Thousands march to mourn slain Boris Nemtsov

Thousands of people marched in Moscow on Sunday to mourn slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov. Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot and killed late Friday. He was due to speak at a major anti-government rally in Marino, on the outskirts of the city, on Sunday. His supporters are honoring him by marching to the spot where he was killed. Thousands were also marching in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second largest city.635607905558739447-AFP-538428600

Organizer Leonid Volkov said: “The march in the Marino district which we had planned — a positive march with flags and balloons — does not fit this tragic moment and the magnitude of Nemtsov’s persona, as well as the magnitude of the red line we have now crossed and which we have not yet recognized,” the Guardian reported. On Saturday, thousands of people lit candles and laid flowers on the bridge where Nemtsov was shot.

Putin has condemned the killing and took personal control of the investigation, according to his spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. He said it may have been intended as a provocation ahead of the march. Nemtsov, 55, who served as first deputy prime minister under the late President Boris Yeltsin, was shot four times in the back from a passing car in the shadow of the Kremlin as he walked with a female friend across a bridge in central Moscow about 11:40 p.m., the Interior Ministry said. At least seven shots were fired by several assailants. His companion was not hurt.

The hunt for his killer continues. His lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said Nemtsov had told police about threats he had received on social networks, but authorities did nothing to protect him. A police source said it appeared to be a “contract killing.” Quoting an unidentified source, Interfax said authorities were looking at various theories for the murder “ranging from political activity to personal enmity.” The source also suggested that the killing could be an “act of provocation” in the run-up to the opposition rally.