Russia has been changed forever by the murder of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov a day after thousands marched through central Moscow in his memory. “The reaction to the murder of Boris Nemtsov turned out to be as extraordinary as the politician himself,” wrote the Kommersant business daily in a front page article that ran alongside a photo of Nemtsov carried at Sunday’s memorial march.
Organisers said that 70,000 people marched through central Moscow, crossing the bridge where Nemtsov was shot, a turnout that Kommersant said had not been reached since the mass opposition rallies of 2011 against President Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin.
Nemtsov’s murder within sight of the Kremlin walls “crossed a psychological boundary, after which Russia will inevitably be different,” wrote the business daily Vedomosti in a front-page editorial.
“After Nemtsov’s shocking murder, a lot of people have said that we woke up in a different country,” wrote Gazeta.ru website, calling the march in memory of Nemtsov “a march against fear.” “In fact we have for at least a year lived in a country where thinking differently was equated with treachery, and some were ready to kill for this. It’s just that yesterday they were killing with words, and today they have started with bullets,” Gazeta.ru wrote.
Opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta wrote that Nemtsov regularly received death threats but did not take them seriously. “In recent years I have seen a huge number of provocations, threats and acts of meanness. And I’ve developed a certain immunity to this,” it quoted Nemtsov as saying last April. Commenting on pressure from Russia’s authorities, Nemtsov said: “Well maybe they could kill me, I don’t know, but it’s more likely they would put me in prison.”
Popular pro-Kremlin tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravada, however, dismissed the possibility that Nemtsov was killed for his political beliefs. “Who has ever been killed in our country for purely political reasons?” it asked in an editorial. “This isn’t Ukraine after all… Here a lot of people are killed for money but you don’t find people killed for politics.”
Novaya Gazeta however described Nemtsov’s murder as a “point of no return, of radical destabilisation of Russia’s domestic politics, whose consequences cannot yet be predicted.” Kommersant pointed out that the repercussions of Nemtsov’s murder will affect Russia’s image globally and if it is not adequately investigated, “could be a serious argument for supporters of a hard approach towards Moscow.”