Russia Update: March in Memory of Slain Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov

February 27, 2016
March in memory of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, assassinated one year ago, February 27, 2016. The banner says "Murdered For Freedom". Photo by

LIVE UPDATES: The march to commemorate slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has started in Moscow.

Welcome to our column, Russia Update, where we will be closely following day-to-day developments in Russia, including the Russian government’s foreign and domestic policies.

The previous issue is here.

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Live video feed from the Nemtsov memorial march in Moscow provided by RFE/RL:


Marches in Memory of Nemtsov’s Assassination Disrupted in Russian Cities; Krasnoyarsk Organizer Kidnapped

From all accounts, the march to commemorate the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov proceeded without incident in Moscow. Police relented and let some supporters walk past the site of Nemtsov’s murder on the bridge by the Kremlin.

There were police at the ready in case the opposition didn’t disperse.

But similar events in other Russian cities did not fare so well.

In Voronezh, the Nemtsov march had to be moved due to a bomb scare, Novaya Gazeta reported, citing Interfax. Police said a bomb-sniffing dog reacted to a car. The march was moved to a new location.

About 150 people took part in the action in Voronezh. Anti-opposition activists threw eggs, flour, and zelyonka (indelible green disinfectant) at them.

In Krasnoyarsk, the planned march was disrupted when the organizer, Yevgeny Baburin was kidnapped by unknown persons. They held him in a car for several hours and then let him go. Police wouldn’t let the march proceed without the organizer present.

Earlier, Baburin had found a threatening note in his garage with the number “27” crossed out. 

In Kemero, six demonstrators were detained. When 15 people showed up to mark Nemtsov’s murder, police warned them that they had not obtained permission from the city administration.

Yesterday, a local Parnas leader said the organizer of the march in Chelyabinsk, Vyacheslav Kislitsin, city leader of the Democratic Coalition was severely beaten, OVDInfo reported. He was hospitalized with broken ribs and numerous cuts and bruises and was said to suffer a heart attack. Kislitsin said he recognized members of the local FSB Center for Anti-Extremism among his attackers.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Estimates of Number of Marchers to Commemorate Boris Nemtsov Range from 7,500 to 25,000

As often is the case with such opposition events, there has been a debate about how many people actually turned out for the march today in memory of slain opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.

Blogger Ilya Varlamov was told by police earlier that there were “7,500”. The police number is not necessarily trustworthy, given antipathy they have shown to liberal opposition marchers in the past.

An AP reporter said “several dozen thousands”:

Radio Liberty/Radio Free Europe (RFE/RL) estimated 25,000 participants in its coverage:

Russia Marks One Year Since Nemtsov Killing

Supporters of slain Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov are preparing to march through Moscow to mark the first anniversary of his killing. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister and vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead on a bridge overlooking the Kremlin on February 27 last year.

View full page →

Feb 27, 2016 17:55 (GMT)

Translation: the estimate of the number in the Nemtsov march of 8,000, just like 50,000 is a lie. I saw the beginning and the end; it seems to me the optimal number is 20,000.

The independent online newspaper Vedomosti reported that volunteers from an organization that counts demonstrators called “White Counter” ticked off those passing through metal detectors and said the number was 22,800. Vedomosti also noted that Interfax gave the number of 7,500, provided by the Moscow police.

Translation: Procession in memory of Nemtsov with the slogan “Kadyrov is the Disgrace of Russia.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

March in Memory of Nemtsov Draws Supporters of Ukrainian Pilot Savchenko and Russian Political Prisoners

The march in memory of Boris Nemtsov is winding down — the organizers may have kept the route deliberately short to avoid problems with police. 

Ilya Varlamov uploaded this photo by Anton Belitsky from Moslenta and wrote:

2016-02-27 12:33:11

“The column has stretched out a good long way. Some are still on Rozhdestvensky Street, and some are already on Sakharov Avenue – Silver Rain.”

Marches were also held in other cities including in Nizhny Novgorod; Nemtsov was once the governor of Nizhegorodsky Region. 

