“I am not afraid,” “propaganda kills,” and “I am Boris Nemtsov” were just some of the banners that tens of thousands of people carried through the streets of downtown Moscow on Sunday to remember murdered opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was gunned down Friday night near the Kremlin. Many in the crowd also carried the Russian flag and a picture of Nemtsov as they marched toward the spot where he was killed, in what was the highest-profile political murder in more than a decade. “The mood was more one of quiet dismay rather than explosive anger,” notes the Guardian.
The memorial march took the place of the opposition rally that was originally scheduled for Sunday but was called off after Nemtsov’s murder. “Although the crowds were larger than recent opposition protests, few in attendance thought that it was the beginning of a new push against the Kremlin,” notes the Washington Post. “Instead, many said that the slaying was a frightening sign that those who disagree with Russia’s aggressive mainstream risk their lives for saying so publicly.”
Many in the crowd were angry that Putin’s recent policies have created a “fervently nationalist mood,” as the BBC puts it, that labels anyone who disagrees with the Kremlin as a traitor. “If we can stop the campaign of hate that’s being directed at the opposition, then we have a chance to change Russia. If not, then we face the prospect of mass civil conflict,” an opposition leader told Reuters. There is no official figure on turnout and estimates range from 16,000 to 70,000.
Nemtsov’s murder was reportedly caught by surveillance cameras, and the images appear to reinforce the idea that it was carried out by professional assassins. The Telegraph explains:
The grainy video, recorded from the other side of the Moskva River and broadcast by the Moscow city government television station, contradicts earlier reports that Nemtsov was killed by assailants shooting from a passing vehicle.
Instead, the assassin apparently hid in a stairwell leading off down from bridge. As Nemtsov passed, the killer emerged and began shooting at Nemtsov’s back, killing him with four pistol rounds. He then hurriedly climbed into an arriving getaway car, and was driven away.
“You would have needed to coordinate very closely between Nemtsov and the car … It is clear that it was a very sophisticated and professional killing,” said Andrey Soldatov, a Russian security expert. Up to 15 people working in three teams could have been involved, he said.