Putin Bashing Crowd in Overdrive Over Nemtsov Killing
by Stephen Lendman
Throughout his tenure, irresponsible Western officials and complicit media scoundrels bashed him relentlessly. Any excuse will do.
Stuff made up out of whole cloth is held against him. Whatever he does is wrong no matter how right.
His months of efforts to save Europe from the scourge of more war is treated like he intends to wage it.
The reason, of course, is his opposition to US imperial adventurism. Its plan to colonize planet earth, steal its resources, and enslave its people as serfs paid poverty or sub-poverty wages.
To let Western monied interests and war-makers control everything for their own benefit at the expense of all others.
To transform nations into exploitable assets. To crush all opposition to its agenda. To let bankers steal everyone's wealth.
To wage permanent wars because they're so profitable. To risk destroying planet earth to own it. To commit genocide all in a day's work.
Putin's vision is polar opposite. He wants peace, not war. He believes in nation-state sovereignty inviolability.
He says rule of law principles are meant to be obeyed - especially when world peace is at stake. Over 85% of Russians support him.
Why anyone besides rich elites profiting at the expense of others supports Obama they'll have to explain.
Nemtsov's killing aroused the bash Putin crowd - despite knowing he had nothing to with it.
Odds strongly indicate a CIA false flag - much like many others it instigated throughout its sordid history.
Jack Kennedy once said he wanted "to splinter (it) in a thousand pieces and scatter it to the winds" - reason enough to kill him.
For sure over wanting war in Vietnam ended. Obama can't wait to wage another one. His desire for imperial conquest is insatiable.
As this is written, smaller crowds mourning Nemtsov than Putin bashers hoped for turned out in Moscow and St. Petersburg - around 7,000 in each city growing incrementally throughout the afternoon.
Sputnik News estimated a Moscow 21,000 turnout. Nemtsov supporters hoped for 50,000 or more.
NBC News hyped "immense crowds." The New York Times ludicrously said after Nemtsov's killing, "(t)here are no longer any limits."
Ignoring no-holds-barred US domestic and global barbarism throughout its sordid history - especially post-WW II. Most of all post-9/11.
Nemtsov was a widely disliked self-serving opportunist. The Times ludicrously called him a "standard-bearer of Western liberalism."
FALSE FLAG IN MOSCOW!
Boris Nemtsov has been shot dead in Moscow. He was one of the most charismatic leaders of the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition in Russia (please understand that in the Russian context "liberal" and "democratic" means pro-US or even CIA-run, while "non-system" means too small to even get a single deputy in the Duma). He was shot just a few days before the announced demonstration of the very same "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition scheduled for March 1st.
Nemtsov with YushchenkoAs I have already explained many times on this blog, the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" opposition in Russia has a popular support somewhere in the range of 5% (max). In other words, it is politically *dead* (for a detailed explanation, please read "From Napoleon to Adolf Hitler to Conchita Wurst"). In the hopes of getting a higher number of people to the streets the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system"opposition allied itself with the ultra-nationalists (usually useful idiots for the CIA) and the homosexual activists (also useful idiots for the CIA). Apparently, this was not enough.
And now, in *perfect* timing, Nemtsov is murdered.
We all know the reaction of the AngloZionists and their propaganda machine. It will be exactly the same as for MH-17: Putin the Murderer!!! Democracy Shot!! Freedom Killed!! etc. etc. etc. etc.
There is no doubt in my mind at all that either this is a fantastically unlikely but always possible case of really bad luck for Putin and Nemtsov was shot by some nutcase or mugged, or this was a absolutely prototypical western false flag: you take a spent politician who has no credibility left with anyone with an IQ over 70, and you turn him into an instant "martyr for freedom, democracy, human right and civilization".
By the way if, as I believe, this is a false flag, I expect it to be a stunning success in the West and a total flop in Russia: by now, Russians already can smell that kind of setup a mile away and after MH-17 everybody was expecting a false flag. So, if anything, it will only increase the hostility of Russians towards the West and rally them around Putin. In the Empire, however, this will be huge, better than Politkovskaya or Litvinenko combined. A "Nemtsov" prize will be created, a Nemtov statue will be place somewhere (in Warsaw?), the US Congress will pass a "Nemtsov law" and the usual combo package of "democratic hagiography" will be whipped-up.
