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Tags: Putin | Russia | opposition | leader | killed

Putin Critic Boris Nemtsov Shot Dead in Moscow

Friday, 27 February 2015 05:37 PM EST

Boris Nemtsov, a Russian politician who rose to prominence in the first rush of reform after the Soviet collapse and then fell out with President Vladimir Putin, was shot to death just a short distance from the Kremlin.

Nemtsov was killed while walking across a bridge near St. Basil’s Cathedral with a Ukrainian woman around 11:15 p.m. local time Friday, according to Interior Ministry spokeswoman Elena Alekseeva. A car approached and several shots were fired, four of which hit Nemtsov in the back, she said.

At least seven or eight shots were fired, the Russian Investigative Committee said on its website.

Before Nemtsov was killed, he and other opposition leaders had been planning a March 1 rally in Moscow that they hoped would attract as many as 100,000 people. In light of his murder, the protest was canceled, and organizers will seek to hold a mourning march on the same day, opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov said.

Nemtsov had been getting death threats and was working on a report about Putin and Russia’s involvement in the civil war in Ukraine, according to Ilya Yashin, an opposition leader.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said by phone that “the president noted that there are all the signs that this was a hit and also an extreme provocation.”

“This is not a provocation, this is a reprisal,” said Kasyanov, a former prime minister. “It’s intimidation; we won’t be frightened. It’s up to the investigators to determine who ordered the shooting. I am sure that the opposition will pull together more tightly.”

The Obama administration in Washington condemned the “brutal murder” of Nemtsov and in a statement released via Twitter called on the Russian government to conduct an impartial and transparent investigation.

“I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009,” U.S. President Barack Obama said in an e-mailed statement from the White House.

Other Putin critics who have been killed in recent years include Alexander Litvinenko, a former Russian spy who died in London in 2006 after drinking radioactive tea, and Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist who chronicled corruption under Putin and human-rights abuses during Russia’s conflict with separatists in Chechnya, who was gunned down in 2006.

Nemtsov, 55, rose to prominence in the 1990s as a pro-reform politician during the presidency of Boris Yeltsin shortly after the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He was governor of Nizhny Novogorod, a region that was associated with early efforts to promote a market-oriented transformation of the Russian economy. He then went to Moscow to become a deputy prime minister under Yeltsin.

After Putin succeeded Yeltsin in late 1999, Nemtsov became a critic and a leader of the opposition movement.

“It’s quite symbolic that it’s liberal politicians who get assassinated in Russia and the market probably won’t like it,” Ian Hague, a founding partner at New York-based Firebird Management LLC, which oversees about $1.1 billion in assets including Russian stocks, said by phone.

“A lot depends on the facts around the case,” Hague said. “If it emerges that it was politically motivated, the market reaction could be bad.”

© Copyright 2024 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

Russia's Interior Ministry says Boris Nemtsov, a leading opposition figure and former deputy prime minister, has been shot and killed near the Kremlin.Nemtsov, a sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was killed early Saturday. His death comes just a day before a major...
Putin, Russia, opposition, leader, killed
Friday, 27 February 2015 05:37 PM
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