News / Europe

    Moscow Prepares for March Commemorating Russian Opposition Leader

    People carry portraits of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down on Friday near the Kremlin, with words reading "He fought for a free of Russia, He fought for our future!" in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2015.
    People carry portraits of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down on Friday near the Kremlin, with words reading "He fought for a free of Russia, He fought for our future!" in Moscow, Russia, March 1, 2015.
    Daniel Schearf

    Authorities are preparing for tens of thousands to march in central Moscow Sunday in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot to death late Friday after urging people to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin and the war in Ukraine.

    FILE - Boris Nemtsov, shown in 2011, will be memorialized in a march Sunday in Moscow.FILE - Boris Nemtsov, shown in 2011, will be memorialized in a march Sunday in Moscow.
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    FILE - Boris Nemtsov, shown in 2011, will be memorialized in a march Sunday in Moscow.
    FILE - Boris Nemtsov, shown in 2011, will be memorialized in a march Sunday in Moscow.

    The march, which will replace a previously planned opposition rally, was approved almost immediately by city officials Saturday. They've granted a permit for up to 50,000 participants.

    The officials' press service said "sufficient personnel and material will be used," along with "necessary additional measures of control," the Interfax news agency reported.

    The event is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m. local time. 

    Putin, meanwhile, has pledged to find and prosecute those responsible for the murder of his prominent critic.

    "Everything will be done to give the organizers and executors of this base and cynical murder the punishment they deserve," he promised in a note of condolence to Nemtsov's mother, Dina Eidman.

    The message, which the Russian president's office shared the message with Interfax, also said he sincerely shared Eidman's sorry, and he called Nemtsov's death an irreparable loss.

    People gather at the site where Boris Nemtsov was recently murdered, with St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the background, in central Moscow, Feb. 28, 2015.People gather at the site where Boris Nemtsov was recently murdered, with St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the background, in central Moscow, Feb. 28, 2015.
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    People gather at the site where Boris Nemtsov was recently murdered, with St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the background, in central Moscow, Feb. 28, 2015.
    People gather at the site where Boris Nemtsov was recently murdered, with St. Basil's Cathedral seen in the background, in central Moscow, Feb. 28, 2015.

    But just a few weeks ago, Nemtsov told the Russian news website Sobesednik that he thought Putin wanted him dead, and he did not hold back his contempt for the Russian leader.

    "I'm afraid Putin will kill me. I believe that he was the one who unleashed the war in Ukraine. I couldn't dislike him more," Nemtsov said.

    Nemtsov was walking across a bridge over the Moscow River with a Ukrainian woman when gunmen drove up and fired from their car window. Russia's interior minister said Nemtsov was shot four times, within sight of the Kremlin. The woman was not injured.

    After police removed Nemtsov's body, mourners began piling bouquets of flowers at the scene.

    Just hours before he was gunned down, Nemtsov appeared on Russia's Ekho Moskvy radio urging Moscow residents to come out for Sunday's rally. It was to focus on Russia's involvement in Ukraine and the economic crisis at home.

    Slaying condemned

    Nemtsov's violent death provoked cries of condemnation, as well as tributes to the slain man, from other international figures.  

    Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Saturday decried Nemtsov's murder, calling him a "bridge" between Ukraine and Russia.

    Poroshenko also said Nemtsov had been preparing a report containing evidence of Russian involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine, something the Kremlin repeatedly has denied. The murder was committed to silence him, the president suggested.

    "Boris declared that he must show convincing proof of Russian troops’ participation in Ukraine," Poroshenko told Interfax, mentioning a recent meeting with the opposition leader. "Someone was afraid of that very much. Boris wasn’t afraid, but his executioners were. They killed him."

    U.S. President Barack Obama denounced the "brutal" murder and called on Russia to carry out a prompt and impartial investigation. He called Nemtsov "a tireless advocate for his country" and "one of the most eloquent defenders" of the rights of the Russian people.