What worries me most is that the Russian security services did not see this one coming and let it happen. This is a major failure for the FSB which will now have a lot at stake to find out who did it. I expect them to find a fall-guy, a patsy, who will have no provable contacts with any western services and who, ideally, might even have some contacts with the Russian services (like Andrei Lugovoi).
As for the "liberal" or "democratic" "non-system" - it will probably re-brand the upcoming protests as a "tribute to Nemtsov" thereby getting more people into the streets.
There are folks in Langley tonight who got a promotion.
Putin Predicted Washington Would Employ Assassination Tactic Against Russia
By Paul Craig Roberts
The Saker provides a one-minute video with translation of Putin explaining two years ago the Russian government's concern that an overseas entity would use a false flag assassination within Russia in order to create an "involuntary martyr" that the Western media would use to demonize Russia.
According to this report by The Saker, the Washington-financed Russian opposition has not, as Washington hoped it would, joined the Western anti-Putin media campaign. Possibly the Washington-financed Russian NGOs have wised up from observing events in Ukraine. In place of "more democracy," they got a Washington stooge government squandering Ukraine's last cent on a losing war.
The most likely explanation of Boris Nemtsov's murder is that the CIA decided, as Nemtsov was completely marginalized as an opposition politician with 5% as against Putin's 85%, that Nemtsov was worth more dead than alive. But the ploy, if that is what it is, has not worked inside Russia.
Part of the circumstantial evidence that Nemtsov's murder was a CIA tactic to destabilize Russia is the orchestrated US media. The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, NPR, and the rest of the presstitutes were ready on cue with reports insinuating that Putin was responsible. Stephen Lendman has done a good job tracking the US media's unquestioning adherence to Washington's propaganda line.
On February 28, NPR's report consisted of a sound bite from a dissident Russian in exile who implied that Nemtsov was actually a rival to Putin with the population split between the two and that Putin eliminated his rival. No counterview to this abject nonsense was offered. At one time NPR was an alternative voice. Today NPR belongs to the Republican Party and the corporations whose advertising revenues are larger than listener donations.
If the Russian investigation discovers CIA involvement, the Russian government will keep it quiet. The audacity of Washington murdering a washed-up Russian politician in order to blame the Russian government bespeaks of war. Putin, unlike Washington, does not want war. If the culprit(s) is not found, it will look like a coverup. So someone has to be blamed. The Russian police have already suggested that possibly the key to the murder is the attractive young woman with Nemtsov when he was shot down. Nemtsov might have been trespassing on the property of a dangerous man, possibly a member of the Russian mafia.
Like everything else that happens, Americans will be given by the presstitutes an explanation that coincides with the interests of Washington. All who rely on the US media will never know why Nemtsov was murdered, or anything else for that matter.
Putin bashing followed. The Times irresponsibly accused
It quoted a Putin critic saying "(t)he fact that they (meaning Russia's government) killed him is a message to frighten everyone…"
"This is what happens to people who go against the government of our country."
Despite knowing Putin had nothing to do with Nemtsov's killing, The Times published this rubbish - willful Big Lies intended to deceive.
The neocon controlled Washington Post headlined "Russian opposition leaders allege Kremlin links to Nemtsov slaying."
On the one hand, WoPo flat-out lied. It knows nothing suggests Putin's involvement. On the other, it hyped a nonexistent threat for political advantage not achieved. More on this below.
At the time of his death, Nemtsov was a political nobody. Polls showed his RPR-PARNAS party had less than 5% support. His personal popularity was around 1%.
You'd never know it based WaPo hyperbole calling him "a towering figure of post-Soviet politics."
Perhaps he was a legend in his own mind - in very few others in Russia wanting nothing to do with him.
WaPo practically blamed Putin for his death. It called his killing "by far the highest-profile assassination during" his tenure.
Despite no evidence suggesting it, WaPo claimed opposition elements "reasoned that, at minimum, the security services that blanket Red Square must have had advance warning of Nemtsov's fate."
Putin had every reason not wanting him or other opposition figures killed. Political smearing alone would follow.
Plenty of unjustifiable criticism - much like what's happening now. Besides nothing suggesting Putin believes it's OK to order someone killed.
No evidence suggests he maintains a kill list like Obama - deciding who lives or dies. Ordering people killed by presidential diktat. Acting extrajudicially as judge, jury and executioner.
