Putin: Nemtsov Murder  an Act of Provocation

Putin: Nemtsov Murder  an Act of ProvocationPutin: Nemtsov Murder  an Act of Provocation

Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov and said it was a “provocative act,” most likely an ordered killing, according to the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

“Putin emphasized that this brutal murder has all signs of being ordered and is of an exclusively provocative character,” Peskov said Saturday.

According to the spokesman, the Russian president ordered the government’s investigative committee, the Interior Ministry and the Federal Security Service to set up an investigative team, Sputnik said in a report.

The committee said the killing could be linked with events in Ukraine or have been carried out by extremist groups. Vladimir Markin, a spokesman for the committee, said Nemtsov had received threats in connection with his position on the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris last month.

Footage from the scene showed police experts examining the corpse of a man, dressed in jeans and lying on the tarmac, with the domes of St Basil’s in the background.

Putin also expressed his condolences to the relatives of Nemtsov, who was killed in Moscow at 11:40 p.m. local time on Friday, after four shots were fired in his back while he was reportedly walking with a female companion, according to the Interior Ministry.

  An Opposition Figure

Boris Nemtsov was 55 years old. He was born in Sochi. In 1985, he received his PhD in physics and mathemathics at the State University of Gorky. In 1991, Nemtsov was appointed the governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Region.

He also was a former deputy prime minister in the Russian government under President Boris Yeltsin. At one point he was considered a likely presidential candidate. Nemtsov co-chaired the RPR-PARNAS (Republican Party of Russia – People’s Freedom Party) since 2012 and was also one of the leaders of the liberal Solidarnost movement.

Since September 2013 and until his death, Nemtsov served as a member of the Yaroslavl Region’s parliament. Though he had been more involved in business than politics since 2003, he was a critic of the Russian government.

  Nemtsov No Threat

Peskov said Nemtsov did not pose a threat to the Russian government. The murder of the Russian opposition figure has been called a “provocation” by a number of politicians and public figures.

“With all due respect to the memory of Boris Nemtsov, in political terms he did not pose any threat to the current Russian leadership or Vladimir Putin. If we compare popularity levels, Putin’s and the government’s ratings and so on, in general Boris Nemtsov was just a little bit more than an average citizen,” Peskov said on Saturday.

Irina Khakamada, an opposition figure who was Nemtsov’s ally in the SPS party (Union of Right Forces), also called the murder a “provocation” aimed at destabilizing Russia.

“It is definitely not beneficial to Putin and it is aimed at destabilizing everything to tatters,” she said.

Human Rights Watch representative Tanya Cooper called for a “thorough” and “unbiased” investigation into Nemtsov’s murder, adding that police must consider all angles, including the victim’s political career.