Monday, 2 March 2015 00:00
Reuters: Thousands of stunned Russians laid flowers and lit candles on Saturday on the bridge where opposition politician Boris Nemtsov was shot dead near the Kremlin, a murder that showed the risks of speaking out against President Vladimir Putin.
Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times in the back by killers in a white car late on Friday as he walked across the bridge over the Moskva River in central Moscow with a Ukrainian woman, who was unhurt, police said.
Police sealed off the blood-stained bridge close to the red walls of the Kremlin and Red Square for two hours overnight, then hosed it down as people came to pay tribute to one of Putin’s biggest opponents over Russia’s role in Ukraine.
Russia’s Investigative Committee, which answers to Putin, said it was following several lines of inquiry, including that the opposition may have committed the crime to rally support for a march against Kremlin policies on the economy and Ukraine.
Flowers were piled at least a metre (three feet) high, about two metres deep and two metres wide. A piece of white paper saying ‘We are all Nemtsov’ stood among the flowers.
“People are afraid to support our movement. Opposition activists receive threats every day and Boris was no exception. But they won’t stop us,” said opposition activist Mark Galperin.
No government or Kremlin official was seen paying tribute but many opposition figures did so, with some warning that the pro-war mood and anti-Western hysteria whipped up by Putin over Ukraine was leading Russia into a dark future.
A former deputy prime minister who had feared Putin wanted him dead, Nemtsov was the most prominent opposition figure killed in Putin’s 15-year rule. At one time he had been widely seen as the man most likely to succeed Yeltsin as president.