THE NEMTSOV ASSASSINATION: PUTIN'S 'MATTEOTTI AFFAIR'?
“Putin’s rating will not stay at above 80 per cent forever. It will start coming down, very gradually,” says Mr Nemtsov. “And once it does, the fear will diminish, too, and at some point some big business will start supporting and financing us.”Kathrin Hille and Courtney Weaver, "Russia: Left out in the cold". The Financial Times. 26 February 2015 in www.ft.com.
"Russian television announcing the shooting death of a top opposition figure late Friday night. 55-year-old Boris Nemtsov was shot four times in the back while walking along a bridge in central Moscow, just meters from the Kremlin. Police say he was shot from a passing white car which fled the scene. His shooting death comes nearly on the eve of a big opposition protest he was due to lead in Moscow on Sunday. The march is to protest against the war in Ukraine and another opposition figure has said that Nemtsov was preparing a report on the presence of Russian troops there. Boris Nemtsov was a former deputy prime minister and a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Putin has condemned the killing, calling it a "brutal murder." He's taken the investigation under presidential command, saying it could have been a contract killing designed as a "provocation". The White House, too, condemned the killing and called on the Russian government to make a "prompt" and "transparent" investigation to bring those responsible to justice.""Russian opposition leader Nemtsov shot dead in Moscow". Reuters. 27 February 2015, in www.reuters.com.
"I declare, in the presence of this assembly and that of the whole Italian people, that I, and I alone, assume the political, moral and historic responsibility for everything that has happened....If outbreaks of violence have been the result of a particular historic, political and moral climate I take the responsibility, because I created this historical, political and moral climate".Benito Mussolini, speaking to the Italian Chamber of Deputies in his official response to the assassination of Giacomo Matteotti, on 3 January 1925. Quotation from Richard Bosworth. Mussolini. (2002). p. 203. Of course only time will tell if indeed the murder of ex-Prime Minister, Boris Nemtsov proves to be the Russian State President Vladimir Putin's 'Matteotti Affair'. By employing this particular example from Italian history I am referring to two aspects of the Nemstov assassination: i) that regardless of whether or not Mussolini was directly implicated in the murder of the fearless Socialist Deputy (and the evidence is not clearcut enough for historians to make a positive decision about the matter), the Italian Fascist leader was honest enough in his official response to the storm of protest which greeted the murder, to acknowledge that by both word and deed, he was au fond 'responsible' for the murder 1; ii) that Mussolini used the aftermath of the affair to make a clear break with parliamentarism and to proceed to inaugurate a the beginnings of the full-fledged authoritarian regime, which was subsequently labeled as 'Fascist' 2. In the case of contemporary Russia, it is evident that to a degree the regime is in an economic cup de sac. With (in the words of a former Putin era Deputy Minister) Russia is suffering: "the biggest crisis since the collapse of the Soviet Union" 3. Given this circumstance and the fact that popular discontent is undoubtedly on the rise (if admittedly from very low levels), it would not surprise me that a group or groups in the regime decided to: a) make an example of Nemtsov, given his more recent prominence as seen in his interview with the Financial Times late last week; b) to perhaps use the affair to force the regime, Putin, et. al., into a full-fledged, authoritarian, non-democratic direction, by jailing and or forcing into exile the rest of the opposition. I am not stating that Nemtsov's murder was intended to commence 'b' above. Merely that there is a good likelihood that the inevitable result of the murder and its aftermath is that Putin, will either willingly or unwillingly decided to take Russia in this direction. Only time will tell of course. 1. See Bosworth, op. cit., pp. 195-197. See also: Richard Bosworth. Mussolini's Italy. (2006), p. 211. For a contrary point of view as per Mussolini's direct responsibility, see: Denis Mack Smith. Modern Italy: A political history. (1997), pp. 329-330. 2. Bosworth. Mussolini., op. cit., pp. 194-195, 200-207 and passim. See also: Bosworth. Mussolini's Italy, op. cit., pp. 212-216 & Smith, op. cit., pp. 332-338 & passim. 3. Kathrin Hille and Courtney Weaver, op. cit. Some analysts already state that the climate of 'official hate' mandated by the regime, made Nemtsov's murder possible, if perhaps not necessary. See: Ivan Nechepurenko, "Analysts Blame Nemtsov's Death on Russia's 'Legitimized Hate'". The Moscow Times. 28 February 2015, in www.themoscowtimes.com