Boris Nemtsov Murdered: A Hit on Russia’s Opposition

Martin Niemöller:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

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Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov, outspoken Putin critic and leader of the People’s Freedom opposition party has been murdered in Moscow. According to the prosecutor’s office, Nemtsov was walking across a bridge over the Moscow river, just steps from the Kremlin, when a white car stopped and shots rang out.

Investigators say that Nemtsov was shot in the head, heart, stomach, and liver, with major organs possibly pointing to a professional hit. Investigators have confirmed that he was killed instantly when struck in the heart.

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“I want to tell you that in Russia – panic. The panic that people sweep products from the shelves. The panic that it is impossible to buy currency in exchange. The panic that people fired from their jobs. The fact that the government quietly began preparing for the suppression of mass protests “-Boris Nemtsov on Gromadska TV, 18 December 2014.

Boris Nemtsov killed 27 Feb 2015

The murder took place late on Friday evening on the bridge just behind St Basil’s Cathedral, near the edge of Red Square. He was walking with a companion, an (as yet) unidentified female from Kyiv (Kiev). Eyewitnesses noted the license plate of the car as it sped off, but police have not yet found the vehicle. No one else was hurt. Nemtsov was 55 years old, and is survived by his wife and four children.

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Nemtsov has been a vocal critic of Russia’s annexation of Crimea, and of Russia’s proxy war in Eastern Ukraine. He was scheduled to lead a major opposition rally in the centre of Moscow this Sunday, the first of March. Police had already jailed the other scheduled protest leader, Aleksi Navalny.

Boris Nemtsov Grigoriy Yavlinskiy Aleksei Navalniy 2011
2011 Moscow protest: L-R: Boris Nemtsov, Grigoriy Yavlinskiy, Aleksei Navalny.

Nemtsov had served Russia as deputy prime minister during the 1990s in the Boris Yeltsin government. After leaving office he had authored several reports linking Putin to Russia’s organized crime groups. His status, and likeability, had made him one of the country’s more popular among opposition leaders.

Boris Nemtsov Russia Ukraine without Putin 15 March 2014
Nemtsov, seen at the front looking at a mobile phone while co-leading a protest on 15 March 2014 to protest the annexation of Crimea and the war in Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin issued an executive order placing himself at the head of the investigation, and ordered the respective leaders of the Investigative Committee, the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the Federal Security Service to take over management of the homicide investigation. In the hours following the murder, police raided Nemtsov’s home and confiscated boxes of documents and computers.

Putin and Nemtsov in the Kremlin,  5 Dec 2000. (Photo: Kremlin presidential press office.)
Putin and Nemtsov in the Kremlin, 5 Dec 2000. (Photo: Kremlin presidential press office.)

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, called the murder a “pure provocation.” He said that Mr. Putin had extended condolences to the Nemtsov family. Peskov’s remarks echoed those of Mr. Putin, who himself wasted no time in suggesting that what he termed as a “brutal murder” may have been the work of outside forces to malign the Kremlin’s reputation.

Boris Nemtsov 2009 Obama Leonid Gozman, Nemtsov, Gennady Zyuganov, Yelena Mizulina, Sergei Mitrokhin
Moscow meeting at the US Embassy in 2009 with president Obama: L-R: Leonid Gozman, Boris Nemtsov, Gennady Zyuganov, Yelena Mizulina, Sergei Mitrokhin.

From Washington, USA president Barack Obama challenged Russia to do a “prompt, impartial and transparent” investigation to bring Nemtsov’s killers to justice. In his remarks Obama recalled his 2009 meeting with Russian opposition leaders in Moscow. Obama eulogized Nemtsov as a “tireless advocate” for Russia. Obama concluded by saying that the Russian people had “lost one of the most dedicated and eloquent defenders of their rights.”

In reference to his numerous arrests by the Putin government for political activities, the international group Amnesty International has called him a “prisoner of conscience.” 

Boris Nemtsov 24 Dec 2011
Boris Nemtsov speaking at a Moscow protest rally on 24 Dec 2011.