Heading a regime more abusive of fundamental civil and human rights than any government in history. Making state terror official US policy.
WaPo irresponsibly quoted Nemtsov ally Vladimir Milov absurdly calling his killing "connected to the authorities."
Another opposition figure was quoted claiming an "aggressive atmosphere created by the Kremlin…could lead to murder" - without citing a shred of corroborating evidence.
None exists. Don't expect WaPo to explain.
Wall Street Journal neocons hyped Nemtsov's "political assassination" as "the new reality of Putin's Russia."
Again no corroborating evidence, Just baseless accusations and hype about "Russia's now-dimmed an tarnished hopes for democracy and reform…"
During his 2012 presidential campaign, Putin warned about dark forces "abroad…looking for a sacrificial victim from among prominent people."
"They would rub him out and then blame it on the authorities. I know about this. I'm not exaggerating," he said.
What happened was exactly as he envisioned. Perhaps to be followed by similar CIA-staged false flags irresponsibly blamed on him.
The good news is Washington's best laid plans fell flat. The Saker reported no opposition elements blaming Putin for what happened.
Many indicated a provocation - the term Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov used meaning a false flag intended to blame Kremlin authorities unjustly.
The area around the seat of government is heavily surveilled for security reasons. The Saker expects an arrest in a week at most, likely sooner.
If evidence shows US involvement, he believes it won't be made public. Instead it will be used quietly behind the scenes, he said.
Expect little or no effect on Putin's popularity. It won't stop lunatics in Washington and media scoundrels from bashing him relentlessly.
By this time next week or sooner, they'll find other reasons to vilify him unjustly. It doesn't matter what he does or doesn't do.
A Final Comment
March 1 marks the one-year anniversary of Donbass anti-fascist resistance. Freedom fighters risked all for fundamental democratic rights everyone deserves.
What began as a protest against Kiev's ban on Russian language use developed into full-blown rebellion against fascist rule - notably in Donetsk and Lugansk.
Activists from Russia, other parts of Ukraine and elsewhere joined rebels against the scourge of fascism they deplore - perhaps inspired by the Lincoln and other Spanish Civil War brigades.
Freedom-fighting rebels want Novorossiya freed from fascist tyranny. They overcame enormous odds so far.
Their liberating struggle continues. It has miles to go. Washington deplores democracy. Expect all-out US efforts to crush it in Donbass.
Maybe by US-led NATO war - turning Novorossiya into a killing field like Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria.
Maybe initiated by a US-instigated Ukraine 9/11 followed by shock-and-awe bombing.
Fascists running America want hardline rule established everywhere. No matter how many millions of corpses it takes to accomplish their objective.
No matter how much human misery follows. No matter if nuclear war risks mass annihilation.
Lunatics in Washington may end life on earth to own it. No greater threat in history matches what humanity faces today. No greater urgency than ending it before it ends us.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at email@example.com
His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."
Visit his blog site
Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.
It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.
...and here is what the US government wants you to think...
CLAPPER CALLS FOR ARMING UKRAINIAN FORCES:
WHO WOULD THAT ACTUALLY EMPOWER?
BY GLENN GREENWALD
It’s easy to forget that just two years ago, President Obama was determined to bomb Syria and remove the Assad regime, and U.S. establishment institutions were working to lay the groundwork for that campaign. NPR began dutifully publishing reports from anonymous U.S. officials that Syria had stockpiled large amounts of chemical weapons; the NYT was reporting that Obama was “increasing aid to the rebels and redoubling efforts to rally a coalition of like-minded countries to forcibly bring down” Assad; Secretary of State John Kerry pronounced that forced removal of Assad was “a matter of national security” and “a matter of the credibility of the United States of America.”
Those opposed to the anti-Assad “regime change” bombing campaign argued that while some of the rebellion was composed of ordinary Syrians, the “rebels” the U.S. would arm and empower (i.e., the only effective anti-Assad fighters) were actually violent extremists and even terrorists aligned with Al Qaeda and worse. The people arguing that were invariably smeared as Assad apologists because this happened to be the same argument Assad was making: that the most effective fighters against him were jihadis and terrorists.
