On the evening of February 27, 2015, Russian opposition politician Boris Nemstov was crossing a bridge near Moscow’s Red Square. Suddenly, a gunman fired several shots into the politician, killing him nearly instantly.
The murder shocked both Russia and the world. Nemtsov had been a near constant, if not always mainstream presence in Russian politics since the 1990s. His name was synonymous with the country’s liberal opposition.
Three years later, five men have been found guilty of involvement in the murder and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. However, Nemtsov’s family and supporters believe that the true organizer of the assassination has not faced justice. They believe that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov — whom Nemtsov frequently criticized — is involved and have called for him to face a criminal investigation.
Although years have passed and Nemtsov’s murder is officially a closed case, Russians refuse to forget the man who dreamed of a better future for his country. On February 25, people in upwards of 30 Russian cities held memorial demonstrations for the slain politician.
Some came with signs depicting the Russian flag riddled with bullet holes, portraits of Nemtsov, and signs that asked “Who ordered [the killing]?”
Photo credit: EPA.com
Nemtsov began his political career as a the reformist governor of Russia’s industrial Nizhny Novgorod region. There, his experimental reform plan helped to bring about economic growth. He then served as Russia’s deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin in 1997 and 1998. At one point, he was even considered to be Nemtsov’s chosen successor.
However, after the Russian stock market crash of 1998, Nemtsov’s political career stalled. When Vladimir Putin became president, Nemtsov became a frequent critic of the Russian leader. In 2010, he helped to found what would later become Russia’s liberal democratic People’s Freedom Party.
At the time of his assassination, Nemtsov was working on a report proving that Russian troops were directly involved in the war in eastern Ukraine.
Hromadske traveled to the spot in Moscow where Nemtsov was killed to report on the memorial demonstration that took place there. Many activists are now even calling the bridge the “Boris Nemtsov Bridge.”
/By Matthew Kupfer