Six years ago, world leaders from around Europe (including the Secretary General of the Council of Europe), Canada, and the United States all condemned the assassination of Boris Nemtsov, a physicist and politician who was opposed to Putin’s government. The fatal attack on Mr. Nemtsov on 27 February 2015 occurred less than two days before a planned opposition protest against Putin.
Leaders were shocked and saddened by Nemtsov’s death and demanded an impartial investigation. After his murder, mourners organized a march from Kitay-gorod to the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge, where he was killed, along with other marches around Russia, London, and Paris in his memory.
In the weeks before his death, Nemtsov was vocal about his fear of being killed by Putin. Nemtsov criticized Putin’s government as an increasingly authoritarian and undemocratic regime, highlighting the widespread embezzlement and profiteering ahead of the Sochi Olympics and Russian political and military interference in Ukraine as examples of this. He published in-depth reports starting in 2008 that detailed the corruption under the Putin regime, which he was able to connect directly to the President himself. As part of this political struggle, Nemtsov was an active organizer of and participant in Dissenters’ Marches, Strategy-31 civil actions, and “For Fair Elections” rallies.
Nemtsov made an appearance on the popular American TV series Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, in which he discussed the importance of Western Europe and the United States monitoring Putin’s actions both inside Russia and throughout Europe.
We, as Europeans, are still waiting for our leaders to pass meaningful legislation that holds Putin accountable for his actions, even in the wake of Navalny’s imprisonment and the rapid and unexpected death of the doctor who treated him. Nemtsov and many others we have discussed on our blog have been pleading for change but little, if anything, has happened. How much more must people suffer before action is taken?