Nemtsov was one of the original promoters of the “Strategy 31 (Стратегия-31) rallies, a series of peaceful rallies meant to remind Russians of their constitutional right to free assemply, as enshrined by Article 31 of the Russian Constitution. Protests are scheduled in several cities across Russia on the 31st of every month with 31 days. Despite the constitutional guarantee, the government has found reasons to deem each “31” rally to be illegal. The largest “Strategy 31” rally was attended by some 2,000 persons on the 31st of May 2010. Over a hundred participants were arrested during that peaceful assembly.



Putting Russia In Its Place

Menduza quiz

We must admit that the name is quite catchy, “Lets Put Russia In Its Place” will evoke emotions to be sure. Relax, it is just a quiz to test your knowledge about how Russia ranks as compared with other nations around the world.

Created by the Menduza Project, this quiz is about the important stuff: who drinks the most beer, who watches the most television, etc. Actually, it is quite entertaining.

For the record, your esteemed Mendeleyev Journal editors scored a disappointing 8 out of 12. Not bad, but then again, not that great either.

So, try it for yourself!

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Ukraine Bids Farewell to Russia

A farewell to Russia

By Vitaly Portnikov

Russia may have won Crimea but it has lost Ukraine, writes Vitaly Portnikov. At the same time, Ukraine has gained a whole world of sympathetic people who support the country in its fight for something that should in fact be just as much a necessity for Russia too: freedom.

In the cafés, in the shops, on the streets of Kyiv everyone is asking the one question that matters in one particular way: will there be war? No one can quite finish the question: will there be war with Russia? That such a thing could even be: a war between Ukraine and Russia.

It was a Jewish custom to read a memorial prayer for relatives who converted to other faiths. We read such a prayer for you today, because you have converted to the faith of hatred toward those whom so recently you called brothers.

You have lost us. We have gained in return a whole world of sympathetic people who support us in our fight for freedom – not only our freedom, but your freedom as well, because you need freedom too, and if you have not yet realized this, you will soon enough. We have understood who was really our friend and our brother this whole time, and who simply pretended to be in the hope of sooner or later placing the double-eagled yoke over our neck.

Forgive us. We have a lot of work to do. We will be busy building a new land, in place of the old one, destroyed with your help. We have to monitor our own government so that it does not become a refuge for crooks, the sort of people who until recently ruled us and still rule you. We have to find a way to build a strong army, which will protect us from possible aggressors. We now know that we are not surrounded only by friends, and that such an army will be necessary. In a word: much to do, no time for Russia.

Editors note: this is a powerful and moving article. Please read in its entirety at this link.

Russian holidays in February

Sunday (22 Feb), was Forgiveness Sunday. As part of our Orthodox faith, we speak to everyone we meet in person that we were sorry for any slights and bad thoughts/deeds over the past year, and asked them to forgive us. This is done to everyone, not just those you remember offending.

Monday, 23 February is “Man’s Day” in Russia.

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Technically it is Day of the Defenders of the Fatherland (Soldiers/Veterans day).

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Over the years, and especially in Eastern Europe where most countries have a universal draft, it has kind of morphed in to a celebration of all men, regardless of whether they served in the military.

Maslenitsa Масленица (Масленица): pancake week, cheesefare week

Масленица (Maslenitsa) is often called “pancake week” (blini) or “cheesefare week” as it falls annually on the week just before Great Lent.

Maslenitsa week
Great Lent is the 40 days of fasting before Easter, with no meat, fish, eggs, dairy, etc, consumed until Orthodox Easter.

Maslenitsa is also associated with the beginning of spring. It is celebrated in most of Eastern Europe and parts of Asia.

Interesting reading here:

How Are Russians Coping With Inflation?

Western sanctions are aimed at key individuals in government and key industry. It is President Putin’s so-called “reverse sanctions,” his Russian sanctions against the import of Western products that are driving up the cost of consumer goods. So, how are everyday Russians coping with inflation? This video report by the Moscow Times newspaper begins to explore that question.