Moscow Assassination

Rethinking Russian Strategy After Shooting

The death of a reformer. Mourners at a rally for Boris Nemstov in St. Petersburg. Source: action press/REX
The death of a reformer. Mourners at a rally on Sunday for Boris Nemstov in St. Petersburg.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Germany is likely to harden its line on Russia after one of Mr. Putin’s main opponents was assasinated.

  • Facts


    • Boris Nemtsov was killed on Friday night by a gunman meters from the Kremlin.
    • He was a long-time critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
    • Around 50,000 people turned out on the streets of Moscow on Sunday to comemorate his death.
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Relations between Europe and Russia nosedived over the weekend after a leading critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was gunned down a few meters from the Kremlin. Experts said the killing of Boris Nemtsov, the country’s former vice premier under Boris Yeltsin, would cause many nations in Europe, perhaps even Germany, to recalibrate their Russian strategy.

Mr. Nemtsov was killed by a gunman while walking home Friday night with his Ukrainian girlfriend. The regime critic in the days before had claimed to have evidence proving the Russian government’s direct role in organizing and supporting the Ukraine conflict.

“The Nemtsov murder will affect Western thinking on how to deal with an increasingly authoritarian Putin,” Hans Kundnani, a research director in London at the European Council on Foreign Relations, told Handelsblatt Global Edition. “It is turning away from Europe, rejecting Western norms. There is an increasing realization that Russia is not a partner for Europe. It is an adversary.”

Mr. Nemtsov had been a vocal campaigner against government corruption, and published in 2013 a report on corruption in the preparations of the Winter Olympic Games in Sochi. He had recently focused on the Ukraine conflict.

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