As It Happens

Boris Nemtsov's daughter says probe into her dissident father's murder 'blocked for political reasons'

It's been more than a year since Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot to death in Moscow. Arrests have been made, but many believe justice won't be done until those that ordered the hit are held to account.
Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, speaks to the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Every day on a Moscow bridge, a small group of supporters still keep a vigil for Boris Nemtsov. A little more than a year ago, on that same spot, the Russian opposition leader was shot dead.

After an investigation, police arrested five men from Chechnya. They will face trial later this year as suspected contract killers. But many don't believe the case is closed.

People lay flowers at the place where Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down a year ago, marking the anniversary of his killing, in Moscow, Russia, Feb. 27, 2016. More than 20,000 people marched across down town Moscow in memory of the slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov to mark the first anniversary of his killing. A poster shows a portrait of Boris Nemtsov and reads "The destiny of the country is dearer than life." (Pavel Golovkin/AP)

Zhanna Nemtsova is Boris Nemtsov's daughter. She left Russia after threats to her own life and is now a journalist working in Germany.
She joined As It Happens guest host Helen Mann in studio to talk about her ongoing fight to get justice for her father. Here is part of their conversation.
Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of slain Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, speaks to the Associated Press in Moscow, Russia, on Tuesday, April 7, 2015. (Ivan Sekretarev/AP)

Helen Mann: You still have many questions about who murdered your father. What is outstanding for you?

Zhanna Nemtsova: The problem with the investigation: it is blocked. I think now it is blocked for political reasons. So high-ranking politicians put pressure on the investigative team not to investigate it thoroughly and objectively. I can only cite Vladimir Putin, who said just after the assassination, he said "I take this investigation under my personal control." So when he said it, he took the responsibility for the quality of this investigation and the quality is awful. The second thing is that I filed lots of publications. I wanted to question Ramzan Kadyrov, the ruler of Chechnya, because I understand Chechnya is a state in a state — so it's a totalitarian state in Russia.

People gather to commemorate the 2015 slaying of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, Feb. 27, 2016. (Dmitri Lovetsky/AP)

HM: And we should make clear, Kadyrov is a close ally of Mr. Putin.

ZN:  He is very loyal to Putin. Once he said, "I'm a soldier of Putin. He's my commander. If he asks me to do anything, I will do anything for him." I would like to question him, to interrogate him and his closest allies. Because you know it's a clan system. Everybody is linked together.

HM:  But he admits he knows those people, he denies links to your father's murder and he actually has suggested that your supporters and you look closer to home. What do you think you mean by that?

ZN:  I will tell you, of course, it's nonsense. He had lots of versions. He said that it might be people from Ukraine. Then he said they're traced to the State Department of the United States. I don't take it very seriously. I take seriously the fact that he threatened the leaders of opposition. Several weeks ago, there were death threats that appeared on his Instagram. And I think that these actions could serve as an indirect proof of his probable involvement into the assassination of my father.
A sniper's target is super-imposed on Russian opposition politicians Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Kara-Murza in this screen grab taken from a video posted on Ramzan Kadyrov's Instagram account. (Instagram)
He thought very seriously about imprisonment and he was ready to take this risk. But he had never thought about being killed. Of course, I believe that it would have been better for him if he had left Russia.- Zhanna Nemtsova on her late father, Boris Nemtsov

HM: I want to get back to what happened to your father and what you think the motive was and also the timing. Why was he killed when he was and, of course, why?

ZN: I believe that was a politically-motivated assassination. It's of course a very high-profile assassination for modern Russia. So I think the only motive is a political motive and there is no one thing. He was killed because he wanted to publish a report on the Ukraine. Because of his general activities as the leader of the opposition. He adhered to his principles. He was the most outspoken critic of Putin and his system. He was the author for many anti-corruption reports. He got elected in the regional parliament of Yaroslavl Oblast region and out of there he could run for the State Duma and he would have won, I believe. So he was the most-recognized opposition leader in Russia.

This interview was edited for length and clarity.


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