Europe Muscovites mark yearsince opposition leader’s murder

Muscovites mark yearsince opposition leader’s murder

Flowers, votive candles and portraits of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov are placed at the place where he was gunned down one year ago, with the Kremlin Wall in the background, in Moscow, Russia, early Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The sign in center reads "1 year."
Flowers, votive candles and portraits of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov are placed at the place where he was gunned down one year ago, with the Kremlin Wall in the background, in Moscow, Russia, early Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. The sign in center reads “1 year.”

Several thousand people have begun a march in Moscow in memory of Russian opposition leader Boris to mark the first anniversary of his killing.

Nemtsov was shot to death late at night as he and a companion walked across a bridge overlooking the Kremlin. The brutality so close to the center of Russian power both frightened and angered supporters of the beleaguered opposition.

Nemtsov, who had been a prime minister during Boris Yeltsin’s presidency, was a charismatic figure and a vehement critic of President Vladimir Putin.

“He was the embodiment of freedom and courage, he was a model for me,” said marcher Kamala Igamberdiyeva, a 26-year-old accountant. “We still have a chance if the opposition shows wisdom and unites.”

In Putin’s decade-and-a-half in power, opposition groups have come under severe pressure, criticized by officials and state-controlled media as pawns of the West. Permission for rallies is frequently denied.

Many opposition supporters say that even if Putin had no direct hand in Nemtsov’s killing, he bears responsibility for encouraging a truculent authoritarianism.

“Nemtsov’s death was the result of the atmosphere of hatred in our country,” said 78-year-old demonstrator Pavel Movshovich.

Five suspects have been arrested in the killing, all of them Chechens. The suspected triggerman served as an officer in the security forces of the Moscow-backed Chechen leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

City authorities denied march organizers permission to hold a procession to the bridge, but gave permission for another route in central Moscow on Saturday.

On Saturday morning, U.S. Ambassador John Tefft laid a wreath at the bridge, saying he came to express hope that “some of the dreams that Boris Nemtsov had will come true in Russia.”

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