The Ukraine and now the murder of Boris Nemtsov? What’s happening in Russia?
Everyday we read the news from Russia, we are very relieved for Vera that she has left Russia for good and we’re certain Alisa feels vindicated in her move many times over.
For me, the murder of Nemtsov(photo on the left) brought back memories of Sergey Kirov’s (photo on the right) 1934 murder. In December 1934, Pravda (Truth) alleged it was a young man named Nikolaev who was guilty of killing Kirov and the organs of state successfully captured, tried, and convicted him. But, when Soviet archives were opened in 1994, the truth was not so clear. Nikolaev may have pulled the trigger, but it seems Stalin and the NKVD (forerunner of the KGB) were behind the plot. After playing the role of chief mourner at Kirov’s funeral, Stalin initiated new laws and orders that launched the purges of the 1930s. Why was Kirov a threat? He was popular. He cared for the workers. And now the Mariinsky Ballet Company is the Kirov Ballet Company. The Kirov Stadium, the Kirov Factory, the Kirov Bridge and a number of towns memorialize him.
Although there are parallels between the two deaths, there is a clear difference between the two men’s relationships with the “Supreme Leader” of the day. Kirov thought he and Stalin were on the same team. He had no idea his popularity threatened Stalin. Nemtsov, on the other hand, spoke openly in opposition to Putin’s policies and actions. When I googled the Nemtsov-Kirov connection, I discovered many people had the same association between the two politicians. Will we ever know what really happened even though the Kremlin is promising a full investigation? Or, is this a pretext for Putin to launch his own campaign against perceived Enemies of the State?
Last June we featured Masha Gessen in our author of the month column. We read her memoir of her grandmothers’ lives along with her biography of Putin. We also recommended to readers that they consult her blog to find out what’s happening in Russia. Amidst all the speculation and the pontification, she is an articulate analyst of Russian politics and life. Masha is poised on the outside as a woman, a Jew, and a lesbian but sometimes being on the outside offers the clearest angles and views of a situation. To understand the death of Boris Nemtsov, I suggest turning to Masha Gessen. You can listen to an interview (in English) with Bloomberg News on YouTube or read her article in The New York Times.
Perhaps this time it won’t take sixty years to uncover the truth.