for the funeral of slain
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov as his allies tried to galvanize
supporters for a new wave of protests against President Vladimir
Deputy Prime Ministers Arkady Dvorkovich and Sergey
Prikhodko, carrying red flowers, arrived for Nemtsov’s memorial
service at the Andrei Sakharov Museum Tuesday morning in Moscow.
He was shot four times in the back while walking on a bridge
just steps from the Kremlin last week before he was slated to
lead a protest against Putin.
The murder of Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister in
the 1990s, prompted more than 50,000 to join a march in his
memory on Sunday. Opposition activists, including Nemtsov, had
originally planned a rally in a suburb of Moscow, betting the
gathering economic crisis would revive public support for their
campaigns against the Kremlin.
“We need to seriously think what to do from now on,”
Leonid Volkov, an opposition leader and organizer of the March 1
memorial, said by phone. “We were at a low point but now some
things have crystallized that allow us to make plans. I think
it’s the start of a new wave of protests. It’s a real shame it
took such an event for that to happen.”
A line of mourners curved in front of the Sakharov museum,
named for the physicist and dissident who later won the Nobel
Peace Prize. Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, now an
opposition activist, former U.K. Prime Minister John Major,
billionaire Mikhail Fridman and U.S. Ambassador to Russia John
Tefft joined the throngs filing through a brick-walled room,
lined with photographs of Nemtsov and past the open casket. His
funeral takes place at the Troekurovskoe cemetery later today.
“It’s a terrible sign for Russia today,” Anna Kuritsina,
30, a German-Russian translator from Moscow, said while standing
in line, holding a red carnation. “I am frightened for the
future. There is more uncertainty now than there was even in the
During Putin’s third term in office, the country’s
relations with the U.S. and European Union have deteriorated to
the worst point since the Cold War over a conflict in Ukraine
that has killed more than 6,000 and displaced more than 1
million people. Russia’s economy is set to shrink 3 percent this
year, the first contraction since 2009, hit by falling oil
prices and U.S. and EU sanctions.
Nemtsov was assassinated in one of the country’s most
heavily guarded spots, where security cameras monitor
practically every inch of space. As investigators continued
gathering evidence, Russia’s Federal Guard Service said on
Monday that its cameras at the Kremlin didn’t record the
killing, which took place away from their area of surveillance,
RIA Novosti reported.
No video is available of the shooting because cameras in
the area were not working, Kommersant newspaper reported on
Monday, citing unidentified Interior Ministry sources. At the
same time, Yelena Novikova, a spokeswoman for Moscow’s
information technology department, said that all cameras
“belonging to the city” were operating properly on the night
Nemtsov died, the Associated Press reported Monday.
Anna Duritskaya, the Ukrainian model who was with Nemtsov
when he was gunned down as they walked across a bridge near the
Kremlin late on Friday, said that the killer had approached from
behind before escaping after the shooting.
“I didn’t see the man,” she told Russia’s Dozhd TV in an
interview on Monday. “Turning around, I only saw a light-colored car leaving, but I didn’t see what model or its
Grainy footage from a security camera on the opposite side
of the bridge, released by the TVC television channel, appears
to show the killer escaping from the scene. The moment of the
shooting is blocked by a snow plow on the road next to Nemtsov.
Putin said in a telegram of condolences to Nemtsov’s mother
that everything would be done to punish the organizers of the
“vile and cynical” murder.
Russia’s opposition has blamed the government for creating
an atmosphere that led to the slaying after anti-Putin activists
were labeled “fifth columnists” on state television and at
A Moscow court refused a request by opposition leader
Alexey Navalny to attend the funeral, according to RIA. Navalny
had been due to lead the original anti-Putin protest until he
was jailed for 15 days on Feb. 20 for handing out leaflets.
Bogdan Borusewicz, speaker of Poland’s upper house of
parliament, also told reporters in Warsaw on Monday that he was
declined entry to Russia to attend the ceremony.
Putin has taken the investigation under his “personal
control” and believes the killing to be a provocation, his
spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Saturday. Russia’s criminal
investigative committee has said it is looking at several
possible motives, including whether Nemtsov was a sacrificial
lamb to destabilize Russia or if Islamist extremists angry over
his support for French magazine Charlie Hebdo killed him.
“Even without the state propaganda, the attitude to
Nemtsov was negative,” Alexandra Borisova, 24, a computer
programmer from Moscow, said in line at his wake. “In Russia,
they don’t love liberals.”
To contact the editors responsible for this story:
Balazs Penz at
Torrey Clark, Tony Halpin