Thousands of people took to the streets in Moscow on March 1 carrying portraits of Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition politician and former deputy prime minister who was shot dead by unknown assailants on Friday.
The murder, which is now being termed as a “turning point in Russia’s history,” reportedly took place a few hours after Nemtsov denounced Russian President Vladimir Putin's "mad, aggressive" policies in a radio interview.
Protesters marched in honor of the murdered opposition leader, who was once a strong contender to succeed Boris Yeltsin as the president of Russia in 2000.
While many are holding Kremlin responsible for Nemtsov’s assassination – the details of which remain mysterious – Putin condemned the shooting, saying “it may have been a contract killing.” The president is also leading an investigation “to bring perpetrators to justice,” according to Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s statement to the main U.N. human rights forum.
This is not the first time that Putin is blamed for the murder of an opposition leader or a dissident. There’s a long list of his critics who died under “mysterious” circumstances. Five of them have been listed below:
The anti-corruption Russian lawyer and accountant alleged there had been a large-scale theft from the Russian state carried out by Russian officials, including members of the judiciary, tax officers and even the mafia.
Magnitsky was jailed in 2008 and held without trial for 11 months. He died under suspicious circumstances in November 2009.
Almost five years after his death, one of his colleagues, William Browder, alleged that Magnitsky was beaten to death by Putin’s people.
Anna Stepanovna Politkovskaya was a prominent Russian journalist, writer and activist known for her reporting on human rights abuses in the embattled North Caucasus region. The 48-year-old was found shot dead in a lift at her apartment block in Moscow in 2006.
Although five men were sentenced for her murder last year, the mastermind behind the assassination was never identified.
Alexei Devotchenko, a famous Russian actor and vocal critic of Putin, was found dead at his home in Moscow in November 2014.
Police suspected foul play during the initial investigation of his case, however, the exact circumstances of his death remain unclear.
While some Russian news outlets reported he was discovered by a friend “in a pool of blood” in his apartment, others claimed he was found outside his home.
A former KGB and Federal Security Service spy, Alexander Litvinenko was killed in November 2006 by radioactive polonium-210 poisoning.
In 2000, claiming persecution, he fled to Britain where he became a vocal critic of the Kremlin.
During a public inquiry into the death of Litvinenko at the high court in London, his widow, Marina, alleged that her husband had been the victim of a “horrifying” political assassination planned by Putin.
A self-exiled oligarch, Boris Berezovsky was found dead, lying on his bathroom floor with a "ligature around his neck" in England in 2013.
He was Alexander Litvinenko’s associate and also left Russia in 2000 after falling out with Vladimir Putin – his former protégé.
Although it was reported that Berezovsky committed suicide, his daughter, Elizaveta Berezovskaya, told a judicial inquiry that her father was “killed for criticizing Putin.”