Rus­sian march hon­ours slain op­po­si­tion leader Nemtsov

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - HOWARD AMOS

MOSCOW — Thou­sands of Rus­sians marched through Moscow on Sun­day shout­ing slo­gans such as “Rus­sia will be free!” and “Putin is war!” to mark two years since op­po­si­tion leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down out­side the Krem­lin.

Nemtsov, a for­mer deputy prime min­is­ter, was a fierce critic of Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin. His Feb. 27, 2015, death, in what ap­peared to be a con­tract killing, sparked an out­pour­ing of anger and fear in Rus­sia’s be­lea­guered op­po­si­tion move­ment.

The me­mo­rial protest was the largest op­po­si­tion gath­er­ing since a sim­i­lar march for Nemtsov in 2016. Or­ga­niz­ers put the num­ber of par­tic­i­pants at just over 15,000. The po­lice, known for un­der­es­ti­mat­ing at­ten­dance at po­lit­i­cal ral­lies, said about 5,000 peo­ple showed up.

“It’s very im­por­tant that af­ter two years peo­ple con­tinue to come out and show their sol­i­dar­ity with the ideas for which Boris Nemtsov fought for and gave his life,” op­po­si­tion ac­tivist Ilya Yashin, who was Nemtsov’s friend and col­league, told the In­ter­fax news agency.

Demon­stra­tors car­ried Rus­sian flags, ban­ners of op­po­si­tion po­lit­i­cal par­ties and plac­ards with quotes from Nemtsov, in­clud­ing “If there’s Putin, there’s no Rus­sia,” and “Our only chance left is the street.” Some car­ried card­board Rus­sian flags with bul­let holes in them.

“For us, Nemtsov rep­re­sents free-think­ing Rus­sia and the demo­cratic val­ues for which we strive: free elec­tions and no cor­rup­tion,” pro­tester Yeka­te­rina Get­garts said.

Five men went on trial for Nemtsov’s mur­der in a Moscow mil­i­tary court last year, but no ver­dicts have been re­turned in the on­go­ing case. In­ves­ti­ga­tors al­lege that the man who shot Nemtsov was Zaur Da­dayev, a for­mer of­fi­cer in an elite Chechen po­lice unit.

But Nemtsov’s fam­ily and friends say it was a po­lit­i­cal hit with a trail that leads to se­nior of­fi­cials in the North Cau­ca­sus re­pub­lic of Chech­nya who have not been charged or even ques­tioned.

The Moscow rally largely passed without in­ci­dent, but an un­known as­sailant threw green dye in the face of op­po­si­tion leader Mikhail Kasyanov. Po­lice made sev­eral ar­rests.

Sun­day’s rally was smaller than last year’s, when about 25,000 marched.


Peo­ple lay flow­ers at a por­trait of Boris Nemtsov on Sun­day in Moscow at the place where the Rus­sian op­po­si­tion leader was gunned down two years ago.

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