Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, was shot dead on a Moscow street last week. Political opponents in Russia know they are living dangerously. Russian propaganda suppresses contradictory statements and many say the country is ruled by insecurity, suspicion and fear. Is Nemtsov’s assassination symbolic of troubling political developments?
The people of Russia seem to be split into two irreconcilable camps, Putin supporters and his critics. Independent media are almost non-existent in Russia, making it hard for people to form their own political opinions. Critics say the Kremlin is trying to establish a political climate in which people believe anything is possible and are therefore open to wild conspiracy theories.
The fact remains: demonstrators are arrested and taken into custody by the Russian police and Putin opponents receive jail sentences in dubious trials. There has been a series of unsolved murders of government opponents, including journalist Natalya Estemirova and Anna Politkovskaya.
Were the shootings commissioned by the Kremlin? Could Putin benefit from his critics’ deaths? Or are these murders carried out by forces seeking to destabilize the Russian establishment? Perhaps by political extremists who are creating a climate of fear to suit their own means? Are conflicts being instrumentalized to secure power? And how does this bode for Russian society?
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Christian F. Trippe - is a Special Correspondent for Deutsche Welle, reporting regularly from Moscow. He was head of DW’s Moscow bureau between 2002 and 2007. He has been with DW since 1993, including stints as head of bureau in Brussels and Berlin.
Anton Troianovski - is a US-american journalist of Russian Origin. He works as correspondent for the Wall Street Journal. Anton Troianovski is regularly visiting Ukraine and Russia. Before moving to Germany he worked for the newspaper from New York and Washington. He also has reported from Moscow for The Washington Post and The Associated Press.
Anthony Paterson - He began his career as a journalist in London and has worked as a foreign correspondent from Paris, Warsaw, Vienna and Berlin. He covered the rise of the Solidarity trade union in Poland for the American news agency UPI and the fall of the Berlin Wall for the BBC. He is now the Berlin correspondent for the London daily newspaper The Independent.