The brazen murder of Boris Nemtsov and its subsequent investigation demonstrate the nature and fragility of the Russian political regime, analysts Lili Shevtsova and David Kramer write for the American Interest:
Alive, Nemtsov was the politician who succeeded more than most in cajoling and bringing together different segments of the opposition. His demise has left a gaping hole still felt by the Kremlin’s opponents, who are also coming under growing threat and intimidation. At the same time, Boris provided the symbol of resistance and consolidation for the Russian dissent and opposition movement.
Nemtsov’s murder has largely broken the opposition, but the new atmosphere of fear that it created is only half the story. Daria Litvinova writes for the Moscow Times:
Nemtsov’s great strength was as a unifying figure — always pushing for different opposition movements, parties and alliances to come together. Now that he is gone, such unity is under pressure. ….With “the moderator” absent, the opposition was unable to run on a single ticket across all elections to regional legislatures last year…. Navalny’s Party of Progress, Kasyanov’s PARNAS party and several other parties formed the Democratic Coalition, which put forward joint candidates for the regional parliaments of Novosibirsk, Kostroma, Magadan and Kaluga. In Kaluga, however, they faced competition from another opposition party, Civil Initiative, that refused to be part of the coalition…..
“It became much more difficult to negotiate with different parties and movements without him — he was the moderator,” said Dmitry Gudkov, the only remaining independent State Duma deputy.
According to the seasoned political analyst Gleb Pavlovsky, the Kremlin has demonstrated fallibility that may well offer opportunities for the opposition, Litvinova adds:
In his view, Nemtsov’s murder was a sign that authorities are weak and “unable control certain forces inside the country.” Pavlovsky told The Moscow Times that he believed the opposition had “failed to respond adequately” to such a signal. “Will the opposition become a force strong enough to respond in future? That is the question to be answered,” he said.