Monday, March 2, 2015

The Same Old Price of Opposition in Russia

The headline might as well have read, “Boris Nemstov has committed suicide” by taking four bullets in the back as he crossed a bridge in plain sight in Moscow. It’s a heinous senseless assassination, one that will never be solved and for which no one is likely to be punished. It sinks Russia deeper in conspiracy theories and mysteries fit for fiction books. However, they keep finding their way to news headlines instead.

It appears that Nemstov “has committed suicide” by calling for a march this Sunday to protest Russia’s war in Ukraine. This highlights his loud opposition of President Putin and his policies there. This is not to say that Putin has anything to do with the assassination. The Russian president has already condemned the murder and has ordered an investigation. To add suspense to the mystery, unnamed Russian “officials” have given statements to tabloids claiming a model and Islamic extremism are to blame for Nemstov’s violent death.

This is a classic case for unresolved crime. It would seem unimaginable that President Putin would order or approve such an obvious assassination. In the same token, it would be irresponsible to think that it’s a coincidence that Nemstov shares the same violent fate with many others who also happened to be avid Putin critics. The plot and the plot twist guarantee any investigation leads nowhere.

So it goes from here. The killer is a conveniently “unidentified gunman.” The sight of the crime is a public bridge in plain view of the Kremlin. “There is no clear motive for the killing” will be countered by “the killing took place because of his opposition.” Media will focus on the story briefly then drop it when the next big story takes over. With Mr. Putin’s condemnation and quick investigation into the murder, the truth is guaranteed to be the second victim in this latest violent act.

That leaves the opposition in Russia as well as any opposition to authoritarian regimes, dictatorships, militancy, or any other form of power, speechless and feeling helpless. It does not matter who you are, or how popular you are and how right or wrong you are. You oppose power, and your fate is drawn for you. If you dare oppose the status quo, consider that you committed suicide!

Whether intentional or not, Russia sends a clear message to brave freedom fighters everywhere. The price of opposition will cost you your life!


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