But that argument in D.C. was quickly converted from taboo into conventional wisdom the moment it was needed to justify U.S. involvement in Syria. The U.S. is now bombing Syria, of course, but rather than fighting against Assad, the Syrian dictator is (once again) America’s ally and partner. The rationale for the U.S. bombing campaign is the same one Assad long invoked: that those fighting against him are worse than he is because they are aligned with Al Qeada and ISIS (even though the U.S. funded and armed those factions for years and their closest allies in the region continue to do so).
A similar dynamic is at play in Russia and Ukraine. Yesterday, Obama’s top national security official, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, told a Senate Committee “that he supports arming Ukrainian forces against Russian-backed separatists,” as the Washington Post put it. The U.S. has already provided “non-lethal” aid to Ukrainian forces, and Obama has said he is now considering arming them. Who, exactly, would that empower?
Russian President Vladimir Putin has long said that the Ukrainian coup of last year, and the subsequent regime in Kiev, is driven by ultra-nationalists, fascists, and even neo-Nazi factions. The Russian TV outlet RT also frequently refers to “the active role far-right groups have played on the pro-government side in Ukraine since the violent coup of the last year.”
For that reason, anyone pointing out that arming the regime in Kiev would strengthen fascists and neo-Nazis is instantly accused of being a Putin propagandist: exactly like those arguing that the best anti-Assad fighters were al-Qaeda-affiliated were accused of being Assad propagandists (until that became the official position of the US Government). U.S. media accounts invariably depict the conflict in Ukraine as a noble struggle waged by the freedom-loving, pro-west democrats in Kiev against the oppressive, aggressive “Russian-backed” separatists in the east.
But just as was true in Syria: while some involved in the Ukrainian coup were ordinary Ukrainians fighting against a corrupt and oppressive regime, these claims about the fascist thugs leading the fight for the Kiev government are actually true. Writing in Foreign Policy from eastern Ukraine last August, Alec Luhn observed:
Pro-Russian forces have said they are fighting against Ukrainian nationalists and “fascists” in the conflict, and in the case of Azov and other battalions, these claims are essentially true. . . . The Azov Battalion, whose emblem also includes the “Black Sun” occult symbol used by the Nazi SS, was founded by Andriy Biletsky, head of the neo-Nazi groups Social-National Assembly and Patriots of Ukraine.
In September, Shaun Walker wrote in the Guardian about his experience embedding with the pro-Kiev forces of the Azov, which he called “Ukraine’s most potent and reliable force on the battlefield against the separatists.” While dismissing as “overblown” Russian warnings that these groups seek to ethnically cleanse all of Ukraine, Walked described “the far right, even neo-Nazi, leanings of many of its members,” and noted that “Amnesty International called on the Ukrainian government to investigate rights abuses and possible executions by the Aidar, another battalion.” Walker’s principal concern was that these fascist militias intend, once the separatists are vanquished, to seek control of Kiev and impose their ultra-nationalist vision on the entire country.
Ever since the coup in Kiev was carried out, these unpleasant facts about the pro-government forces have been largely ignored in most establishment U.S. media accounts, leaving a handful of commentators to point them out. In January of last year, as the coup was unfolding, the Guardian‘s Seumas Milne argued that the west’s morality narrative about Ukraine – democracy-fighters v. Putin oppressors – “bears only the sketchiest relationship to reality” and that, instead, “far-right nationalists and fascists have been at the heart of the protests and attacks on government buildings.” Britain’s Channel 4 reported on the central role played by far-right ultra-nationalists in that coup, noting that Sen. John McCain traveled to the Ukrainian capital (pictured, above) and shared a stage with the worst fascist elements. Antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo has long been warning of “the ascension of a genuinely fascist mass movement into the corridors of power” in Kiev, noting that far from being a handful of fringe elements, “the activists of the two main fascist parties in Ukraine – Svoboda and ‘Right Sector’ – provided the muscle the insurrectionists needed to take over government buildings in Kiev and across western Ukraine.”
