The murder of Nemtsov, or will a catharsis follow the shock? A politician is always exposed to professional risks. This is true not only in Russia but for any place in the world, even in the most democratic and peaceful countries. Boris Nemtsov (ed. – he was Russia’s leading opposition figure) knew that very well and he was ready to play it hard and to die young. However, for most of us this murder came as a shock. For quite some time we have not witnessed an assassination of a prominent opposition leader. Moreover, the outrageous crime was committed not in an empty backyard somewhere in a Moscow suburb, but in the very heart of the city, literally in front of the entrance to the Kremlin. I think that shock was genuine and general, shared not only by those of us who were acquainted with Boris, but by the public at large as well as by many in power.
The question is whether the shock is followed by catharsis. For the opposition, the implied catharsis would be that numerous personal ambitions, tactical disagreements and old quarrels will be put aside in order to finally put together a strong and consolidated alliance that can become a significant factor in Russian political life. For those in power, the catharsis would mean a readiness to think again about the fog of hatred, intolerance and witch hunting that has descended upon the country, since in this poisonous fog generated by state controlled media it is much easier to commit the most appalling political crimes, if not to get away with them. The chances for such catharsis are not high in Russia today, but neither is it zero. And I am absolutely sure that Boris Nemtsov would not ask for a better legacy to leave behind.