June 18, 2021

Somber Russians fear for their country’s future after Boris Nemtsov’s murder

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IMG_0509 IMG_2576 IMG_5162 IMG_5454By Natalia Antonova From Mashable

MOSCOW — Thousands of people marched in Moscow in memory of slain opposition politician Boris Nemtsov on Sunday. Nemtsov’s shocking murder, which took place literally beside the Kremlin’s walls on Friday night, triggered one of the largest opposition marches in recent memory.

The march immediately stood out due to the large number of Russian flags unfurled, most bearing black ribbons. Up until recently, Russian flags in such a great number were more associated with various government-sponsored events.

In the wake of the Ukraine crisis, Russia’s liberal opposition, which has opposed the country’s involvement in Ukraine, was frequently cast as unpatriotic and even traitorous. Many of the people who marched in Nemtsov’s memory on Sunday spoke about how vicious propaganda may have contributed to his murder, or at least created an atmosphere in which such violence is seen as acceptable. Many carried placards that read “Propaganda kills.”

For some attendees, the march was first and foremost a show of solidarity — both with Nemtsov and Russia.

“I came and brought my grandson, because I am a patriot,” Boris Nikolayevich, a retiree, said. “Being a patriot means protesting violence, and showing solidarity for victims.

“I wanted to pay my respects to a brave man.” “I wanted to pay my respects to a brave man.”

Nikolayevich’s words were echoed by Anna Voronova, a Muscovite in her 20s.

“A few years ago, I was probably naïve; I thought that this country could be changed overnight,” she said. “Just the fact that [this murder] was even possible, right here, in the center of town, under the very nose of the police — it shows how far Russia needs to go … But you know what, I love my country and I believe in it, and I won’t be terrorized, so there.”

The overall mood at Sunday’s march was somber, and chants were few; this was a stark contrast to when Russia’s anti-government protest movement was relatively unscarred, back in the winter of 2011-12.

At the time, ironic placards were en vogue, and attendees were jovial and hopeful, excited to meet so many like-minded people in a place where an implicit social contract between the government and ordinary citizens ensured that the latter remain apolitical for the sake of stability.

But that time is long gone now.

Following the March 2012 re-election of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a May 2012 rally that descended into violence (some say deliberately provoked violence), high-profile searches and arrests, a spate of increasingly repressive new laws, the annexation of Crimea, sanctions, and what for all intents and purposes is an undeclared war being waged by Russia in parts of eastern Ukraine, it seemed that things couldn’t be more dire for the opposition, and its liberal members in particular.

Currently, Putin enjoys high approval ratings. The sinking ruble and a worsening economy, affected by both sanctions and a low oil price, have not impacted public opinion of his administration.

But for those who attended Sunday’s memorial march, Nemtsov’s murder means that Putin — and all of Russia by extension — is now in trouble.

“I wish Putin would wake up, because soon enough, we will all be in the same boat, which could capsize” a retiree named Vladimir said. “This murder shows that things could actually destabilize in the country … It shows that violent chaos is possible. We should all be concerned — Putin should be concerned, the opposition should be concerned.”

Yulia Navalny, wife of opposition activist Alexei Navalny, grasps a bouquet of flowers while marching next to a woman with a sign that reads “I’m not afraid” during the march to commemorate Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on Sunday, March 1, 2015. IMAGE: EVGENY FELDMAN, MASHABLE
Moscow Nemtsov march A man holds a placard of Boris Nemtsov while demonstrators carry a banner reading “Heroes never die” in Moscow on Sunday, March 1, 2015. IMAGE: EVGENY FELDMAN, MASHABLE
Bolotnaya Square protests, Moscow Russians partake in what became known as the Bolotnaya pro-democracy protests in Moscow on Dec. 10, 2011. IMAGE: EVGENY FELDMAN, MASHABLE
Moscow Nemtsov march Thousands of people march through Moscow to mourn the death of Boris Nemtsov on Sunday, March 1, 2015. IMAGE: EVGENY FELDMAN, MASHABLE

For more on this story go to: http://mashable.com/2015/03/01/russia-boris-nemtsov-fear/?utm_campaign=Feed%3A+Mashable+%28Mashable%29&utm_cid=Mash-Prod-RSS-Feedburner-All-Partial&utm_medium=feed&utm_source=feedburner&utm_content=Google+Feedfetcher

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