Moscow, Feb 28:
Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in downtown Moscow on Friday-Saturday night with four shots fired from a handgun from a passing car, law enforcement agencies said.
According to preliminary data, an unknown assailant fired at Nemtsov when the latter was walking along the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge.
Nemtsov was a co-chair of the RPR-Parnas party. He had held a number of government positions in the 1990s.
Russia’s Investigative Committee has opened a criminal case into the killing under Articles 105 (murder) and 222 (illegal arms turnover) of the Russian Criminal Code
and an investigation is under way.
Russian interior ministry spokeswoman Yelena Alexeyeva said Saturday six bullet cartridges have been recovered at the site where Nemtsov was killed.
“Six cartridges have been found at the site. Four bullets hit Boris Nemtsov,” Alexeyeva told journalists.
A law enforcement source said the murderer of Nemtsov had been spying on him.
Alexeyeva said a manhunt is under way for the attacker who escaped in a white car, the make of which has not been named in the interests of the investigation.
“Nemtsov was walking with his female acquaintance who had arrived from Ukraine. They were strolling from St. Basil’s Cathedral toward the Bolotnaya Square,” she said.
Investigators are currently questioning the woman who was walking with him at the time of the murder, but her identity has not been disclosed.
Senior aide to the head of the Main Investigative Department in Moscow, Yulia Ivanova, told TASS news agency that investigators were considering all versions while probing the murder and did not rule out a contract killing.
Russian President Vladimir Putin was “immediately informed of Nemtsov’s murder in Moscow,” and “the head of state instructed heads of the Russian Investigative Committee, interior ministry and Federal Security Service (FSB) to establish an investigative group and personally control the course of the crime’s investigation”, Putin’s spokesman said Saturday.
“Putin noted that the violent murder bears the marks of a contract killing and is purely provocative,” Dmitry Peskov said.
“The Russian president expresses deep condolences to the near and dear of Boris Nemtsov,” Peskov said.
Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has expressed deep and sincere condolences to the near and dear of Nemtsov, Medvedev’s spokeswoman Natalya Timakova said Saturday.
Deputy Speaker of the State Duma, the lower house of Russia’s parliament, Sergey Neverov, said Saturday lawmakers will thoroughly follow the investigation into the murder of Nemtsov.
“I express condolences to all near and dear of Boris Nemtsov. I knew him personally as deputy prime minister in charge of the fuel and energy sector, as a deputy of the third-convocation State Duma. He was a lawmaker at the Yaroslavl regional duma,” Neverov said.
“This was an insolent crime committed in the center of Moscow. And as State Duma lawmakers, we will closely follow the course of the investigation and I don’t doubt the criminals will be identified and brought to justice,” he said.
Yabloko party leader Sergey Mitrokhin called on President Putin to take Nemtsov’s murder under personal control.
“This monstrous crime is connected with Boris Nemtsov’s political activity. This is a challenge to the opposition and the country’s leadership,” he said.
Former finance minister Alexey Kudrin said Nemtsov’s murder was a tragedy for Russia.
“It should be solved whatever it takes,” Kudrin wrote on his Twitter page.