Other causes were mentioned along with commemorating Nemtsov, including the continued imprisonment in Russia of Ukrainian pilot Nadiya Savchenko, who has been on a hunger strike. This tweet is by her lawyer.
This Siberian artist and blogger has been arrested in the past for political art performances. He came to Moscow to participate in the march.
Translation: it’s good on Myasnitskaya.

Translation: Pavlensky along the march.

The image is of a painting of Pyotr Pavlensky, another political performance artist who was jailed for burning the doors of the FSB on Lubyanka Square. Police spray-painted the images over last week. 

Translation: quite a lot of people.

Translation: Thanks to all who came to the March in Memory of Nemtsov. You are real citizens of your country! Good job!

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

At Least 7,500 Turn Out for March in Memory of Slain Opposition Leader Nemtsov
The march is underway in memory of Boris Nemtsov, former governor of Nizhny Novgorod, first deputy prime minister and co-chair of the opposition Parnas party, assassinated a year ago today.
Translation: Yashin has declared a minute of silence. Live blog:
Translation: According to police information, 7,500 people are taking part in the march. Live blog:

Translation: Already 14,356 people are taking part in the march in memory of #Nemtsov . It’s too bad that this is some sort of show.

It is not known how this figure was arrived at, but possibly the number of people who went through metal detectors was counted, as has been done with past marches. 

Translation: #NemtsovMarch
Translation: Parnas #NemtsovMarch

Translation: “Heroes do not die!” #NemtsovMarch #Boris ‘ [Fight!]

The name “Boris” is nearly the same as the word “Fight!” in Russian (it just has a soft sign on the end), so the opposition often uses this term on posters.  

“Heroes don’t die!” is a Ukrainian expression used by the Maidan participants after their fellow demonstrators were killed by snipers on the square. 

The Moscow mayor’s office did not grant a permit for the march to go to the site of Nemtsov’s assassination on Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge, just steps from the Kremlin. But some marchers have taken this route anyway, apparently so far without incident. 

Translation: We’re going across the bridge.
Translation: Navalny, Volkov, Lyaskin in the procession in Moscow. #NemtsovMarch #Nemtsov

Translation: A farce instead of a commemoration… #NemtsovMarch

The clip has demonstrators changing “Heroes never die!” “Glory to Nemtsov!”

The Ukrainian saying popularized with the Maidan demonstrations was “Glory to Ukraine! Glory to Heroes!” so this chant is a variation on the Ukrainian sayings which annoys some Russians.

Translation: #NemtsovMarch

The man’s sign says “You can’t kill everyone.” He is carrying an avos’ka, a “just-in-case bag,” the hallmark of the Soviet era when people never knew when a line might suddenly form for something in short supply. 

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick 

March in Memory of Slain Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov
A march organized by the Russian opposition in Moscow in memory of Boris Nemtsov, opposition leader assassinated in Moscow late on the night of February 27, 2015, has gotten underway somewhat belatedly.
Translation: The start was delayed, the column went a little ways and once again is standing. On-line chronicle of events here:
Translation: they’re starting soon.
— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick
Chechen Leader Announces on NTV He is Stepping Down
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who has scandalized — and terrorized — his own republic’s people and the Russian opposition as well as many observers, announced in an interview on the state-run NTV that he was leaving his post as head of Chechnya, Novaya Gazeta reported.

“To speak honestly, I have been getting things done, and it has worked for me up to this day. In order that my name not be used against my people, I believe that another person has to be found for the leadership of the government. I am saying that my time has passed. I have many heirs in my team, there are good specialists.”

He said any person reaches their limit. “This is the peak. This is the peak for Kadyrov,” he said.
Last week Kadyrov had announced in an interview with RSN that he had fulfilled his mission as head of Chechnya but had not discussed his propspects with the leadership of the country. 
“I have still not made up my mind, I have not yet discussed this with anyone, we have not spoken of it. […] I believe that I have fulfilled my mission.

Kadyrov’s term as leader ends in March, as he was appointed March 5, 2011.

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick