Russian march honours slain opposition leader Nemtsov
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.