"Starovoytova, Politkovskaya, Shekochihin,Nemtsov... Who's next?" was written on the poster held aloft by a woman, around 70 years old, who joined the démonstration on 1 March in Moscow, the day after the killing of the famous Russian politician and outspoken Putin critic Boris Nemtsov.
Once we got the news about Nemtsov's death, many of us recalled how often such murders happened 10-15 years ago. We all remembered the ordered killing of Galina Starovoytova, a democrat politician; of Anna Politkovskaya, an investigative journalist; and many others. The news of Nemtsov's death brought us all back to that time.
Many started to compare these murders and claimed they have similarities. People suggested that all four were instigated by a political party, an oligarchy, a business group or the secret services, and were intended to remove an "uncomfortable" politician, journalist or activist.
This is a well-known reality for those who lived in post-USSR countries after the fall of the Berlin Wall. But to me, it feels like with the Nemtsov killing, everything is not that clear and there is possibly another story behind it. Politkovskaya and others were victims of a regime in a different country, it was not the same Russia. At that time it was a country with different faces. Faces of politicians, mafia and even opposition figureheads. Hard to imagine now, you could actually read divergent opinion in federal medias.
Killed in a different country
Nemtsov's career developed in that time, in that Russia. He was a promising liberal politician, and was even often considered as Yeltsin's successor. But Boris Nemtsov was killed in a different country, a single-faced Russia, with one single opinion and in fact, only one official politician.
Nemtsov was killed in q country where mafia and political clans are no longer fighting for power nor domination; they already lost it all. The official power, business and media are in the hands of Putin and his "O'Briens", obsessed with severely punishing crimes of thought.
But to claim that Putin ordered the killing of Nemtsov is irresponsible to say the least, as long as the investigation continues. To me, this scenario does not seem very realistic. I don't believe that Putin directly ordered the killing of Nemtsov, I don't see how he could be holding his phone with sweaty hands to give the order. It is not Putin himself who planed this spectacular event so near the Kremlin's walls. But be sure, his regime is responsible for this murder.
Putin's regime now lives independently from its creator and is no longer under control. The chaos of hatred created by the regime has become more dangerous than Putin himself, and as it is known, hatred cannot be controlled.
Unfortunately for him, Putin forgot that hatred lives by its own rules as he reduced the federal medias to doing only one thing: sharing propaganda filled with hatred and false information against Ukraine, liberals, and any opposition that supports Kiev.
It has been proven that reports claiming Russian children were crucified by Ukrainian nationalists were entirely made up, as were the numerous everyday speeches by Putin depicting every single Ukrainian citizen as a Bandera (Ukrainian Nationalist leader during World War II) thirsty for Russian blood. As were lies about millions of dollars being transferred from the USA and Europe to opposition activists and politicians. The vision given by Russian federal medias is fairly simple: you are either pro-Putin, or a banderlog.
It is rash to believe that feeding one part of society with constant propaganda and creating limits for the other part will not go out of control sooner or later. The first 4 bullets were fired into Nemtsov's body. How many others will follow? I am scared many will.
Chaos is the result of Putin's politik, and Nemtsov's death is just the beginning. Putin does not have much control anymore over separatists in eastern Ukraine, and he controls less and less inside his country as well. Putin created a "Russian monster" that wants to live by itself now.
We have to think about Putin, to look at him and listen to him, not to create our own monster her. Too often we have heard gunshots over the last few months, even in civilised western Europe. What does it have to do with Russia? Nothing. But those who were killed by guns, including Nemtsov, all have one thing in common.
In one-way or another, they represented what we call "freedom of expression", independent opinions often diverging from the official one. All of us have been named and condemned by governments or official media for expressing a different point of view from the one allowed either by the government or the norms of political correctness.
All of us have been attacked many times for the positions we take: Charlie Hebdo in France was often called, and is still widely considered, "islamophobic" and "racist" for its caricatures of Mohammed, even sometimes by officials, in the same way as Nemtsov was pointed out for standing against military intervention in Ukraine and Putin's policy. All of this slowly contributed to the deaths of those that were killed for independent thinking and living.
As long as we continue to support freedom of expression, pluralism and independent positioning only as it is close to our position or to the official one, otherwise feeling the necessity to condemn, we will continue to help extremists to target people, and possibly will breed and grow another monster, similar to the Russian one, that will unleash chaos in the rest of the world.