Today’s ghastly news includes the sad passing of Boris Nemtsov of Russia. Nemtsov was once upon a time a golden, favored politician, a darling of the Westernizers and the West. This all happened under the long-ago reign of Boris Yeltsin. Since leaving the seat of power, where he was a deputy prime minister, he has hounded the various governments and Putin for the corruption of the government, for incompetence, and for various abuses of human rights. He was gunned down on a public Moscow street while chatting away with a Ukrainian citizen. The Ukrainian was unharmed. Nemtsov was supposedly about to announce earth-shattering proof that Russia was responsible for creating the separatist movement in Donbass, as if we need an investigation to believe it. God help us if he was relying on Ukrainian government information in seeking the truth of things.
First reaction: wow, Putin murdered the guy. And that is exactly what I think you are expected to think. Putin foe, opposition rally, assassination.
On the other hand…what if it wasn’t Putin or his government?
Here are the possibilities and not necessarily in order of likelihood: a) Putin ordered the killing to prevent Nemtsov from stirring up the next day’s protest; b) a killing was ordered by another non-official enemy of Nemtsov to pay him back for perceived treachery to Russia; c) he was killed by somebody else for entirely non-political reasons; d) the Ukrainian government had him assassinated to provoke a Russia Maidan and the collapse of Putin/Russia; e) one of the east European countries of NATO connived to have him assassinated to create a Russian Maidan and the collapse of Putin/Russia; f) the US covert services set up the contract killing to implicate Putin on the eve of a big protest thus provoking a Russian Maidan and the collapse of Putin/Russia.
With regard to option a, it strikes me as implausible that Putin would choose such an obvious “assassination” if he wanted to eliminate the pesky Nemtsov. (Nemtsov, by the way, was a bit of a has-been and had been eclipsed by such activists as Alexander Navalny.) Putin would arrange an accident that really looked like an accident. This was an act intended to maximize impact at a moment of anti-Russian hysteria in the west and anti-western (especially anti-US/NATO) hysteria in Russia. It was aimed at “the Russian state” as one Russian commentator said, and Nemtsov was the unfortunate route to a political goal: chaos in Russia. Here’s another thing I find provocative: he was out walking with a Ukrainian woman, perhaps as part of his “investigation” into Russian official involvement in events in eastern Ukraine. If someone wanted to know where Nemtsov was they had an accomplice. Still, in this land of mirrors — it is just possible that Putin had him killed to allow him to show that it was a foreign hand and thus crack down on opposition politics. I doubt it, but it could be.
As with Putin, I do not entirely rule out the possibility that US covert services were involved in some way in planning the action but think it unlikely. It is entirely possible, however, that some American or two may have known that this was going to happen and offered tacit encouragement.
It is possible this was a free-lance nut who hated Nemtsov, or who was owed money by Nemtsov, or by a political group opposed to Putin. All such things are within the realm of possibility.
I think thusly: there is a foreign hand involved. Not in the shooting itself, although the assassin could be Ukrainian, but certainly in the planning. It is suspicious that the Ukrainian companion was unhurt. Makes me think maybe she was part of it. I think the foreign hand is most likely Ukrainian and others, take your pick: Poles, Lithuanians, Latvians, Estonians, even the rash of Georgians now staffing the Ukrainian government. Mikhail Saakashvili,former Georgian president and invader of S. Ossetia, got his ass kicked by the Russians and has been nurtured since being voted out of office by the USG through various agencies. Now at US urging he is advising Ukrainian President Poroshenko. This is so insane that I can only shake my head. Will the crazy Georgian advise Poroshenko, perhaps, to try to take back Crimea and Donbass by force? Then call in NATO to help? Anything is possible.
Putin has condemned the killing and ordered top judicial and prosecutorial officials to conduct an immediate investigation. He has insisted it is a provocation. He is not alone in thinking so. Even prominent opposition members think it stinks of an effort aimed at Russian stability above all. Irina Kakhamada, a Japanese-Russian politician and Nemtsov ally, echoed that thought. It’s a provocation that is clearly not in Putin’s interests, it’s aimed at rocking the situation,” she said in remarks carried by RIA Novosti news agency. Kakhamada also shared the view expressed by others that the atmosphere of tension with Ukraine and NATO has heightened domestic tensions and that this killing could be a result of that.
But you can be sure of one thing, the USG and the US media will be pounding away on the anti-Putin message and make the most of this incident. If it wasn’t manufactured by the west, it is pure manna from heaven.