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Who Killed Nemtsov, by Israel Shamir

Thealleged killers of Boris Nemtsov are apprehended, and they are (a dramaticpause) some Muslims from Chechnya who allegedly desired to punish thepolitician for his Je suis Charlie position.There is no official report available yet, but this implausible version isbeing promoted in Moscow. What’s that, a poor man’s 9/11? Indeed the Russianpolitician’s assassination seems to be produced by the same great studio thatgave us 9/11, Boston marathon, Charlie killings. These crimes in New York,Boston, Paris and now Moscow have two common features: Muslims are accused ofcommitting them, and there is a very strong and widely spread lack of belief inthis accusation and in the details of the crime as published.

These doubtfulcrimes have an additional common quality: their striking visual aspect. Nemtsov’sdeath wasn’t on the Twin Towers scale, but the flamboyant playboy and anopposition politician was dispatched in style. Fluffy snow falling upon thebridges over Moscow River with brightly-lit polychrome domes of St Basil’sCathedral and the red crenelated walls of Kremlin provided a perfectbackground. Add six bullets, a white American car the assassins used to fleethe scene, and a Ukrainian beauty model Anna, 23, stooping over the prostratedbody of her dead lover, and you’ll get a haunting picture Raymond Chandlercould script and Howard Hawks direct. Or perhaps James Cameron of the Titanicwould be a better choice.

A tingeof envy may be felt in my description. Nemtsov had a charming life, and abeautiful timely death, too. A young physics graduate, he was elevated by therevolution of 1991, made a governor of a major city, a deputy prime minister, aclaimant to presidency, a dollar millionaire. Since 2000, his life in politicswent downhill by virtue of his previous success. Nemtsov was generally consideredan enabler of the grand larceny of Russia by the oligarchs, a promoter of“robber privatisation”. This was confirmed by MrPonomaryev MP, his friend and a prominent oppositionist. Some Yeltsin’s cadresretained important positions in Putin’s Russia to this very day, but Nemtsovwas not among them.

Hisattempts to get elected a mayor or a parliament member all failed. He hadlittle to do, but to enjoy life, womanising, drinking, dining and nursing his resentmentof Putin he was on first-name-terms with. Still, he wasn’t bitter but cheerful.At 55, he was a has-been, nothing to expect, but going to demos and repeating thesame dreary slogan of Down with Putin as he did on the US-owned andfinanced channels. He was killed Friday night, and on Sunday he wassupposed to go to Maryino, a dreary suburb of Moscow, to demonstrate againstinflation. The assassination saved him from this tedious task: he died stillyoungish, still slim and lithe, still a curly gypsy boy, in the arms of adelectable young thing.

Hisdeath also saved the demo, a first pro-Western demo in Moscow for months, from theexpected debacle. Not many people were supposed to come, the white-bandmovement was practically gone. With his death, the Sunday demo was cancelledand instead, a mourning march took place that attracted some fifty thousandcitizens, a respectable number. However, the march was peaceful, and no violentconfrontations issued.

TheWestern mainstream media went to full attack mode, like they did at theMalaysian airliner crash. They accused Putin for sending his henchmen to kill,for he was afraid of Nemtsov’s political clout. This story could work forexternal use only: Russians would never believe that Putin sent the killers. Itis not his style. And Nemtsov was not a threat to anybody. Internally, pro-WesternRussian media said that Putin is responsible for Nemtsov’s death because heignited hatred to “the fifth column”.

Actually,there is much of mutual hatred between ordinary Russians and pro-Westernopposition. The oppositionists call their fellow citizens “vermin” and “rednecks”(“vata”), claiming in rather racist way that they belongto different species. Their chances to gain power by elections are nil. Theyare useful for Putin, as they solidify his popular support by their hatred. Heis aware of it, and he is not likely to kill these useful props.

Many Russiansbelieve (on the qui bono basis) the killing being ordered by Nemtsov’scompetitors within the pro-Western opposition, such as Mr Khodorkovsky, aruthless oligarch with many dead bodies at his trail and nine years of jailbehind his back. But majority ascribes the murder to the Western secret servicesattempting to destabilise Russia.

Russiais not an Arab state, but the organisers of Nemtsov’s assassination could forgetthis geographic fact. During the Arab Spring, killing of an opposition figureinvariably triggered popular uprising in the capital, the uprising caused aharsh government response, more bloodshed, international condemnation,government collapse and establishment of a new ruler, more pleasing to therevolution sponsors. This routine was scripted in the booklet by Gene Sharp,the wise man of NED (The National Endowment for Democracy), a semi-clandestinebranch of the US intelligence in charge of “colour revolutions”.

Youcan’t always rely upon generosity of the government, oppressive it may be, thatthey will kill a right sort of person in the right time and place. That’s why les forces obscuresbehind the revolutions prefer to make the killing themselves and blame in onthe government. This is called a ‘sacrifice routine’. An improved form of the sacrificescript was activated in the Ukraine last year, when few dozen activists wereshot by mysterious snipers. The snipers disappeared, but internationalcondemnation led to the President’s flight, and to the coup d’état,establishing pro-Western nationalist regime.

Russianswere wise to this scheme. During the 2011 wave of unrest, the government wascautious to create no martyrs, and the revolutionary crowd was timid enough tocomply. Now, in 2015, there was no visible reason for worry. Vast majority(86%) of Russians support the President, while pro-Western opposition dwindled. The activists were lazy and greedy, theWestern emissaries said. They were angry at the opposition leaders for nottrying hard enough to remove Putin. If you take our cookies you should do somework for us, this line was attributed to the State Department people in Moscow.John Tefft, the US Ambassador to Russia, was widely quoted as saying a weekbefore the assassination, that “Messrs Navalny and Nemtsov will make a greatcontribution to our cause in the nearest future”. Mr Alexey Navalny, the mostvisible opposition leader, avoided “making a contribution” by getting himselfimprisoned for a small offence for the crucial week. Perhaps he got the hint,people say.

Anyway,while the mourning and the funeral did not cause any breach of peace, the marchdid not turn into a Maidan or Tahrir, and Bernard Henri Levi did not land onthe Red Square, the Putin’s government got cold feet. For a long eight daysRussian police looked for the murderers, and meanwhile the Yeltsin’s cadres,people of nineties assaulted Putin from within and the Western media andofficials from without. President Putin is not a Genghis Khan, he is a non-confrontationalbloke whose great ambition is to live in peace and harmony with the West whiledefending Russia’s vital interests, and observing interests of Russia’swealthies and worthies. He also wants to be accepted as an equal among theworld’s great, East and West. His desire to be popular and accepted abroadnever reached the sick extreme of Mikhail Gorbachev or Anwar as-Sadat, but hewas upset the Western public being convinced he personally shot Nemtsov fromhis bedroom window in Kremlin for the heck of it. Discovering the assassins ofNemtsov received their brief from a Mrs Nuland of this world would never passthe muster in the West.

“Muslimextremists” are patsies nobody can reasonably object to. If they killedcartoonists in Paris and dropped the Towers in New York, they could kill a minorpolitician in Moscow. Prescient Mr Eduard Limonov, a writer and arevolutionary, predictedthis choice on March, 3d:  “the Russianadministration would prefer Nemtsov being killed by an Islamic extremist. It ismost improbable, but this version would allow to get close to the West. Islamicextremists are a common enemy... Russia wants to get closer to the West whilepreserving its own dignity. And what could be better for this purpose than a stillwarm dead body of a common victim killed by a common enemy?”

Thisversion is not entirely fanciful: Russia’s pro-West liberal opposition isIslamophobe and Zionist. Late Mr Nemtsov was true to form: he hated ‘gooks’,spoke in favour of Charlie Hebdo, supported Israel’s bombardment ofGaza, and had a nice old Jewish mother. In his last text he referred to Russia’sFBI as ‘filth’ and suggested they should go and fight Islamic terrorists inChechnya instead of bothering liberals. (A macho man, he described Putin’sparty as ‘buggers’ in this interview).

Nemtsovwas not worse than any other leader of Russia’s liberal opposition.Khodorkovsky (now the leader) called upon every Russian newspaper to print a dailyProphet Muhammad cartoon; Echo Moskvy Ganapolsky calledMuslims “non-human”; the voice of the opposition Makarevich went to Israel tosupport Liberman, the far-right Jewish nationalist; Julia Latynina blessedJewish cannons destroying Arab vermin of Gaza. Still, one has to start somewhere,supposedly mused the “Muslim extremists” and started with Mr Nemtsov .

Manypeople doubt this version. Are they “truthers”? ‘Truthers’ are not a small sectanymore: people disbelieve what they are told, they distrust pictures they arebeing shown and they reject explanations being given. But the Russian Truthersare embraced by the Western media that shied from the Western Truthers. VladimirMilov, a leading oppositionist questioned thedetails of Nemtsov’s assassination in much the same vein as Truthers doubtedthe Charlie or Marathon killings. He arrived to the same conclusion as Truthers:killings were done by Secret Services. But in a CNNinterview, Christiane Amanpour calls a Russian politician Sergey Markov “aconspiracy theorist” for refusing to accept Russian Truthers’ version ofevents. So your freedom fighter is my terrorist, while your official version ismy conspiracy theory.

WillNemtsov’s murder have an impact on developments in Russia? It is plausible thatPutin will try to be more accommodating towards the West and towards Kievregime. The Russians are worried that pro-Western neoliberal party will regainthe positions they lost after 2000, and dead Nemtsov will indeed be more usefulfor his cause than alive one.