Skip to main content

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - MARCH 01: People march in memory of Russian opposition leader and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov on March 01, 2015 in central Moscow, Russia. Nemtsov was murdered on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky bridge near St. Basil cathedral just few steps from the Kremlin on February 27. Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead ahead of a major opposition rally this weekend. (Photo by Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images)

Alexander Aksakov/Getty Images

Dmitry Peskov, the spokesman for President Vladimir Putin, was all too prompt to assert that the killing of the prominent opposition figutre Boris Nemtsov last Friday was "100 per cent a provocation." This willful leap to a conclusion undermined any faint hope that the Russian government would allow or enable a thorough, scrupulous investigation of Mr. Nemtsov's death.

Mr. Nemtsov was ready, willing and able to say what he thought. He was a provocative figure, forthright in saying that Mr. Putin was a mafia boss who was lying about Russia's role and motives in the Ukrainian conflict. He was working on a document to prove the depth of Moscow's involvement.

It will likely never be known whether Mr. Putin demanded, "Will no one rid me of this troublesome dissident?" as did King Henry II regarding Thomas Becket.

Story continues below advertisement

Mr. Putin openly regrets the dissolution of the Soviet Union, but he has not seriously tried to reconstitute it. The current regime is too chaotic, capricious and kleptocratic for that. Soviet communism was a monstrous bureaucracy. Mr. Putin's state is monstrous, but less bureaucratic and organized.

Mr. Putin seems to want oligarchs so that he can shake them down, from time to unpredictable time – for example, Vladimir Yevtushenko of Sistema Group (which includes the important Bashneft oil company), long in favour with the President, but placed in house arrest last September and then released again in December – just in time to attend a banquet held by Mr. Putin for a group of oligarchs!

As for the late Mr. Nemtsov, he apparently had no wish to go into exile, like some oligarchs. After he lost actual power in the late 1990s, his life was for years devoted to being a thorn in the side of the government. He had been able to travel, but he also had an aged mother in Russia, as well as a Ukrainian girlfriend – she is now being detained in Moscow in the apartment of some friends, for reasons that are unclear.

In one of his last interviews, Mr. Nemtsov said that Mr. Putin was "totally amoral," in contrast to the Soviet Union, when there was "at least a system"; decisions were taken by a small group, the politburo, not by one man. Exactly.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter