Thousands march in memory of Nemtsov

Thousands of Russians opposed to President Vladimir Putin marched in Moscow today to honor the memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin in Friday.

Holding placards reading "I am not afraid," the protestors marched along the Moskva River determined to show Putin that their movement would not be intimidated by murder.

Reuters:

"It is a blow to Russia. If political views are punished this way, then this country simply has no future," Sergei Mitrokhin, an opposition leader, said of Nemtsov's murder.

Some Muscovites, accepting a line repeated by state media, appear to agree that the opposition, struggling to make an impact after a clampdown on dissent in Putin's third spell as president, might have killed one of their own.

"The authorities definitely do not benefit from this. Everybody had long forgotten about this man, Nemtsov ... It is definitely a 'provocation'," said one Moscow resident, who gave his name only as Denis.

Some young people walking in central Moscow asked: "Who is Nemtsov anyway?"

PUTIN REMAINS DOMINANT

Nemtsov, who was 55, was one of the leading lights of an opposition struggling to revive its fortunes, three years after mass rallies against Putin that failed to prevent him returning to the presidency after four years as prime minister.

The opposition has little support outside big cities and Putin has now been Russia's dominant leader since 2000, when ailing President Boris Yeltsin chose the former KGB spy as his successor, a role Nemtsov had once been destined to play.

Even many of Putin's opponents have little doubt that he will win another six years in power at the next election, due in 2018, despite a financial crisis aggravated by Western economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and a fall in oil prices.

Many opposition leaders have been jailed on what they say are trumped-up charges, or have fled the country. Their most prominent leader, Alexei Navalny, is serving a 15-day jail sentence for breaking a law that restricts demonstrations.

Nemtsov, a fighter against corruption who said he feared Putin may want him dead, had hoped to start the opposition's revival with a march in Marino on the outskirts of Moscow to protest against Putin's economic policies and what they see as Russia's involvement in the separatist war in east Ukraine.

Nemtsov claimed to have proof of the Russian army intervening in Ukraine, but most of the world knows this and refuses to acknowledge it. That might not be the reason for taking down Nemtsov. More to the point, Nemtsov also dug up evidence about the spectacular corruption associated with the Sochi Olympics, where up to $30 billion was embezzled by Putin and his cronies. If he was killed for his whistleblowing, the number of suspects in his murder expands dramatically.

There is a kind of fatalism common to the Russian people that is being expressed by the opposition. They don't really believe they can make a difference and drive Putin out of power, but march anyway because they feel the need to act. As long as Putin can control the media and the message, he will continue to dominate as he whips the Russian people into hysteria about Nazis in the Ukraine and the US undermining the Russian economy.

Thousands of Russians opposed to President Vladimir Putin marched in Moscow today to honor the memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov who was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin in Friday.

Holding placards reading "I am not afraid," the protestors marched along the Moskva River determined to show Putin that their movement would not be intimidated by murder.

Reuters:

"It is a blow to Russia. If political views are punished this way, then this country simply has no future," Sergei Mitrokhin, an opposition leader, said of Nemtsov's murder.

Some Muscovites, accepting a line repeated by state media, appear to agree that the opposition, struggling to make an impact after a clampdown on dissent in Putin's third spell as president, might have killed one of their own.

"The authorities definitely do not benefit from this. Everybody had long forgotten about this man, Nemtsov ... It is definitely a 'provocation'," said one Moscow resident, who gave his name only as Denis.

Some young people walking in central Moscow asked: "Who is Nemtsov anyway?"

PUTIN REMAINS DOMINANT

Nemtsov, who was 55, was one of the leading lights of an opposition struggling to revive its fortunes, three years after mass rallies against Putin that failed to prevent him returning to the presidency after four years as prime minister.

The opposition has little support outside big cities and Putin has now been Russia's dominant leader since 2000, when ailing President Boris Yeltsin chose the former KGB spy as his successor, a role Nemtsov had once been destined to play.

Even many of Putin's opponents have little doubt that he will win another six years in power at the next election, due in 2018, despite a financial crisis aggravated by Western economic sanctions over the Ukraine crisis and a fall in oil prices.

Many opposition leaders have been jailed on what they say are trumped-up charges, or have fled the country. Their most prominent leader, Alexei Navalny, is serving a 15-day jail sentence for breaking a law that restricts demonstrations.

Nemtsov, a fighter against corruption who said he feared Putin may want him dead, had hoped to start the opposition's revival with a march in Marino on the outskirts of Moscow to protest against Putin's economic policies and what they see as Russia's involvement in the separatist war in east Ukraine.

Nemtsov claimed to have proof of the Russian army intervening in Ukraine, but most of the world knows this and refuses to acknowledge it. That might not be the reason for taking down Nemtsov. More to the point, Nemtsov also dug up evidence about the spectacular corruption associated with the Sochi Olympics, where up to $30 billion was embezzled by Putin and his cronies. If he was killed for his whistleblowing, the number of suspects in his murder expands dramatically.

There is a kind of fatalism common to the Russian people that is being expressed by the opposition. They don't really believe they can make a difference and drive Putin out of power, but march anyway because they feel the need to act. As long as Putin can control the media and the message, he will continue to dominate as he whips the Russian people into hysteria about Nazis in the Ukraine and the US undermining the Russian economy.