Russian Diaspora Remembers Nemtsov 1 year later
On Saturday, Russians, Ukrainians, Belarusians, and Georgians across North America paid their respects to murdered Russian dissident Boris Nemtsov a year after his grisly assassination.
The various rallies commemorated the fact that Nemtsov was gunned down while walking on the Bolshoy Moskovoretsky bridge in Moscow. Many demonstrators brought signs that read “Nemtsov Bridge”, a clear nod to the opposition’s desire that the bridge be re-named for Nemtsov, or at the very least for a plaque remembering the assassination to be installed on the bridge.
Those who came called for an independent international investigation of the murder, but the Kremlin’s law enforcement authorities refuse to name the organizer and the hirer of a contract killer, instead casting the blame on some Ruslan Mukhutdinov, a personal driver for Ruslan Geremeev.
Geremeev, the second in command officer of the Russian internal troops squadron North, belongs to the mighty Geremeev clan and is a relative of the State Duma deputy Adam Delimkhanov and senator Suleiman Geremeev. The motive of the crime committed allegedly by Mukhutdinov and where he got 15 million rubles from remains to be explained.
In Washington, D.C., activists gathered on Arlington Memorial Bridge. They called on Congress to introduce the “Nemtsov list” submitted to the Congressional leaders last April. There are only eight names in that list, the names of those Russian propagandists who were soliciting to reprisal. The organizers believed that it would be for the benefit of the world media community to support this list, as the Russian propagandists call themselves “journalists” thus dishonoring the real ones.
There was also a proposal put forth to name the plaza opposite the Russian Embassy in Washington Nemtsov Plaza as a reminder to the Kremlin’s authorities.
One of the participants held a poster addressing drivers passing by. It said “Honk if you are for Russia without Putin”, and was well-received.
Ex-candidate for president of Belarus Andrey Sannikov, who did prison time for organizing “public disobedience”, gave a speech. (Sannikov was in Washington with a drive-by visit.) He addressed Nemtsov himself. He spoke about the common struggle for democratic ideals. “Thank you and forgive us,” said Sannikov at the end of his speech. Russian journalists Tikhon Dzyadko and Elena Racheva came to pay homage to Nemtsov.
About 70 people gathered on a main square in San Francisco and marched from there to a bridge. The same calls as in Washington were made at the rally-for an independent international investigation. Some of the participants charged straightforwardly Russian President Putin with this crime, since, as they think, he is responsible, at least, politically for aggravating enmity in Russia. The participants listened to one of Nemtsov’s speeches where he said that “Putin’s problem is that he is cruel and cynic.”
The winner of a beauty pageant in St. Petersburg Viktoria Maladaeva, a Buryat by ethnicity, came to the march. When she won that beauty pageant a couple of years ago, she was bullied on the Internet, as she was of the “wrong” ethnicity and shared oppositional views. Nemtsov supported her on his Facebook page. “He was one of few who supported me straightforwardly, and I’m very grateful to him for that. It’s a pity I didn’t answer him on Facebook personally as I didn’t use this media much that time,” she said.
There were several rallies in New York City that day, next to the Russian Consulate-General, on the Brooklyn Bridge and in Brighton Beach. Those who came to the Consulate-General held the posters with Putin’s pictures signed “Wanted” and “Putin killed our friend”. Observing a moment of silence, the participants marched along 5 Avenue to the Russian mission to the UN.
In Seattle about 25 people gathered on a bridge. “We are outraged that this political murder has not been investigated yet, the killers have not been found and received no punishment for this offence,” Maria Paramonova said.
Similar rallies were held in Boston and Cleveland.
Russians living in Canada held an unorthodox rally. About a year ago, right after Nemtsov was murdered, his sympathizers in Vancouver planted a tree to honor him. This year they gathered near this tree. There were no political statements at the rally, as “it was to honor the people who have deep respect for Nemtsov rather than political rally.”
In Toronto, participants at the rally called for “strictness towards Putin and passing the Magnitsky act in Canada that was brought here by Nemtsov himself.”
“Here, in Canada, we must inherit Nemtsov’s helm,” Stacie Kor said.
Apart from the rally, there was an event dedicated to Nemtsov, the war between Russia and Ukraine, and the general situation in Russia organized in Toronto. The event was organized by a non-for-profit organization called Canadians for Democracy in Russia.
At the rally was a photo exhibition with photos of Nemtsov and the war in Eastern Ukraine that the murdered politician labored to stop.