By: Joaquin Flores
around the world have carried some variation of the story: the murder of Boris
Nemtsov. Each of these includes some retelling of the pertinent facts:
what, who, where, how … but the real question is ‘why’. The answer to
this question, or rather, what the West insists is the answer, will tell us a
lot about the US’s plans to escalate the tensions in Russia over Ukraine, and
It would be foolish to
set aside any hypothesis about this being motivated by people close to him, in
the realm of business, politics, or romance. In anything related to
business dealings, we might recall that any number of people probably wanted
him dead due to his criminality and corruption while serving as director
of the now liquidated Neftyanoi Bank, and as chairman of its parent company
surrounded this affair back in 2006. Of course in the realm of romantic
problems, we have significantly those surrounding the woman he was last seen
with. This woman, Anna Duritskaya, was also present during the shooting.
Rumors are floating around that this could do with her recent abortion and
surrounding points of melodrama.
An obvious link with this case is the ongoing turmoil in Ukraine,
but in one variation—this killing may have been motivated by an internal
dispute between pro-US factions there. Nemtsov was connected with the US-backed
“Orange Revolution”, and Victor Yuschenko, who was appointed as an economic
advisor then, left under suspicious circumstances and more enemies than
Among any of these could very well be the motive of the killer or
those behind him, but the timing of this shooting and other pertinent facts
should lead us to consider that this was politically motivated.
These plots can actually
be somewhat complex, and it is often the case that two birds are killed with
one stone. A personal rival can be given a green light to settle a score,
and also accomplish something of larger geostrategic significance such as this.
But to the point, here
we are looking at whether this was carried out on the orders of one of the
major players in the present world turmoil. Concretely, the question is
whether this was carried out by the Russians and their friends, or by the US
and their friends and numerous “assets”.
Whether the actual
shooting was done by contract or not, is also not very important except when
looking at the forensics of the crime scene, and the immediate circumstances
themselves. These might tell us a few things, except that in cases such
as this we must always be mindful that looking like an unprofessional job –
such as in this case – would be something a professional would
do to throw off the scent.
For example, we are
likely to hear from friends of Russia that this killing does not have the
telltale signs of a professional type of hit, the sort that
a government would carry out. They will point out that, if chased by
Kremlin assassins, Boris Nemtsov would have died in a car crash, or from a
heart attack. It is considered far too sloppy for anyone in the Kremlin
to think of shooting him in public, with witnesses ready at hand. The CIA
experts would surely agree.
clean methods would actually seem to implicate the Russian state, whereas the
rather sloppy way Nemtsov was actually killed would force us to rule
this out. But by that same logic, if a hit of this sort were to be
carried out, then it would make perfect sense for the state to use an “amateur”
looking method. In the case of the US, a different objective must be
served. If the US was behind this, the murder would have to be “obvious”,
messy, ugly, leaving behind few doubts.
Indeed, if the
Russians had wanted Nemtsov dead, the value of killing him would have been in
his absence. But if the Americans were to kill him, the value would
be in the spectacle of the killing itself. This killing is
loaded with spectacle.
While one can argue that
Russia could have employed someone to use sloppy methods in order to throw off
the scent, it is more likely that given the method, the choreography, the US is
probably behind it. The deed itself could have been arranged through
Ukrainian assets, which the CIA and other NATO nations now have in abundance,
and would not have involved actual US agents on the ground in Moscow.
Thus this act in “broad daylight”
was very clearly a murder meant to be known as
a murder. This does not fit into either a Russian motive or modus
The deeper questions
surrounding any case of this sort seem to confirm the above.
The first question we
must ask is ‘cui bono’. In this case we know
that Russia, in particular Putin, had nothing to gain. The killing of
Nemtsov under any circumstances does not make any sense from
the view of a Russian or Putin interest. Politically, and alive, he did not
pose a real threat. With less than 5%, his ticket and the Republican
Party failed to garner enough support to get a seat in the Duma. And,
again, with approval ratings above 85%,
Putin scarcely needs to resort to these kinds of tactics, which, in any
case, despite his legions of slanderers, paid and amateur, he would be loath to
employ anyhow. Putin is not a tinhorn dictator, but the head of a powerful and
Indeed Russia today is at a different juncture historically and
politically, where such methods are not necessary even if there was an
opposition figure to be concerned about. With just about every other form
of virtual assassination possible, actual ones are not necessary. There
are other methods to delegitimize annoying characters like Nemtsov, which
invariably revolve around their business dealings, underage girls, and so forth.
These other methods are much cleaner, as assassinations make a
government look more desperate, create an unnecessary martyr out of a marginal
figure, and fuel more opposition at home and abroad.
