Last Friday, Boris Nemtsov, Russia’s former deputy prime minister and a vocal critic of Putin, was shot several times on a bridge in Moscow. This wasn’t just any bridge, either: this was Bolshoy Moskovretsky Bridge, which leads to Red Square and the Kremlin’s presidential palaces.
To put this in perspective, this is is roughly equivalent to Ed Miliband being killed on Westminster Bridge, or if Jeb Bush was found dead at the George Washington Monument. (We do realise that this isn’t an exact parallel – Nemtsov was an opposition leader rather than the opposition leader, and unlike Miliband or Bush had almost no prospect of being in government any time soon – but nonetheless it’s pretty shocking.)
Before his murder, Nemtsov was due to hold an opposition march against the Kremlin on Sunday, but this was transformed into a mourning march as protesters turned out in their thousands (estimates ranged from 7,000 to 70,000) to protest his death. Many carried flowers, while others carried pictures of Nemtsov or placards.