Political Opponent of Vladimir Putin Slain

Will Tarpley, Reporter

Thousands of protesters march in Moscow, decrying the Russian government. While protests like these are actually quite common at the gates of the Kremlin, this time, the reasons aren’t the same. The protesters are actually accusing the Kremlin of murdering a certain political opponent, Mr. Boris Nemtsov.

Nemtsov was killed in a drive-by shooting on Feb 27, sparking the aforementioned outrage. Now, who was Nemtsov, you ask?

Nemtsov was the Prime Minister of Russia for a few months in 1998, under Boris Yeltsin, before being removed. Since then, he became a “political scientist”, a “scientist” who studies social and philosophical behavior. Due to the controversy surrounding Vladimir Putin’s administration, and his strong disapproval of it, Nemtsov became a popular player in Russian politics.

Nemtsov had participated in earlier protests when the Soviet Union was around, including a protest in his hometown against the superpower’s response to the Chernobyl Incident. When he joined the Russian government, he was, for awhile, the only non-communist candidate at elections, and seeked to introduce reformed policies after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Lately, Nemtsov had been speaking out against Putin for his involvement in the on-going Ukrainian Civil War. He had written numerous articles and papers on the subject, and on Feb. 10, he publicly announced that he feared that Putin would have him killed for doing so. As stated in the second paragraph, Nemtsov was, indeed, killed.

The death, as stated, has caused large protests, with many, of course, pointing their fingers at Putin himself, and probably for good reason. Mr. Nemtsov is not the only critic of Putin to have been publicly slain. Another notable critic of the Russian government, Anna Politkovskaya, was murdered in her home, back in 2006. Numerous critics, shockingly enough, have been murdered for harsh criticism of  the Russian government, leading to theories against Putin and the FSB, Russia’s Federal Security Service.

In response to the protests, President Vladimir Putin has announced that he will be heading an “open and transparent investigation” into Nemtsov’s death. It seems legitimate enough, with police having already seized the vehicle suspected to have been used in the drive-by, and the head of the investigating group, Alexander Drymanov, is a veteran of similar cases from before.

However, police seized all documents, papers and hard drives from Nemtsov’s flat. While the official explanation has explained that investigators are trying to determine to see if Nemtsov was onto anything, this could possibly be a move from the Russian government to move in and acquire all of Nemtsov’s data and destroy any possibly leads he may’ve had on corruption, or possibly “terminate” any leads Nemtsov had, which wouldn’t be surprising considering the aforementioned dead journalists.

Furthermore, the mother of Nemtsov’s girlfriend, 23-year-old model Anna Duritskaya, who was traveling with Nemtsov at the time, has claimed that Anna had been under pressure by police after the shooting, as well as disclosing to her mother to being under surveillance. The latter could just be a case of regular paranoia, but the paranoia may be justified, considering Russia’s record on certain kinds of censorship.

While the Russian government is investigating the murder, they do not have quite a clean record on corruption. What needs to happen is an independent investigation, possibly conducted secretly by other journalists, or by the U.N. For all we know, the murder could’ve been committed by someone who was simply an extremist Putin supporter; but Russia’s past record and shady incidents in the past doesn’t really support evidence that it is above ordering the killing of critics.

Either way, one thing’s for certain: Boris Nemtsov was murdered, and it was politically motivated. Despite the tension, and supposedly transparent investigation, we may never know who really killed Nemtsov and why. Unfortunately, the sounds of people protesting outside the Kremlin don’t seem as if they’ll go away anytime soon.