An outspoken critic of Vladamir Putin who was gunned down Friday in Moscow expressed concern earlier this month that the Russian president would have him killed.
Boris Nemtsov, a leader in RPR-PARNAS, the Republican Party of Russia, was shot to death by gunmen in a passing car as he was walking with a female companion near Moscow’s Red Square, according to various reports.
It is too early to discern the motive behind the death, though speculation abounds that Nemtsov’s opposition to Putin may have had something to do with it. According to USA Today, unidentified sources told Interfax that the shooting appeared to be “a contract killing.”
The 55-year-old Nemtsov, the first deputy prime minister under former president Boris Yeltsin, had become a vocal opponent of Putin’s and had accused him of starting the war against Ukraine. He was also vehemently opposed to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.
Nemstov discussed his fears of assassination at length in an interview earlier this month with ITON TV, a Russian news outlet.
He spoke specifically about his 87-year-old mother’s fears at the prospect.
“Every time I called her, she laments: ‘When you stop to scold Putin? He will kill you!'” Nemtsov said, according to a translation of the interview.
He went on to say that his mother was “really afraid that he might kill me in the near future because of my performances — both in real life and in social networks.”
Asked if he “began to fear that Putin may you soon kill directly or indirectly,” Nemtsov replied, “you know, yes…a bit.”
“Not as much as my mother, but still…still, I’m not so much afraid of him,” Nemtsov added.
“If I feared very much, it is unlikely that would be headed by an opposition party, is unlikely to be involved in what I do.”
“I hope all the same common sense will prevail and Putin will not kill you,” the interviewer said.
“God bless, and I hope,” Nemtsov responded.