Campaign diary

Navalny joins Nemtsov march

Navalny Nemtsov march

Alexei Navalny in the march for Boris Nemtsov in Moscow today. Photo: Kira Yarmysh

by Sarah Hurst

Alexei Navalny was just one of thousands of people who took part in the now-annual march in memory of Boris Nemtsov in Moscow today, ahead of the third anniversary of his murder on February 27. Smaller gatherings were also held in many cities around Russia. Other opposition politicians also participated in Moscow, including Ksenia Sobchak, Grigory Yavlinsky, Mikhail Kasyanov and Ilya Yashin, who led chants of “Our name is Boris Nemtsov!”

Police only made a handful of arrests and soon released the people they took in. People marched peacefully along the designated route leading to Academic Sakharov Prospekt, and afterwards brought flowers to the bridge on which Nemtsov was shot dead late in the evening, in front of the Kremlin. Volunteers have tried to protect this makeshift memorial, but it has been cleared away by city authorities many times, and one volunteer, Ivan Skripnichenko, died last August after being punched in the face.

Heroes don’t die

Groups of marchers of all ages held banners saying “Heroes don’t die. We will win” and “Payback is inevitable! We won’t forget, we won’t forgive,” as well as signs with pictures of Nemtsov and his quotes, and Russian flag signs with bullet holes in them and the phrase “No words”. Three marchers held signs in English that said “Killed in view of the Kremlin,” “And the man behind it all is still free?” and “How come, chief Putin?” In St. Petersburg some people held up a banner saying “Crimea is Ukraine” and a man was detained for holding a Ukrainian flag.

When Nemtsov was killed Navalny was serving a 15-day prison sentence for giving out leaflets advertising a spring march that Nemtsov had also been promoting. The march never happened because of the murder, but was replaced with a march mourning Nemtsov. Five Chechens were convicted of Nemtsov’s murder last year, but most of Nemtsov’s supporters believe Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov and probably also Vladimir Putin himself were behind the killing.

Nemtsov was a governor of Nizhny Novgorod and deputy prime minister in the 1990s, but during the Putin era he became one of the Russian leader’s most outspoken critics and was detained multiple times at protests. From 2013 he was a regional legislator in Yaroslavl Oblast. He was also one of the few Russian politicians to speak in support of Ukraine after the annexation of Crimea, and was with a Ukrainian girlfriend when he was killed.

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