Boris Nemstov was shot on a bridge near the Kremlin Friday night around midnight. Reports say that several men who had jumped out of a car shot Nemtsov while he was walking with a woman. He was shot as many as four times but there have been no indications that anyone else was injured. Nemtsov had been an outspoken critic of Putin and the Russian government and had appeared on such shows as Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown expressing his discontent with the political atmosphere in Russia.
Nemtsov was 55 years old and was first deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yelstin. He was currently co-chair of the political party Parnas and a leader of the anti-Kremlin movement group Solidarnost. Just hours before his death he had appeared on a Russian radio show asking for ”honest elections.” Russian President Vladimir Putin via telegram to Nemtsov’s mother expressed his condolences and offered praise for the integrity he held in leading with honesty and openness. Putin said he would do all he can to bring the assailants of his murder to justice.
Many feel that Nemstov has left a real mark on Russian history through his steadfast political activity and the way he presented himself in public life. Current Prime Minister Dmitry Medveddev said that Nemstov was a “principled person” who “acted openly, consistently and never betrayed his views.” This indeed seems to be the way many saw this vocal Russian politician.
While this style of street-assassination was seen at times during the 1990’s, they had all but stopped under Putin’s presidency. This makes Nemtsov’s murder even more surprising and shocking to the public. Any investigation that is conducted is likely to take a long time. As has been the case with many other situations similar to this, it is doubtful that Russian authorities will make public any names of suspects or report whether they do apprehend anyone for the murder.
Several leaders of nations have vocalized their opinions on the shooting. U.S. President Barack Obama has said this was a “brutal murder.” Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko has written on Facebook that Nemtsov had been a “bridge” between the two countries and his death has “destroyed” it. Frank-Walter Steinmeier, German Foreign Minister, expressed emotionally that Nemtsov’s death makes one angry, sad and that “Russia loses an experienced politician who was prepared to assume responsibility for his country.”
Nemtsov in recent days had been planning a parade with the focus of protesting the war in Ukraine that was to take place Sunday. There have been indications that some would like to turn this parade into a memorial for the Russian Nemtsov however city officials had declined to change the type of permit required for such a demonstration because it requires an application to be submitted 10 days in advance.
Nemtsov was shot on a bridge with the Kremlin in the background which some feel is symbolic of his struggle to influence the leading party in Russia. His legacy will be remembered as one of “openness and consistency.”
By Joel Wickwire