Several thousands of people (50,000 according to the organisers, 20,000 according to the police) protested in Moscow on 1 March in homage to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was killed on Friday by unidentified assailants close to the Red Square, at the heart of the capital.
While his supporters talk of a “political assassination”, the Russian authorities have called it a “provocation” aiming to “destabilise” the country and its current leadership. Responsibility for the enquiry has been given to the Investigative Committee of the Russian Federation, the department which, under the direct authority of the Kremlin, investigates the most serious or politically sensitive crimes and murders.
Kommersant observes that–
Russia’s image abroad, but also hopes for an improvement in relations with the West across the board, depend on the effectiveness and transparency of the murder enquiry carried out by Russian authorities. […] This adds another negative aspect – the question of democratic rights and freedoms – to an already strained relationship. […] In addition, although the EU and the US did not reach a final decision about strengthening sanctions on Russia, if the enquiry is deemed inadequate by the West, Nemtsov’s murder could be a powerful argument for those demanding a hard line against Moscow.