    John Tefft, U.S. ambassador to Russia, called Nemtsov a "great patriot of Russia."

    France's President Francois Hollande also expressed anger at Nemtsov's death. He called the shooting a "hateful murder" and described Nemtsov as a "defender of democracy."

    Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, like Putin, sent condolences to the victim's family.

    "Boris Nemtsov was one of the most talented politicians of the period of democratic reforms in our country," Medvedev said in remarks posted on a government website. "To his last day, he remained a vivid personality and a man of principle. His actions were open and consistent, and he never reneged on his views."

    Kremlin handling murder case

    A Putin spokesman said the murder bore the hallmarks of a contract killing and described it as a "provocation." The Kremlin will oversee the investigation, he said.

    Russia's Investigative Committee is exploring several lines of inquiry, a spokesman, Vladimir Markin, said Saturday. The crime could be an attempt to destabilize the political situation or it also could be linked with Islamic extremism or the situation in Ukraine, he said.

    “First of all, of course, it is the possibility that the murder could be a provocation to destabilize the political situation in Russia,” Markin said. “And Nemtsov could become a sacrificial victim for those who would not stop before using any means to reach their political goals.''

    Markin said the committee also was “closely looking into a possibility that the murder could have links with Islamist extremism. The investigation has information that Nemtsov received threats linked to his position about the shooting at the Charlie Hebdo magazine office in Paris.''

    Opposed Russian aggression in Ukraine

    Nemtsov was a deputy prime minister in the 1990s and many Russian observers predicted he would succeed then-President Boris Yeltsin.

    But Yeltsin instead chose Putin as his successor. After Putin's subsequent election in 2000, Nemtsov became one of Russia's sharpest and most outspoken critics of the leader, especially since last year's uprising in Ukraine.

    In September, Nemtsov told VOA that Putin wants revenge for Ukraine's overthrow of its pro-Russian president.

    He said Putin fears that what happened in Ukraine could happen in Russia and sees a pro-European Ukraine as a threat to his own power.

    In an op-ed titled “Why does Putin wage war with Ukraine?” published in the Kyiv Post in September, Nemtsov blasted the Russian president. "Moreover, Ukraine chose the European way, which implies the rule of law, democracy and change of power," he wrote. "Ukraine's success on this way is a direct threat to Putin's power because he chose the opposite course — a lifetime in power, filled with arbitrariness and corruption."

    In his comments Friday on Ekho Moskvy radio, Nemtsov reiterated his aversion to Putin’s stance on Ukraine, calling it "a mad, aggressive and deadly policy."

    "The country needs political reform," Nemtsov said. "When power is concentrated in the hands of one person and this person rules forever, this will lead to an absolute catastrophe."

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    Comments page of 3
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    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    March 01, 2015 5:14 PM
    Regardless of all these pro-Putin and anti-Putin comments in this forum, one thing is for sure: Russians care about one of their's being murdered, regardless who is responsible. You haven't seen one protest, nor article, about Russians being furious about Putin's military and weapons that have been killing women and children in Ukraine! You have seen Americans doing that against Bush! Rightfully so. But nothing from Russians since the whole Ukrainian mess started. Nothing from the Russians about thier own Missile system being used by the Russian-armed rebels when they shot down the Malaysian plane.........NOTHING!!!!! But now we should feel warm and fuzzy about Russians protesting Putin about this...............HAS EVERYONE LOST THEIR EVER-LOVING MINDS HERE!!!!!!!!!!! There is nothing joyous about this, and you people need to understand that this is Russia, stop taking sides!
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 03, 2015 6:34 AM
    Avoided my point, then you talk about logic. Why is there's investigation on the plane crash which US has agreed upon? Talks sense, you seem so desperate you grasping straws here.
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    March 02, 2015 4:39 PM
    OK, Anonymous, let's continue with your logical rant. If Russia wasn't responsible or had a way to spin the idea that Russia isn't responsible for the Malaysian plane, then they would have already done so! Plus, pay attention here, they have the radio recordings of the rebels acknowledging what they did and they were pleased that they were successful in shooting down that plane! You are obviously Russian by the way you use English and the fact that you missed the entire point I made.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 02, 2015 6:57 AM
    I think you've lost your mind here, when did you decided the outcome of investigation of airplane? I don't see any americans stopping drones or US wars' that have KILLED thousands of innocent people. In fact, they get hurt if a service man is killed but not an innocent child. Seems like world's country justice, is morally bankrupt and lives in 8th century barbarism. I mean how much are americans going lie, that you make such an obvious lie.

