Boris Nemtsov, born in 1959, Russian Deputy Prime Minister during the Yeltsin Presidency and a prominent opposition leader during the Putin years, was shot dead in the night of 27 February 2015 near the Kremlin by unidentified assailant(s).
Thousands of people took to the streets of Moscow and other Russian cities on 1 March to honour him and protest his assassination. President Putin sent his condolences to Nemtsov’s mother and promised a thorough investigation and the arrest of the culprits. Russian opposition voices accused Mr. Putin and the Russian government for complicity in the murder, at least indirectly, because of the climate of extreme nationalism and intolerance towards dissenting voices that they have been cultivating, through state controlled media and otherwise, including about the conflict in Ukraine.
One can only hope that Boris Nemtsov’s death, the protests, investigation and soul-searching that will follow it, will prove a turning point towards a more transparent, tolerant and democratic Russia. The country needs catharsis and a new start, in view of the major internal and external pressures that it finds itself under. Let’s see if President Putin can change course and steer such a positive transition, helping Russia realize its potential greatness and influence Europe and the world in a constructive and sustainable way.