Putin, Nemtsov’s Murder, And The Russian Opposition

On February 27 of this year, Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot and killed as he walked in Moscow near the Kremlin. According to this article, Russian investigators have said that Nemtsov may have been a “sacrificial victim.”

The first possibility, the Investigative Committee said, was that the murder was aimed at destabilizing the political situation in the country and Nemtsov was a “sacrificial victim for those who do not shun any method for achieving their political goals.”

This suggestion echoed comments by Putin’s spokesman and other Russian politicians that the attack was a “provocation” against the state.

The term “sacrificial victim” was also the same one Putin used three years ago when he warned that his political opponents were planning to kill one of their own and then blame it on his government.

This idea was so intriguing that I had to research it further. I found this article from February 2012, nearly three years earlier to the date Nemtsov was murdered.

Sounding as if he was quoting from a dusty KGB manual or a bad movie script, Vladi­mir Putin warned Wednesday that his opponents are prepared to murder one of their own so they can blame it on him.


“They are looking for a so-called sacrificial victim among some prominent figures,” Putin, a former KGB agent, told a gathering of the All-Russia Popular Front, a group organized to support him. “They will knock him off, I beg your pardon, and then blame the authorities for that.”

If you’re curious about other theories of who did it, this article has a summary of the five most popular. One of them has been discussed here. The other is that Putin did it. There are three other interesting ones on the list.

Basically, I find the idea that the opposition had him killed in order to discredit Putin to be so fascinating that I want to stick it in a spy novel that I someday plan to write. It may not be accurate at all in real life, but you can’t deny it makes for great fiction.