Boris Nemtsov

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This name uses Eastern Slavic naming customs; the patronymic is Yefimovich and the family name is Nemtsov.
Boris Nemtsov
Борис Немцов
Boris Nemtsov 2013.jpg
Nemtsov in 2013
Deputy Prime Minister of Russia
In office
28 April 1998 – 28 August 1998
President Boris Yeltsin
Prime Minister Sergey Kirienko
Viktor Chernomyrdin (acting)
First Deputy Prime Minister of Russia
In office
17 March 1997 – 28 April 1998
Serving with Anatoly Chubais
President Boris Yeltsin
Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin
Preceded by Vladimir Putin
Alexey Bolshakov
Viktor Ilyushin
Succeeded by Yuri Maslyukov
Vadim Gustov
Personal details
Born Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov
(1959-10-09)9 October 1959
Sochi, Russian SFSR, Soviet Union
Died 27 February 2015(2015-02-27) (aged 55)
Moscow, Russia
Political party Union of Right Forces (1999–2008)
Solidarnost (since 2008)
PARNAS (2010–12)
Republican Party of Russia – PARNAS (since 2012)
Religion Russian Orthodox
Awards Medal of the Order "For Merit to the Fatherland" (second degree, 1995); Order of Prince Yaroslav the Wise (Fifth degree, 2006) [1]
recorded March 2013

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Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov (Russian: Бори́с Ефи́мович Немцо́в Russian pronunciation: [bɐˈrʲis jɪˈfʲiməvʲɪtɕ nʲɪmˈtsof]; 9 October 1959 – 27 February 2015) was a Russian scientist, statesman and liberal politician. He had a successful political career in the 1990s under President Boris Yeltsin, and since 2000 had been an outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin. He was shot and killed in February 2015 on a bridge near the Kremlin and Red Square in Moscow.[2]

Nemtsov was one of the most important figures in the introduction of capitalism into the Russian economy.[3] At the time of the murder, Nemtsov was in Moscow helping to organise a rally against Russian involvement in the war in Ukraine and the financial crisis. Nemtsov's conflict with Vladimir Putin's government centered over widespread embezzlement and profiteering ahead of the Sochi Olympics, as well as over policy in Ukraine.[4] In the weeks before his death, Nemtsov expressed fear that Russian President Vladimir Putin would have him killed.[5][6] He was shot four times in the back. A dramatic news photo showed his body "by accident or design theatrically placed" with the Kremlin and a lighted Saint Basil's Cathedral behind.[7]

Before his death Nemtsov had been elected a member of the regional parliament of Yaroslavl Oblast in 2013, a co-chair of the RPR-PARNAS, a member of the European Liberal-Democratic Alliance, and one of the leaders of the Solidarnost opposition movement.

Nemtsov was the first governor of the Nizhny Novgorod Oblast (1991–97). Later he worked in the Government of Russia as Minister of fuel and energy (1997), Vice Premier of Russia and Security Council member from 1997 to 1998. In 1998 he founded the Young Russia movement. In 1998, he co-founded the coalition group Right Cause (1998) and in 1999, he co-formed Union of Right Forces, an electoral bloc and subsequently a political party. He was elected several times as a Russian parliament member. Nemtsov was a member of the Congress of People's Deputies (1990), Federation Council (1993–1997) and State Duma (1999–2003). He also worked as Vice Speaker of the State Duma and the leader of parliamentary group Union of Right Forces. After a split in the Union of Right Forces in 2008, he co-founded Solidarnost. In 2010 he co-formed the coalition "For Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption", which was refused registration as a party. Beginning in 2012 Nemtsov was co-chair of the Republican Party of Russia – People's Freedom Party (RPR-PARNAS), a registered political party.[8][9]

Several publications of his writings criticized the Putin administration, and he was an active organizer of and participant in Dissenters' Marches, Strategy-31 civil actions and rallies "For Fair Elections".

