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HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR ANCHOR: For more now on the shooting death of Russian
opposition leader Boris Nemtsov — reporter Andrew Kramer has been following the story for The New York Times. He joins
us via Skype from Moscow.
So, for our American audience, who was he?
ANDREW KRAMER, THE NEW YORK TIMES: He was a very influential politician in the 1990s, very dashing, handsome,
up-and-comer under President Boris Yeltsin.
He embodied the hopes for democratic reform in post-Soviet period in Russia.
He was the governor of a region, Nizhny Novgorod region, and then moved into national politics.
Under President Putin, he was in the opposition, and he was part of a very small and beleaguered community of opponents
of Mr. Putin, sometimes standing on the street holding signs, just with a few people.
HARI SREENIVASAN: And put in perspective for us, if you can, how he rose to prominence as a dissident.
He got condolences from world leaders after he was killed last night.
ANDREW KRAMER: That’s right. He was a very high-placed politician under President Yeltsin in the
1990s, and many of his colleagues from that time went into business or dropped out of public view but he, in contrast, dived
into opposition politics and he was arrested a number of times.
Amnesty International had counted him a prisoner of conscience. He was very high profile. Often traveled to Europe and
met with world leaders.
So, it’s not a surprise that when this happened, there was quite a bit of support and outpouring of condolences for
his family, from world leaders, including President Obama.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, the question for the investigation now is who is behind the murder, right? I mean,
this was– it says it looks like a contract hit. But who has motives to kill him?
ANDREW KRAMER: The police have put out a number of theories today. Some of them are not considered very
They had said that maybe Islamic militants were involved, or that the opposition had itself organized his murder as a way
to create a martyr and invigorate their cause.
Mr. Nemtsov’s own colleagues have pointed the finger at the Kremlin and at the security services here in Russia.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, what does this do to any of the opposition? Is there an opportunity for them to
ANDREW KRAMER: There’s a potential for that happening. The opposition has been very fractured and
Now, they’ve agreed to unite for a memorial march tomorrow in Moscow. We’ll see going forward how significant
this event is. But many people here think that it’s pivotal.
This is a galvanizing and searing experience for the opposition. And now, there is a rallying cry to continue to support
the causes that he had lived for.
HARI SREENIVASAN: So, how closely will the West be watching what happens next?
ANDREW KRAMER: Very closely. This is being seen as a pivotal moment for Russian politics.
Some are saying this suggests a return of fear to Russian politics, even of terror. This is really a new horizon for what’s
We’ve had dissidents arrested before. We’ve had them go into exile, and we’ve had journalists and human
rights workers, obviously, die under mysterious circumstances.
But this was a senior member of the Russian government in the 1990s, and he was shot very theatrically right in front of
HARI SREENIVASAN: All right. Andrew Kramer of The New York Times, joining us via Skype from Moscow —
thanks so much.
ANDREW KRAMER: Thank you.
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leader Nemtsov mean for the West? appeared first on PBS NewsHour.