On Feb. 27, an assassin gunned down Boris Nemtsov, a noted Russian opposition politician and outspoken critic. This event sent shockwaves throughout the international political community and sparked a great debate about the motives of such a killing. Nemtsov was one of the greatest critics of current Russian President Vladimir Putin, leading many to believe the assassination was a politically-motivated conspiracy.
Nemtsov was killed while crossing Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge after sharing a meal with his girlfriend. His killer soon fled the scene and a manhunt is currently underway in Russia to find him. Leaders from nearly every world power soon condemned the slaying. Putin himself also condemned the killing, but there is great amount of doubt regarding the veracity of his words.
Nemtsov was shot four times, one bullet for each child he leaves behind.
His assassination came at a crucial time for him. The next day, he was scheduled to lead a street protest against the Russian actions in Ukraine, a major demonstration against the power of Putin. He also claimed to have evidence of Russian troops in Ukraine, an immensely damning piece of evidence against Putin if true. Needless to say, Putin had plenty of reasons to order such an assassination.
The man’s own mother feared for his life, and he somewhat feared for it himself. Putin is at best a paranoid autocrat, at worst a tyrannical despot. He feels the constant need to consolidate and demonstrate his power. The simple logic of this event holds that Nemtsov pushed too far and Putin had his life ended.
Nemtsov was a smart man, a physicist by education who had published over 60 papers over his career. Putin is a smart man, too. He may be a thug, but his political moves are calculated. Assassination is both a sign of weakness as much as it is a warning. Ordering Nemtsov killed would mean he feared the man, and fear is a dangerous emotion to demonstrate. Putin would also possibly open himself up to intense criticism and international sanctions, two things he could not afford. The Russian economy is in turmoil, and the same oil money that made Putin beloved has been taken away from him. Putin does not have the same power a true dictator such as Kim Jong-Un has in his country; revolution is his greatest fear.
It is possible this slaying was a result of a deranged gunman, terrorists or any other explanation. I cannot tell you, as an American college student, that you are going to get a great answer to this conspiracy from me. But none of this really matters.
The world has become too enamored in the intrigue of this event and the debate on who to assign blame to that it has forgotten that this is a tragedy. Nemtsov was a voice for peace and a voice for freedom. Whether the man behind the gun is motivated by a corrupt government or a corrupt heart, the world has lost a small battle in the fight to become a better place.
But we have to swing back.
We should be celebrating Nemtsov’s messages and trying as hard as he was to make the world a better place. He may have not have wanted to become a martyr, but that’s the best thing he can be at this point.
His assassin has not succeeded yet. His goal was not to end Nemtsov’s life, but to kill his message. Together, though, we can overcome the evil behind this action. Gunshots may have silenced a single outspoken voice, but those gunshots can be silenced by the clamor of tens of thousands of people who want to be heard, all spreading the word of peace and freedom that a man gave his life to speak.