Early life

Boris Yefimovich Nemtsov was born in Sochi to Yefim Davidovich Nemtsov and Dina Yakovlevna Nemtsova (née Eidman).[10][11] His mother is Jewish. In his autobiography, Nemtsov recounts that his Russian Orthodox paternal grandmother had him baptized as an infant,[12] something Nemtsov, who was a practicing Orthodox Christian, found out many years later.[13]

Studies and academic career

From 1976 to 1981, Nemtsov studied physics at N. I. Lobachevsky State University of Nizhny Novgorod, where in 1985, aged 25, he defended a PhD in Physics and Mathematics. Until 1990 Nemtsov worked as a research fellow at the Radiophysical Research Institute,[14] and published more than 60 academic publications related to quantum physics, thermodynamics and acoustics.[15] He theoretically proposed a mechanism for the acoustic laser[16][17] and a novel design of antennas for space probes.[18][1]

Political career

Boris Nemtsov at the World Economic Forum, 2 October 2003, Moscow
Barack Obama and Russian political leaders. Liberals Leonid Gozman, Boris Nemtsov, communist Gennady Zyuganov, social democrat Yelena Mizulina and social liberal Sergey Mitrokhin.

In 1986, in the wake of the Chernobyl disaster, Nemtsov organized a protest movement in his hometown which effectively prevented the construction of a new nuclear power plant in the region.[14]

In 1989, Nemtsov ran for the Soviet Congress of People's Deputies. He ran on a platform of reform which for the time was quite radical; promoting ideas such as multiparty democracy and private enterprise.[14] He was unsuccessful in this election, but returned to run for the Supreme Soviet of the Russian Republic representing Gorky (later renamed Nizhny Novgorod) in 1990. This time around Nemtsov defeated the 12 other candidates in the election, most of whom were members of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union nomenklatura.[19] In Parliament he joined the "Reform Coalition" and "Centre-Left" political groups.[14]

In the Russian parliament, Nemtsov was on the legislative committee,[14] working on agricultural reform and the liberalization of foreign trade. He was in this position when Nemtsov met Boris Yeltsin, who was impressed with the young man’s work.[19] During the October 1991 attack on the government by Yeltsin opponents, Nemtsov was vehemently supported the president, and stood by him during the entire clash. After those events, Yeltsin rewarded Nemtsov’s loyalty with the position of presidential representative in his home region of Nizhny Novgorod.[19]

In November 1991 Boris Yeltsin appointed Nemtsov Governor of the Nizhny Novgorod region. He was re-elected to that position by popular vote in December 1995. His tenure was marked by a wide-ranging, chaotic free market reform program which earned the nickname "Laboratory of Reform" for Nizhny Novgorod and resulted in significant economic growth for the region. Nemtsov's reforms won praise from former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, who visited Nizhny Novgorod in 1993.[19]

In December 1993 Nemtsov was elected to the Federation Council, the upper house of the Russian Parliament. During the election campaign he was backed by "Russia's Choice" and Yabloko, which were then the principal liberal parties in the country.

In March 1997 Nemtsov was appointed First Deputy Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, with special responsibility for reform of the energy sector. He was tasked with restructuring the monopolies and reforming the housing and social sectors.[20] He became widely popular with the public and appeared favored to become President of Russia in 2000. Boris Yeltsin introduced him to Bill Clinton as his chosen successor.[21] In the summer of 1997, opinion polls gave Nemtsov over 50% support as a potential presidential candidate.[citation needed] His political career, however, suffered a blow in August 1998 following the crash of the Russian stock-market and the ensuing economic crisis.

As part of Chubais' economic team, Nemtsov was forced to resign his position of Deputy Prime Minister.[22] After the dismissal of Prime Minister Victor Chernomyrdin in 1998, Nemtsov was reappointed Deputy Prime Minister, but resigned shortly afterwards when Yeltsin dissolved the government.

In August 1999 Nemtsov became one of the co-founders of the Union of Rightist Forces, a new liberal-democratic coalition which received nearly 6 million votes, or 8.6%, in the parliamentary elections in December 1999. Nemtsov himself was elected to the State Duma, or lower house of Parliament, and subsequently became its Deputy Speaker in February 2000. In May 2000, after the resignation of Sergei Kiriyenko, Nemtsov was elected leader of the Union of Rightist Forces and its parliamentary group in the State Duma. His position as party leader was confirmed at the Union of Rightist Forces congress in May 2001, where he was backed by over 70% of delegates.