These facts have now become so glaring that even the most mainstream organizations in the west are now being compelled to point them out. Last week, Vox published an article by Amanda Taub about the “approximately 30 of these private armies fighting on the Ukrainian side,” whose “fighters are accused of serious human rights violations, including kidnappings, torture, and extrajudicial executions.” While claiming the militias operate largely separately from the central Kiev government, Taub nonetheless notes how central they have become to the fight against the separatists, and also acknowledges their clear use by Kiev officials:
The militias have also gained more power because the Ukrainian government, led by new President Petro Poroshenko, brought them friends in high places. For instance, Arsen Avakov, Poroshenko’s Minister of Internal Affairs, was previously the leader of former Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko’s political bloc in eastern Ukraine. He has a longstanding alliance with members of the Azov Battalion, a far-right organization whose members have a history of promoting anti-Semitism and neo-Nazi views. Avakov has has used his position to support the group, going so far as to appoint Vadim Troyan, an Azov deputy leader, as the chief of police for the whole Kiev region. And Azov’s leader, Andriy Biletsky, is now a member of parliament as well.
The Intercept yesterday published reporting from Marcin Mamon on the role jihadists are playing in the conflict on behalf of the government.
U.S. media propaganda has not only sought to glorify the Kiev regime by suppressing all of these elements but also has actively demonized the separatists as little more than Putin-controlled pawns. In fact, as BuzzFeed’s Max Seddon describes in an excellent article from a separatist stronghold in eastern Ukraine, those fighting against Kiev have a range of significant grievances against the Ukrainian government quite independent of any Putin agenda, including violence against civilians and long-standing contempt for residents of the east:
In the very areas Ukraine is fighting to regain, near-constant artillery bombardment and a crippling economic blockade have hardened attitudes to the point of no return. Almost every day, shelling claims the lives of civilians: someone’s mother, husband, child. And every day, reconciliation between millions of Ukrainian citizens here and the Ukrainian government seems even further off. Whatever else is true, this is yet another case of the U.S.
After Boris Nemtsov’s Assassination, ‘There Are No Longer Any Limits
’By JULIA IOFFEFEB. 28, 2015
On Friday evening, Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader and former first deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, went on a prominent Moscow radio station to exhort his fellow citizens to come out to protest President Vladimir Putin’s policies. There would be a rally on Sunday, a spring march, to demonstrate against the deepening economic crisis and Russia’s involvement in Ukraine. The most prominent Russian opposition leader, Aleksei Navalny, had been put in jail for 15 days, which just happened to be long enough to keep him from attending the rally. Nemtsov, who was older and, by now, less influential, had handed out leaflets in the metro and encouraged people to come anyway.
After the radio show, on which Nemtsov warned that too much power in the hands of one man would “end in catastrophe,” he met Anna Duritskaya, his girlfriend of three years — and, as the police would later pointedly note, a citizen of Ukraine. They had dinner and then headed home, strolling across Red Square and past the swirling domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral, adjacent to the Kremlin. Just before midnight, as they crossed the bridge toward the historic Moscow neighborhood where Nemtsov lived, a white car pulled up, and, according to investigators, someone inside fired seven or eight shots. Four of them hit Nemtsov in the head, heart, liver and stomach, killing him on the spot.
Duritskaya was unharmed and immediately taken in for questioning. Nemtsov, a big, broad man, was left on the pavement in the rain, his shirt yanked up to his chin.
On Russian social media, liberal Moscow has struggled to wrap its head around something that seemed like it simply couldn’t happen, until it did. It had been years since Nemtsov, a rising star in Yeltsin-era politics, had been the standard-bearer of Western liberalism, and he could be a silly bon vivant. But he was deeply intelligent, witty, kind and ubiquitous. He seemed to genuinely be everyone’s friend; when I lived in Moscow as a journalist, he was always willing to jaw over endless glasses of cognac. And he was a powerful, vigorous critic of Vladimir Putin, assailing him in every possible medium, constantly publishing reports on topics like the president’s lavish lifestyle and the corruption behind the Sochi Olympics.
How could such a prominent politician — a founder of the opposition Solidarity Party, a sitting member of the Yaroslavl city parliament — be gunned down so brazenly, within steps of the Kremlin? “We didn’t kill members of government,” Gleb Pavlovsky, an independent political consultant who used to work for Putin, told me over the phone. “It’s an absolutely new situation.” Olga Romanova, a prominent opposition activist and a close friend of Nemtsov, said, “There are more cameras in that spot than there are grains in a packet of grain.” When I called her last night, she had just come from the scene of the crime, where her friend still lay on the ground, surrounded by laughing policemen. “It’s the first time I’ve seen a very close person murdered, lying on the pavement,” she said. “It’s terrifying.”
