Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Muscovites mark year since opposition chief slain

Published:Sunday | February 28, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Protestors walk during a mass march marking the one-year anniversary of killing of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, yesterday.


Chanting "Russia will be free", about 30,000 people marched across Moscow yesterday in memory of the slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in a strong outpouring of emotion on the anniversary of his killing. Some carried signs saying "I am not afraid".

The march was the largest opposition gathering since a similar number turned out to mourn Nemtsov two days after he was shot late at night as he and a companion walked across a bridge near the Kremlin. The brutality so close to the centre of Russian power both frightened and angered supporters of the beleaguered opposition.

Nemtsov, who had been a deputy prime minister during Boris Yeltsin's presidency, was a charismatic figure and a vehement critic of President Vladimir Putin.

"He was the embodiment of freedom and courage. He was a model for me," said marcher Kamala Igamberdiyeva, a 26-year-old accountant. "We still have a chance if the opposition shows wisdom and unites."

City authorities denied march organisers permission to hold a procession to the bridge where Nemtsov was killed, but approved another route in central Moscow. For hours after the march, thousands also visited the bridge, filing past in a steady stream and laying flowers at the makeshift memorial.

United States Ambassador John Tefft laid a wreath at the bridge, saying he came to express hope that "some of the dreams that Boris Nemtsov had will come true in Russia". The ambassadors of European Union countries plan to pay their respects at the bridge today.