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Reflections on the Murder of Boris Nemtsov


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The crime is horrific. But there is something a little too convenient for Washington in all of this. 

Politically, Mr Nemtsov was a spent force – he had a real following in the 1990s, where he was briefly a major player. Unlike Navalny, who is opportunistic, smart and frankly dangerous, Nemtsov’s following was largely limited to foreign journalists and a small group of Russian liberals.

<figcaption>Boris Nemtsov</figcaption>
Boris Nemtsov

Had the Kremlin wanted him out of the way there were other ways – especially in Moscow. A car crash. An (induced) heart attack. Poisons. Why do a public hit within sight of St. Basel’s Cathedral on Red Square so as to provide a public feast for the foreign press picture editors?

The timing is equally suspicious. Perfectly timed to draw maximum attention to the upcoming opposition March which had risked falling flat. The March itself is no conceivable threat to Mr Putin – who now enjoys the sort of popularity common to wartime leaders in any country – but it is the best shot the West has, knowing that any political murder in Moscow will be systematically attributed to the Kremlin by the tame Western press – whether of a Putin opponent (Politkovskaya) or a fervent supporter (Paul Klebnikov, Forbes). By some odd coincidence, several of these killings took place immediately before President Putin was to address some particularly high-profile international meeting.

The fact that this horrific murder is most beneficial to the anti-Russian factions does not, of course, prove that Washington was in any way involved. It suggests it - which is a very different matter…

There is another – less conspiratorial – theory. The Kiev regime – openly supported by Mr Nemtsov and his followers - is genuinely very unpopular in Russia. Live television coverage of the savage bombardment of Lugansk and Donetsk has evoked some strong passions. There is a hardline, nationalist faction, and Russia can be a violent place. It is entirely possible that someone decided to take revenge for the people of Novorossiya, answering one barbaric crime with another.

There is only one certainty: this murder will be exploited by the Western press which will largely not even bother to formally attribute it to the Kremlin – but simply do a quick montage – Red Square, Putin opponent lying dead. It’s an easy sell.

We can only hope that the murders will be found and punished – and that political violence – in Moscow as in Lugansk - will be universally condemned.

RIP

 


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