The Nemtsov assassination: warning shots to the Kremlin’s opponents

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Series Details 04.03.15
Publication Date 04/03/2015
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At around 11.30 pm Moscow time on 27 February 2015, one of the leaders of the Russian opposition, Boris Nemtsov, was shot dead by unknown attackers on a bridge near the Kremlin, as he was returning home in the company of a friend, a Ukrainian model.

It should be considered most likely that Nemtsov was murdered with the aid of Russian secret services, at the behest of persons from the highest circles of Russia’s leadership, in order to intimidate not just the opposition but also the wider political elite, and to discourage them and ordinary citizens from participating in activities directed against the Kremlin. It is less likely that radical nationalists spontaneously carried out the assassination in order to punish ‘a traitor to the nation’ and persuade the authorities to crack down in both domestic and foreign policy. Nemtsov’s death will not currently lead to the mass mobilisation of the opposition or any kind of political turning point in Russia.

However, the authorities may try to exploit it to create the impression that they are a bulwark against radical nationalism. Nemtsov’s death may also signal a new, much harsher phase in the Kremlin’s repression of all forms of opposition.

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