Russian opposition leader Nemtsov shot dead in Moscow

Boris Nemtsov, a former deputy PM and Putin critic, shot several times from a passing car near the Kremlin.

Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, was working on a report presenting evidence that he believed proved Russia’s direct involvement in the separatist rebellion that has raged in eastern Ukraine since last April. (Al Jazeera)

Putin said he had taken the investigation into the death under personal control. The Russian president’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the murder bore “the hallmarks of a contract killing” and could have been a “provocation,” considering that Nemtsov was planning to lead a big protest organized by the opposition in Moscow on Sunday. (Deutsche Welle)

“He was afraid of being killed,” Boris Nemtsov wife said. “And he was trying to convince himself, and me, they wouldn’t touch him because he was a member of the Russian government, a vice premier, and they wouldn’t want to create a precedent. Because as he said, one time the power will change hands in Russia again, and those who served Putin wouldn’t want to create this precedent.” (New York Times)

According to the Russian newspaper Pravda (close to Kremlin), “in 2009, Nemtsov and Kasparov met personally with Obama. They discussed anti-Putin tactics – regime change by any other name. Nemtsov’s killing was strategically timed – ahead of Sunday’s Vesna (Russian Spring anti-government) opposition march. It’ll now be a Nemtsov memorial rally – turning an anti-Putin/pro-Western opportunist/convenient stooge into an unjustifiable martyr”. (Pravda)

Martin Schulz, President of the European Parliament and EU Foreign Policy spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic strongly condemned Russia Over Nemtsov Funeral Bans (ABC News)