Putin promptly called Nemtsov’s mother to offer his condolences and threw what seemed like the entire Ministry of Internal Affairs on the case. Yet we can be sure that the investigation will lead precisely nowhere. At most, some sad sap, the supposed trigger-puller, will be hauled in front of a judge, the scapegoat for someone far more powerful. More likely, the case will founder for years amid promises that everyone is working hard, and no one will be brought to justice at all. This has been the pattern for other high-profile killings, like those of the journalist Anna Politkovskaya and the whistle-blower Sergei Magnitsky.
Already, the Kremlin is muddying the waters. Immediately after the shooting, Putin’s press secretary called the killing “a provocation.” This morning, he clarified that there was no political motive behind the murder. LifeNews, a publication with close ties to Russia’s security agencies, has suggested three possible theories that are under investigation: The killing might have been revenge for forcing Duritskaya to get an abortion; it might have had something to do with money Nemtsov was receiving from allies abroad; or it might have been an attempt to smear the Kremlin. By afternoon, the government’s Investigative Committee had issued a statement saying it believed Nemtsov may have been killed by someone from his own opposition movement who wanted to create a martyr. There was even a suggestion that the assassination was connected to the Charlie Hebdo killings.
Even if one of these theories were true, none of Moscow’s embattled liberals would be convinced. “I will never believe it,” Yevgenia Albats, editor of the liberal magazine New Times and an old friend of Nemtsov, told me. “This is not about some domestic affair. These were absolute professionals.” Ilya Yashin, a member of Nemtsov’s Solidarity Party, was of the same mind. “It’s totally obvious for me that it’s a political killing,” he said. “I don’t have the slightest doubt about that.” Maxim Katz, another opposition activist, claimed on Twitter that, any way you slice it, Putin is responsible: “If he ordered it, then he’s guilty as the orderer. And even if he didn’t, then [he is responsible] as the inciter of hatred, hysteria, and anger among the people.”
It’s hard to argue with this last point. Putin’s aggressive foreign policy, his increasingly conservative domestic policy, his labeling the opposition a “fifth column” and “national traitors,” his state television whipping up a militant, nationalistic fervor — all of this creates a certain atmosphere. Putin, after all, has a history of playing with fire, only to have the flames get away from him. After years of the Kremlin tacitly supporting ultranationalist, neo-Nazi groups, the same skinheads staged a violent protest at the foot of the Kremlin walls in 2010 while riot police officers stood by and watched helplessly. Today, a rabid nationalism has swallowed up most of the country, and it is no longer clear that Putin can control it. “In this kind of atmosphere, everything is possible,” Pavlovsky told me. “This is a Weimar atmosphere. There are no longer any limits.”
Until relatively recently, the risks opposition activists knew they were taking on were not generally thought to be life-threatening. The government was likely to hassle activists and make their lives uncomfortable, but mostly it just marginalized them, like the town fool. This began to change with the arrests of protesters in the summer of 2012. When Navalny was sentenced to five years in prison a year later, it came as a shock; this had never been done before. Even after the sentence was suspended, it seemed to be a warning to the opposition.
Nemtsov’s assassination took that warning to its logical conclusion. Now, “we live in a different political reality,” tweeted Leonid Volkov, a prominent opposition activist. “The fact that they killed him is a message to frighten everyone, the brave and the not brave,” Yashin said. “That this is what happens to people who go against the government of our country.” Anatoly Chubais — who, like Nemtsov, served in the Yeltsin government, and who remains close to Putin — visited the site of the shooting this morning. “If, just a few days ago, people in our city are carrying signs that say ‘Let’s finish off the fifth column,’ and today they kill Nemtsov,” he said in a statement, referring to the Kremlin-sponsored anti-Maidan protest in Moscow last weekend, “what will happen tomorrow?” Or, as Albats put it, “Hunting season is open.”
Nemtsov had been confiding to friends of late that he was growing frightened. This summer, he went to Israel to hide out for a few months, fearing arrest. He told Albats that he worried he wouldn’t be able to withstand a stint in a Russian penal colony. In the fall, he filed a police report because of threats he was receiving on social media. It didn’t seem to go anywhere. Recently, he even let his bravado slip in public, telling an interviewer two weeks ago that he was scared Putin would kill him.
And yet, he didn’t let up. According to Albats and Yashin, Nemtsov was working on a particularly incendiary report that he planned to call “Putin and Ukraine,” which would trace the stream of weaponry flowing from Russia to separatists in the Donbass. He was meeting with the families of Russian men who had died fighting with the separatists. He kept up his withering attacks on Facebook and Twitter. He kept traveling to Ukraine and meeting with president Petro Poroshenko, something that couldn’t have gone unnoticed by the Kremlin’s security agencies. And still, Nemtsov
Fear Envelops Russia After Killing of Putin Critic Boris Nemtsov
By ANDREW E. KRAMER
MOSCOW — About two weeks before he was shot and killed in the highest-profile political assassination in Russia in a decade, Boris Y. Nemtsov met with an old friend to discuss his latest research into what he said was dissembling and misdeeds in the Kremlin.
He was, as always, pugilistic and excited, saying he wanted to publish the research in a pamphlet to be called “Putin and the War,” about President Vladimir V. Putin and Russian involvement in the Ukraine conflict, recalled Yevgenia Albats, the editor of New Times magazine. Both knew the stakes.
Mr. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, knew his work was dangerous but tried to convince her that, as a former high official in the Kremlin, he enjoyed immunity, Ms. Albats said.
“He was afraid of being killed,” Ms. Albats said. “And he was trying to convince himself, and me, they wouldn’t touch him because he was a member of the Russian government, a vice premier, and they wouldn’t want to create a precedent. Because as he said, one time the power will change hands in Russia again, and those who served Putin wouldn’t want to create this precedent.”
On Saturday, it was still not clear who was responsible for killing Mr. Nemtsov. Some critics of the Kremlin accused the security services of responsibility, while others floated the idea of rogue Russian nationalists on the loose in Moscow.
The authorities said they were investigating several theories about the crime, some immediately scorned as improbable, including the possibility that fellow members of the opposition had killed Mr. Nemtsov to create a martyr. Mr. Putin, for his part, vowed in a letter to Mr. Nemtsov’s mother to bring to justice those responsible.
As supporters of Mr. Nemtsov laid flowers on the sidewalk where he was shot and killed late Friday, a shiver of fear moved through the political opposition in Moscow.
The worry was that the killing would become a pivot point toward a revival of lethal violence among the leadership elite in Moscow and an intensified climate of fear in Russian domestic politics.
“Another terrible page has been turned in our history,” Mikhail B. Khodorkovsky, the exiled former political prisoner, wrote in a statement about the killing.
“For more than a year now, the television screens have been flooded with pure hate for us,” he wrote of the opposition to Mr. Putin. “And now everyone from the blogger at his apartment desk to President Putin, himself, is searching for enemies, accusing one another of provocation. What is wrong with us?”
Vladimir Milov, a former deputy minister of energy, and co-author with Mr. Nemtsov of pamphlets alleging corruption in Mr. Putin’s government, said he was concerned that the state could now target former officials like Mr. Nemtsov — or like him — deemed disloyal.
This comes as analysts of Russian politics say the Kremlin could be worried about, and intent on discouraging, further defections to the opposition, given reported high-level schisms between hard-liners and liberals over military and economic policy. The government is already under strain from Russia’s unacknowledged involvement in the war in Ukraine and runaway inflation in an economic crisis.
Mr. Milov posted an online statement saying, “There is ever less doubt that the state is behind the murder of Boris Nemtsov,” and that the intention was to revive a culture of fear in Moscow. “The motive was to sow fear,” he wrote.
Irina Khakamada, a former member of Parliament, suggested in an interview with Snob magazine that splinter groups in the security service intent on retaining Soviet practices, or “radical frozen ones, who think anything is allowed,” could be to blame.
Russian authorities said on Saturday that one line of investigation would be to examine whether Mr. Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former first deputy prime minister and longtime leader of the opposition, had become a “sacrificial victim” to rally support for opponents of the government, the Investigative Committee of the Prosecutor General’s Office said in a statement.
The statement, the fullest official response so far to Mr. Nemtsov’s killing, said the police were pursuing half a dozen leads in the case, the highest-profile assassination in Russia during the tenure of Mr. Putin.
