After the unexpected end of one of Russia’s most important politicians, tens of thousands gathered to mourn opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. People came with even-numbered carnations and roses, one popular tradition in Russia for when someone is commemorated.
According to Russian media, more than 56,000 gathered on Sunday, March 1 to what was initially planned as a march focused on public dissatisfaction in regards to the ever growing inflation, the modest wages and Russia’s implication in the Ukraine conflicts. At first, the march had Mr. Nemtsov as organizer and the event was supposed to be called “March of Spring”. Instead, people showed up for a vigil.
Boris Y. Nemtsov was shot dead on Friday Feb. 27 near Red Square. Up until now, there is only one known witness, Mr. Nemtsov’s girlfriend, Anna Duritskaya, a Ukrainian model.
According to her lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, she was not allowed to return to her home in Ukraine but that she was not being detained. It appears Duritskaya did not want police protection but that she was kept in the Russian capital under guard.
A close friend of Mr. Nemtsov, Ilya Yashin, considers that this goes against Ms. Duritskaya’s rights. He added that she refused to go into the witness protection program and that, without her consent, “she cannot be guarded.”
The people who attended the vigil were from various political parties and movements. The number of attendees was close to that of past rallies, like the “white ribbon” protests that were held three years ago and organized by the late Mr. Nemtsov.
Since the beginning of Putin’s second presidency in 2012, the Russian opposition had quickly diminished and the country became entangled in the Ukraine conflicts, which broke out in 2014. Some of the people in Sunday’s crowd hope that the vigil will be the push Russians needed to revive the Russian opposition.
People marched solemnly from the Slavic Square situated near the banks of the Moskva River, past the Kremlin to the place where Mr. Nemtsov was shot. One of the marchers had a sign that read: “Boris, we will continue your work”.
Image Source: abc7