03/02/2015, 00.00
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Tens of thousands flood Red Square in memory of Nemtsov

People march under the slogan "I'm not afraid," but no one is hoping for a real revival of civil society. The Church invites people not to exploit the tragedy, but Muscovites still believe those in "power" are behind the incident.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - For the first time in Putin's Russia the opposition marched in Moscow far as the walls of the Kremlin. It was not, however, a planned protest march against the crisis and government policies, but a funeral march.

Between 50 thousand and 100 thousand Muscovites (according to various estimates) marched, March 1, under the slogan "I'm not afraid" to bid farewell to Boris Nemtsov, the former deputy prime minister under Boris Yeltsin who became one of the leaders of the opposition to Vladimir Putin and who was shot dead on the night of February 27 on the bridge that leads to Red Square, in an area subject to the strictest surveillance in the land.

Boris Nemtsov had long been a politician of "little weight", but one of great charm who had a central role in organizing the protests against Putin's return to the Kremlin between 2011 and 2012.

There are various versions regarding the motive for the murder which range from crime of passion, to a common crime, to Islamic terrorism and the conspiracy theory of external forces, who "want to destabilize the country".

On the streets public opinion is far more compact in believing that, regardless of who contracted the killing, the "powers-that-be" (which includes the president, the media and the secret services) are responsible for the climate of intolerance towards dissidence, persecuted as a "fifth column" and "enemies of the country". Former MP Gennady Gudkov denounced: "The authorities have created a climate of hatred, enmity and persecution dismissing members of the opposition as traitors".

Protests will not continue

Despite the large turnout at the march, there is little hope for a real awakening of civil society and an effective opposition movement, after the crackdown following the Bolotnaya protests (May 2012). "Today I should be sad but I feel happy to see so many people on the streets - Masha, a young journalism student in Moscow told AsiaNews - I have little confidence in our future, but at least now I feel less alone".

An editorial site Gazeta.ru Nemtsov dhas described the murder as "a Boeing shot down by Russian domestic politics", with reference to the tragedy of the Malaysia airlines plane downed in East Ukraine last summer: the immensity of the tragedy many believe was a turning point, but just as the war in Donbass did not stop then, nothing is likely to change even in this case.

Reactions of the Orthodox Church

The Moscow Patriarchate expressed its condolences for the "tragedy" that has affected Nemtsov's family and friends, and its hope that "justice will prevail" and that the crime "is not shamefully exploited for political ends" as stated by the head of the Synodal Department for Relations between Church and Society, Vsevolod Chaplin.

"I am deeply shocked by the murder of Boris Nemtsov. Аnd many of my friends have experienced that shock, confusion and even fear - Serghei Chapnin, editor of the Moscow Patriarchate Journal told AsiaNews - We do not know the specific motives for the murder (and most likely will never know), but it is clear that the hatred fomented by many Russian media has reached unacceptable levels. Such intoxication of hatred cannot but lead to open violence. I know it sounds awful, but the murder of Nemtsov is 'very natural'. The murder of the politician, committed a few hundred meters from the Kremlin, shows how unmanageable the situation in my country has become". (MA)


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