    by: Anonymous
    March 01, 2015 12:46 PM
    Not enough facts. Why wasn't the girl touched? Seems odd, though fortunate.

    by: anti paid troll from: china
    March 01, 2015 11:58 AM
    Lots of pro Putin trolls reiterate that nemtsov was a marginal person in Russia, with little support. Be that as it may, the comments on news websites about his murder number in the thousands, within a short time.
    In Response

    by: Richard Baker
    March 01, 2015 12:42 PM
    You made the point, Nemtsov was marginal and why would Putin have him killed so he could become a martyr? Why did his girl friend run to the car after he was killed. At 55 Nemtsov should known to kept his hands out the cradle. Was he killed due to this relationship or was he becoming a liability to his supporters?

    by: anyone from: USA
    March 01, 2015 11:53 AM
    Hit no doubt. From who? USA? Kremlin? Poster from Russia says he was a has been in politics? Is he another CIA puppet figure or was Putin really worried bout him & what hr was gonna reveal regarding war in Ukraine? Personally I think orders came from Putin. To many renegade actions from him in last year or so.

    by: Anonymous
    March 01, 2015 11:36 AM
    Oh. U guys have no clues....Putin is the man..everybody is mad at him without cause...go ahead and put Charlie attack on the French president also

    by: Eddy from: New York
    March 01, 2015 11:36 AM
    I hope this causes a revolution and causes the Russian federation to start its breakup.
    In Response

    by: Anonymous
    March 02, 2015 6:58 AM
    Internet redneck, now knows all Russian, who's failing for non-sense thoughts with nationalistic angel
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    March 01, 2015 5:16 PM
    Well, careful what you wish for, after all, ALL of the Russians have been supportive of Putin's agression. Just because they disagree with this about Putin, doesn't make them any better. Stop falling into non-sense thoughts.
    In Response

    by: anti paid troll from: china
    March 01, 2015 11:59 AM
    Just hope the nukes there are secured.

    by: Ed from: USA
    March 01, 2015 10:31 AM
    Hopefully, after this assassination, more Russians will finally realize their government for the ruthless power mongers they are.

    by: Nataliya Dzikh
    March 01, 2015 10:13 AM
    It is clearly Kremlin's order. Putin personal order - no question here. Putin 's behavior for last year is getting out of hands. It looks like he is scared to death and because of that removes people that scare him the most. The little drop of democracy being prosecuted . The question is how much Russians will tolerate this dictator? Is that nation have some pride left to stop Putin?
    In Response

    by: 1worldnow from: Earth
    March 01, 2015 5:19 PM
    Yeah, let's hope that these same people that have been supportive of Putin's military and weapons (that are being used to kill Ukrainian women and children) rise up and say enough! So what, Putin kills one of their own. Where were their voices and protests when Putin's military and weapons were killing innocent people in another nation?

    by: Aaron Brand from: US
    March 01, 2015 9:43 AM
    Putin was clearly responsible. He changes the constitution to stay in power, attempts to overthrow sovereign nations to expand his empire, and kills opponents. Can the Russian people survive this dictator?

    by: John Doe from: Dallas
    March 01, 2015 4:20 AM
    This is clearly a hit to try to spin Russia out of control.
    In Response

    by: Ed from: Idaho
    March 01, 2015 10:34 AM
    Wrong! Its a hit orchestrated by a man who thinks he has ironclad control of his subservient state.
    Comments page of 3
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