Fighting For Freedom: Boris Nemtsov Fell Victim To The Kremlin’s Criminal Entourage

October 9, 2017

On the birthday of Boris Nemtsov, Mikhail Khodorkovsky comments on the murder of the courageous Russian politician and the people who stand behind the most shocking political assassination in modern Russian history. 

Today is birthday of a man to whom we can no longer offer our congratulations and wishes for long life and good health.  That man is Boris Nemtsov.

Boris Nemtsov was born on October 9 1959.  From 1990 when he was first elected as a People’s Deputy until February 2015 when Boris was gunned down outside the walls of the Kremlin, he never abandoned his duty to his country.  During these years political fate often caused Nemtsov and Vladimir Putin to cross paths.  They were practically allies at the start of the first Putin presidency, but in the last few years of Boris’s life they had become political enemies.

Their final “meeting” was symbolically connected by the scene of the murder: outside the Kremlin walls, just a few hundred meters from the main entrance to the Kremlin, the Spasskiy Gate (Gate of the Saviour).  If Putin had peered from the window of his Kremlin chambers, he could have witnessed the murder with his own eyes.  How can we forget the sinister aphorism uttered by the Russian president in the wake of the killing: “It wasn’t necessary to kill the man”.

The investigation into the murder quickly reached the highest levels of the Chechen power hierarchy; Ramzan Kadyrov’s trusted bodyguard.

It has long been known that in Moscow there are a series of hotels — at the time it was the “President Hotel”, now there are other, more fashionable ones — which serve as a barracks for trusted (and well armed) fighters loyal to Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Their participation in various operations is no secret; from carrying out protection and racketeering, to extortion.  But until February 2015, event the most virulent opponent of Putin and Kadyrov would not have dared to suggest that the two leaders depend so heavily on each other.

Among the opposition and on social media there is a consensus which lays the blame for the murder on two people in particular: the president of the Republic of Chechnya and/or the president of the Russian Federation.  Both presidents do not exist independently of each other.  Both are part of the same political entity, which when seen from the outside is as clear as day.

This political entity reins unelected in the Russian Federation and exercises total control over the state apparatus.  It goes by the name of “Putin’s entourage”, or “the Kremlin court”, the “politburo” or the “inner circle” – but neither of these titles really captures the immense power that this group possesses.

Boris Nemtsov fought fearlessly against President Putin as a politician and representative of the ruling establishment.  He found himself faced not against a political force, but rather against a criminal enterprise which had usurped power.  Power which is based on controlling the president and exercising influence over him.

Was Putin aware that an elaborate conspiracy was formulating behind his back?  Today we don’t need hypotheses about possible guilt.  What’s important is one simple fact: a criminal gang has made itself at home in the Kremlin’s inner circle.  Its internal relations are not regulated by the law of the President, or the other laws of the Russian Federation.  It’s enough to recall the palace cook Prigozhin who, while distributing dishes at Kremlin dinners was also directing a band of internet trolls while simultaneously in charge of the “Wagner” mercenaries fighting in Syria.

There’s no such thing as “wild Chechnya” – the middle ages are still alive and well in the centre of the Russian capital.  It is a mafia clan of the president’s “friends”.  Some of them can “order” the murder of a politician, others can use the cover of a private company to destroy a Russian minister (the Ulyukaev case), or in front of the eyes of the entire world can blackmail a huge corporation, extorting billions of dollars in compensation.

The 150 billion rubles set aside for the secret presidential fund which are spent through shadowy decrees (next year’s fund is already planned to be two times larger) is trivial in comparison with the fact that the entirety of the Russian Federation’s budget is under the control of a criminal group. Any individual within the entourage has access to colossal sums of resources and money, while being guaranteed absolute impunity. And so ten days after the murder of Boris Nemtsov, the prestigious Order of Honour was awarded to Ramzan Kadyrov while the whole of Russia pointed the finger at him. This is the kind of indulgence we have only read about in history books. This is precisely the kind of thing that Boris Nemtsov fought against for the entirety of his political life.

Today the facade of the election of Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin is being played out before our eyes. This is another a scam from the very same criminal group. The organisation of elections that we are witnessing is not only a parody of the constitution of the Russian Federation: it is a crime against it. The goal is absolutely clear: to transform the entourage that has influence over the president into his sole controller, and then after the inauguration, to become Putin’s collective successor.

What could possibly be more beneficial for a gang of criminals than organising the election of their country’s president? They are merely organising the succession of Putin’s heir. This is the type of government with which Boris Nemtsov spent his life struggling. He was the unsuccessful — luckily for him, unluckily for the country — heir to Boris Yeltsin as the man who in 1997 held the highest ever approval ratings.

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