The committee also cited the possibility that Islamic extremists had killed Mr. Nemtsov over his position on the Charlie Hebdo shootings in Paris, saying that security forces had been aware of threats against him from Islamist militants. The committee also said that “radical personalities” on one or another side of the Ukrainian conflict might have been responsible. The statement said the police were also considering possible business or personal disputes as motives.
“The investigation is considering several versions,” the statements said. The first it listed was: “a murder as a provocation to destabilize the political situation in the country, where the figure of Nemtsov could have become a sort of sacrificial victim for those who stop at nothing to achieve their political goals.”
This explanation echoed and elaborated on a statement posted overnight on the Kremlin website, which also characterized the murder as a “provocation.”
“The president noted that this cruel murder has all the signs of a contract killing and carries an exclusively provocative character,” the Kremlin statement said. “Vladimir Putin expressed his deep condolences to the relatives and loved ones of Boris Nemtsov, who died tragically.”
Mr. Putin, in a message to Mr. Nemtsov’s mother released by the Kremlin, said, “Everything will be done so that the organizers and perpetrators of a vile and cynical murder get the punishment they deserve.”
Initially, Russian news media reported Mr. Nemtsov had been shot from a passing car. On Saturday, however, a television channel, TVTs, broadcast a surveillance video purporting to show the murder, though from a distance. Mr. Nemtsov had left a restaurant in the GUM shopping center on Red Square and was walking with his girlfriend, Anna Duritskaya, a Ukrainian model.
A snowplow blocked the scene. But the video, which has not been independently verified, appears to show the shooter was hiding on a stairway on Moskvoretsky Bridge waiting for Mr. Nemtsov and Ms. Duritskaya to pass. Later, the figure of the supposed shooter runs to a getaway car that pulls up on the bridge.
After laying flowers on a floral mound already chest high and kneeling in respect before the blooms festooning the sidewalk on a rainy, glum midafternoon, Anatoly Chubais, a co-founder with Mr. Nemtsov of the Union of Right Forces political party, scorned the investigators’ claim.
“Today, we had a statement that the liberal opposition organized the killing,” he said. “Before this, they wrote that the liberals created the economic crisis. In this country, we have created demand for anger and hate.”
Ilya Yashin, a political ally of Mr. Nemtsov’s, drew attention again to the pamphlet Mr. Nemtsov was preparing on Russian military aid to pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine. Speaking on the Echo of Moscow radio station, he said Mr. Nemtsov had “some materials that directly proved” the participation of the Russian army in the Donbas war in Ukraine.
Mr. Yashin said he knew no details, or what had become of those materials.
Ms. Albats, who had discussed with Mr. Nemtsov his unfinished exposé, said of this state of affairs in domestic Russian politics, “We are at war now.”
“Those who are believers in democracy, those who for some reason, back in the late 1980s, got on board this train, and had all these hopes and aspirations,” she said, “they are at war today.”
government – followed as always by its media – fabricating a Manichean morality narrative to justify U.S. involvement and militarism. Just as the U.S. spent years funding and arming the precise extremist elements it claims it wants to combat – in Libya, in Syria, and long before that in
never hired a bodyguard. He walked home through Moscow late at night unprotected.
And he almost made it. His apartment building was visible from the bridge. “From his window, where he worked out in the mornings, you can see the place where he was killed,” Romanova told me. “For many years, he saw the place where they would kill him.”
Julia Ioffe is a contributing writer for the magazine.
One can debate whether empowering such thugs is a feature or a bug: it’s hardly rare for the U.S. knowingly to arm and prop up fascists and other assorted tyrants which it believes will promote its interests (see this morning’s David Ignatius column arguing that Egyptian dictator Gen. Abdel Fata Sisi is as bad as Mubarak when it comes human rights abuses, but the U.S. must continue steadfastly to support him so that he preserves “stability”). But at least when the U.S. is in bed with regimes such as the Saudis or Egyptians, most people understand the kind of allies it has embraced. In the case of Ukraine, those facts have been almost entirely excluded from mainstream discourse. Now that Obama’s leading national security official is expressly calling for the arming of those forces, it is vital that the true nature of America’s allies in this conflict be understood.
Ukraine’s 10-month attempt to reclaim its easternmost provinces has only made locals there hate the central government even more. BuzzFeed News’ Max Seddon reports from the self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic.
by Max Seddon