Boris Nemtsov’s fierce opposition to the actions taken by the Putin Administration in Russia was one of the strongest seen. Nemtsov, a former Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin, was one of the most influential people in the introduction of capitalism in Russia after the Soviet Union’s fall in 1991. He was a leader of, along with Gerry Kasparov, the Solidarnost movement in Russia.
Nemtsov in more recent years was a powerful critic of President Vladimir Putin’s policies, especially the corruption related to the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the invasion of Ukraine. In the last months he had been planning marches in Russia to protest these 2 major actions by the Putin government.
But, on February 27th, Boris Nemtsov was shot 4 times in the back and killed right in front of the Kremlin.
The assassination of Boris Nemtsov appears to be a contract killing, which has become much-used by the Putin government to silence its critics. Dramatically staged in front of the Kremlin on the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, Nemtsov’s murder was a message to the Russian people that dissent will not be tolerated by Vladimir Putin.
The official story is that the identity of the killer(s) is unknown. Pro-Putin supporters say that Nemtsov gave Putin no credible threat and therefore the President had no reason to order his assassination. They, and the Russian media, try to pin the blame on Islamic terrorists who may have strived for vengeance for Nemtsov’s stance on the Charlie Hebdo attack.
If we believe that Islamic terror theory, why Nemtsov? Why not someone who influenced Russian actions toward Muslims much more than Nemtsov? Why not Putin himself, because of his leadership of the Chechen Wars? The theory just doesn’t make sense.
The only reason that checks out is that Putin himself ordered Nemtsov’s assassination. This would follow precedent, as evidenced by the high-profile killings of Anna Politkovskaya, Alexander Litvinenko, and Boris Berezovsky, among others. In all of these cases, those killed had fervently worked to protect democracy from the Putin Administration’s goal to dismantle it.
The real reason Nemtsov was killed now, in February 2015, was revealed by Russian dissenter Kseniya Sobchak (daughter of Putin’s mentor Anatoly Sobchak). Sobchak said that Nemtsov was preparing an exposé definitively proving the presence of Russian troops in eastern Ukraine. This would have changed the game in Putin’s mission to conquer Ukraine, and this is backed up with the report that Nemtsov’s hard drive and papers were confiscated by police subsequent to his murder. So, Putin had Boris Nemtsov killed for the dual reasons of preventing the Russian presence in Ukraine report and to continue to build the culture of fear in Russia. Putin’s goal is not to return to the Soviet Union, but that is an inspiration. He strives to create the strongest Russian Empire ever known, and runs the government on violent Russian nationalism and fear. Of course, an empire cannot be built when dissent is present. Which is why Vladimir Putin killed Boris Nemtsov. And why this is just the beginning.