Nemtsov killers ‘to be brought to justice’

Nemtsov killers ‘to be brought to justice’
Updated 01 March 2015

Nemtsov killers ‘to be brought to justice’

Nemtsov killers ‘to be brought to justice’

MOSCOW: President Vladimir Putin on Saturday vowed to bring the “vile” killers of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov to justice as Western leaders and Russia’s opposition roundly condemned the drive-by shooting near the Kremlin walls.
Putin, who earlier blamed the assassination on foes trying to discredit the Kremlin, said in a message to Nemtsov’s mother: “Everything will be done so that the organizers and perpetrators of a vile and cynical murder get the punishment they deserve.”
US President Barack Obama condemned what he called the “brutal” and “vicious” murder of Nemtsov.
The 55-year-old former deputy premier who was a vocal critic of Putin, was shot in the back several times shortly before midnight Friday as he walked across a bridge a stone’s throw from the Kremlin.
Hours later on Saturday a steady stream of mourners, many in tears, filed by on the bridge, heaping flowers and photos of Nemtsov at the spot where he fell.
Police closed off a lane of traffic to let them through.
Investigators said Nemtsov was shot in the back while walking with a woman, who was not injured. She was later identified as 23-year-old Ukrainian model, Anna Duritskaya, by Russian state television.
The murder, investigators added, was the work of one or more gunmen who shot seven or eight times at the opposition figure who in the 1990s served as deputy premier under then President Boris Yeltsin.
He “left his trace in Russia’s history, in politics and public life,” Putin said in the message to his 86-year-old mother, Dina Eidman.
Earlier, Putin and other officials suggested the crime was aimed at smearing the authorities. It “had all the hallmarks of a contract killing and is entirely provocative in nature,” he was quoted as saying by the Kremlin.
Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Kommersant FM radio station that the crime “can look very much like a provocation” since “Boris Nemtsov was known as being in opposition to the Russian leadership.”
Even the last Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev believed the killing was aimed at “destabilising the situation in the country, at heightening confrontation” with the West.
And the powerful Investigative Committee leading the probe said it was looking into a possible “provocation to destabilize the political situation in the country.”
Hours before his murder, Nemtsov had urged Russians to join a planned opposition rally on Sunday.
“The key political demand is an immediate end to the Ukraine war,” he said on popular Echo of Moscow radio, adding that Putin should quit.
Opposition activists scrapped the rally after news of his death while the authorities gave permission for a march in memory of Nemtsov through the city center on Sunday afternoon.