While he held an
important position in the 1990’s under Yeltsin, as First Deputy Prime Minister
for about a year until 1998, his political career since the early 00’s had been
of little significance and has not inspired mass support.
That said, it is the US that has the most to gain from this.
The Western press has painted Nemtsov for years as the likely person to
replace Putin in the event of a serious fracture of political stability in
Russia. This follows a self-serving western narrative, where western
liberal values are superimposed as natural and universal around the
While Nemtsov was one of the US’s favorites, he is not a favorite
with the Russian people. The actual ‘runner up’ party in Russia,
which is projected to surpass Putin’s ruling party in the event of a serious
change, is the Communist Party of Zyuganov. But this narrative cuts
against western interests, and is at odds with the west’s narratives about the
Cold War and its results.
That the western press
and the leadership of the US and Ukraine are already exploiting this is another
clue that they most likely had a hand in it.
We can see already statements made by Obama and Poroshenko, the Canadian Foreign
Minister, and also the deputy general secretary
of NATO. The declarations happened very quickly, uniformly, and
seem to be following an agreed on format.
These statements from NATO
and foreign governments are outrageous, but not surprising, because they imply
that the Russian government was behind the crime. Why would the murder be
condemned‘? Besides the fact that all murders are condemned,
generally, by the societies in which they occur (hence there are laws against
them), why would this particular murder be ‘condemned’politically without
knowing at this point if there was a political motive at all?
As we know, on March 1st, tomorrow, there will be another attempt
by pro-US forces and their liberal allies (read savage free-marketers) to
launch a Russian “Spring”, also called the ‘Anti-Crisis March’. With this
fresh murder just 36 hours before the March, we might expect to see the
martyrdom of Nemtsov highlighted.
Just ten days ago,
Alexei Navalny another western-backed figure, was arrested for trying to
organize the march, which backers hope will attract as many as 100,000 against
When Putin was last elected, the same group organized a similar
march. The loyal opposition Communists joined this march, and drowned the
liberal banners with communist ones. This was an excellent test run and
message sent to US handlers, that Russia is ready with its own loyal
opposition to frustrate and redirect the aims of any 5th column efforts on
the part of the US.
Likewise, on the propaganda front, the patriotic scene has
co-opted the term ‘Russian Spring’ to mean the opposite of what the US has
branded it in places like Egypt, Libya, and Syria. Now it means a
movement to push back the US’s hegemonic schemes, including its use of the
The biggest concern now for this Sunday’s march is not the
turnout, or how it will be spun in the west. The problem on the propaganda
side of this action so far is that it is quite useless and incomplete.
political stability and the popularity of Putin is not in the hands of western
media. This represents a monumental shift from the last days of old
media during the collapse of the USSR, when BBC and CNN represented the
spectacle of “objective”and “neutral” reporting.
For Russian audiences, and Russian media, this investigation will
follow the form of a standard murder investigation. Given the status of the
victim and the political implications, it will be given significant
coverage. Eventually investigators will make an arrest, and some story
will be told. The story may or may not be true, but by and large it will
Russians are not losing sleep over this murder, and the outcome of
the investigation is not related in any way to their general support for the
present government and its policies. Russians have other things to do,
places to go, work to get done, and lives to live. Most didn’t like
Nemtsov, and only see it as a tragedy, perhaps even a US plot. Those who like
him will blame the state, as they hold the state and Putin responsible for much
of everything else. All of this is true also of Sunday’s planned march.
For western audiences, Russia is already a totalitarian regime in
which opposition is silenced, and its leaders imprisoned and killed in cold
blood. This is already the standard narrative which requires no further
reiteration. Putin is Hitler. Appeasement will not work. This is
already the line.
All of this means that we haven’t heard the end of this yet.
It is difficult to see how increased sanctions can be pulled out of this
murder, but if there are, that should be no surprise. Past sanctions were
based on less. Still, Europe has grown wary of sanctions and any further
sanctions are likely to be symbolic, as were the last round.
The biggest concern now is if there are more killings planned for
Sunday. The US seems
to be going ahead with all of its plans even if the necessary successes at each
step before are not met. We have seen this in Syria and Ukraine.
In such an event, it is obvious how the US will likely spin the
“propaganda fallout” of this event, and the call will soon begin openly—as it
did for Assad— for Putin to step down. While this last part may be an
eventuality at any rate, the events tomorrow will tell us whether we should
expect a serious escalation of this destabilization process.
Read the Greanville Post edit of this article here:
Joaquin Flores is an American expat living in Belgrade. He is a full-time analyst at the Center for Syncretic Studies, a public geostrategic think-tank. His expertise encompasses Eastern Europe and Eurasia,