U.S. media is quick to blame Putin for the assassination of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
But Itina Khakamada – a top ally of Nemtsov in the opposition – said the killing was “clearly not in Putin’s interest. It’s aimed at rocking the situation.”
Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev agrees.
Even the U.S. government’s Voice of America states – in an article entitled “Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?” – that Putin loses much more than he gains by the assassination:
With the murder of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, gunned down on a Moscow street, the fiercest critic of President Vladimir Putin has been removed from the political stage. But it remains to be seen whether, in death as in life, Nemtsov will remain a threat to Putin’s rule.
Already, city authorities have approved a mass march for up to 50,000 people in central Moscow on Sunday. The march, expected to be far larger than the scheduled protest rally it replaces, will provide a powerful platform for Kremlin critics who suspect a government hand in Nemtsov’s death.
Even officials in Putin’s government seem to sense the danger that the former first deputy prime minister’s martyrdom might pose, hinting darkly that Friday night’s drive-by shooting may have been an deliberate “provocation” ahead of the planned weekend rally.