Russian anti-Kremlin activist Alexei Navalny said Tuesday that he thought fellow opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was killed by members of either the state security services or a "pro-government organization" acting "on the orders of the political leadership of the country," including President Vladimir Putin.
He wrote in a blog post that "the only question is how the order was formulated: 'You must kill Nemtsov,' or 'You must carry out a noisy, high-profile action.' "
Navalny is serving a 15-day prison sentence for handing out leaflets promoting a protest and thus was not permitted to attend Nemtsov's funeral Tuesday.
Nemtsov, who was shot dead on a bridge near the Kremlin Friday night, was buried at Moscow's Troyekurovskoye Cemetery.
In his blog post, Navalny took issue with some liberal Russian politicians and analysts who, in the wake of Nemtsov's slaying, have accused the Kremlin of creating an atmosphere of hatred against the opposition through the state-controlled media, but say they do not think Putin or members of his government were directly involved in the killing.
Some of these same observers also have said that Nemtsov's murder was "disadvantageous" to Putin.
Calling such comments "nonsense," Navalny pointed to what he said were officially sanctioned "pro-government extremist terrorist groups" set up in recent months. He specifically cited the "Anti-Maidan” group, which held a pro-Kremlin demonstration in Moscow last month, and gunmen loyal to the pro-Moscow leader of Russia's Chechnya region, Ramzan Kadyrov.
In late December, Kadyrov offered Putin a "special regiment of volunteers" ready to defend "Russia, its stability and its borders." This unit, the Chechen leader said, is ready to carry out "any order of the national leader of Russia" and protect Russia's "legitimate interests" anywhere in the world.
Navalny said groups that have "expressly declared their goal to fight the opposition where the police cannot" have been created during "meetings in the Kremlin" to carry out "acts of terror" like the killing of Nemtsov.
Such actions are "beneficial to Putin," Navalny wrote, citing the examples of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and Chilean military dictator Augusto Pinochet. "Open a history textbook," he added.
Putin, whose official residence is inside the Kremlin, called the killing a provocation and vowed to find whoever was responsible. The president is said to be overseeing the investigation.