Israel Shamir reporting from Moscow offers his view on Who Killed Nemtsov

March 8, 2015
By Israel Shamir

The alleged killers of Boris Nemtsov are apprehended, and they are (a dramatic pause) some Muslims from Chechnya who allegedly desired to punish the politician for his Je suis Charlie position. There is no official report available yet, but this implausible version is being promoted in Moscow. What’s that, a poor man’s 9/11? Indeed the Russian politician’s assassination seems to be produced by the same great studio that gave us 9/11, Boston marathon, Charlie killings. These crimes in New York, Boston, Paris and now Moscow have two common features: Muslims are accused of committing them, and there is a very strong and widely spread lack of belief in this accusation and in the details of the crime as published.

These doubtful crimes have an additional common quality: their striking visual aspect. Nemtsov’s death wasn’t on the Twin Towers scale, but the flamboyant playboy and an opposition politician was dispatched in style. Fluffy snow falling upon the bridges over Moscow River with brightly-lit polychrome domes of St Basil’s Cathedral and the red crenelated walls of Kremlin provided a perfect background. Add six bullets, a white American car the assassins used to flee the scene, and a Ukrainian beauty model Anna, 23, stooping over the prostrated body of her dead lover, and you’ll get a haunting picture Raymond Chandler could script and Howard Hawks direct. Or perhaps James Cameron of the Titanic would be a better choice.

A tinge of envy may be felt in my description. Nemtsov had a charming life, and a beautiful timely death, too. A young physics graduate, he was elevated by the revolution of 1991, made a governor of a major city, a deputy prime minister, a claimant to presidency, a dollar millionaire. Since 2000, his life in politics went downhill by virtue of his previous success. Nemtsov was generally considered an enabler of the grand larceny of Russia by the oligarchs, a promoter of “robber privatisation”. This was confirmed by Mr Ponomaryev MP, his friend and a prominent oppositionist. Some Yeltsin’s cadres retained important positions in Putin’s Russia to this very day, but Nemtsov was not among them.

His attempts to get elected a mayor or a parliament member all failed. He had little to do, but to enjoy life, womanising, drinking, dining and nursing his resentment of Putin he was on first-name-terms with. Still, he wasn’t bitter but cheerful. At 55, he was a has-been, nothing to expect, but going to demos and repeating the same dreary slogan of Down with Putin as he did on the US-owned and financed channels. He was killed Friday night, and on Sunday he was supposed to go to Maryino, a dreary suburb of Moscow, to demonstrate against inflation. The assassination saved him from this tedious task: he died still youngish, still slim and lithe, still a curly gypsy boy, in the arms of a delectable young thing.

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