In 2002 his name appears on a list of several individuals the hostage-takers during the Moscow theater hostage crisis were willing to speak to directly, but Nemtsov did not take part in the negotiations and later said that Putin had ordered him not to go.[23]

In the parliamentary elections of December 2003 the Union of Rightist Forces platform headed by both Nemtsov and Chubais received just 2.4 million votes, 4% of the total, and thus fell short of the 5% threshold necessary to enter Parliament and lost all of its seats in the State Duma. In January 2004, Nemtsov resigned from the party leadership, accepting his responsibility for the election defeat.[clarification needed][citation needed] He became Chairman of the Council of Directors of Neftianoi, an oil company, and also a political advisor to Ukranian president Viktor Yuschenko[24]

Later career

Rally of the "For Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption" coalition, 2010
Rally of the "For Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption" coalition, 2011

In 1998 Nemtsov had one of the first personal web sites on RuNet. sought to provide information to its users that was not available elsewhere and also was on of the first attempts by a politician to establish two-way communication with an audience.[25] By 2000 and 2003 Nemtsov was in a difficult political position. While he vehemently believed President Vladimir Putin's policies of were rolling back democracy and civic freedoms in Russia, he needed to collaborate with the powerful co-chairman on the Union of Rightist Forces, Anatoly Chubais, who favoured a conciliatory line towards the Kremlin. As a consequence, the Union of Rightist Forces' message appeared muddled and confused, and this alienated many liberal voters. In the parliamentary elections of December 2003 the Union of Rightist Forces platform headed by both Nemtsov and Chubais received just 2.4 million votes, 4% of the total, and thus fell short of the 5% threshold necessary to enter Parliament and also lost all of its seats in the State Duma. In January 2004, Nemtsov resigned from the party leadership, accepting his responsibility for the election defeat.[clarification needed][citation needed] He became Chairman of the Council of Directors of Neftianoi, an oil company, and also a political advisor to Ukranian president Viktor Yuschenko[26]In January 2004, Nemtsov co-authored (with his longtime adviser and party colleague Vladimir V. Kara-Murza) an article entitled "Appeal to the Putinist Majority", warning of the dangers of an impending Putin dictatorship, which appeared in Nezavisimaya Gazeta. Later the same month he co-founded "Committee 2008", an umbrella group of the Russian opposition which also included Garry Kasparov, Vladimir Bukovsky and other prominent liberals. [27]

In February 2004, Nemtsov was appointed as a director of the Neftyanoi Bank, and Chairman of Neftyanoi Concern, the bank’s parent company. In December 2005, however, prosecutors announced an investigation of the bank following allegations of money laundering and fraud. Nemtsov subsequently stepped down from both his positions in the company, saying that he wanted to minimize political fallout for the bank from of his continuing involvement in Russian politics. Nemtsov also alleged that his bank perhaps was targeted because of his friendship and support of former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, who had stated his intention to run for president in 2008.[28]

During the 2004 Ukrainian presidential elections, Nemtsov came out as a strong supporter of the eventual winner Viktor Yushchenko, while the Russian government backed his opponent, Viktor Yanukovych. Shortly after the Orange Revolution, as the elections and series of protests in Ukraine came to be called, Yushchenko appointed Nemtsov as an economic adviser.[29] Nemtsov’s main goal was to improve business ties between Ukraine and Russia, damaged after the Putin government strongly supported Yushchenko's opponent in the presidential election. Yushchenko's selection of Nemtsov was controversial because Nemtsov remained a vocal critic of Putin.[30]

Moscow rally, Yakimanka Street, Bolotnaya Square, February 2012

The relationship between Nemtsov and the Ukrainian government became unstable in the middle of 2005, when a group of legislators called for Yushchenko to fire Nemtsov following accusations that Nemtsov criticized Ukrainian cabinet decisions.[29] He remained as an economic adviser to Yushchenko, despite the criticism, until October 2006, when the office of the Ukrainian president announced that Nemtsov had been “relieved of his duties as a freelance presidential adviser”.[31]

On 26 December 2007, Nemtsov withdrew his candidacy for the 2008 presidential election, saying that he did not want to draw votes away from the other candidate of the "democratic opposition", Mikhail Kasyanov.[32]

Nemtsov co-founded with Garry Kasparov the political opposition movement Solidarnost (Solidarity) on 13 December 2008.[33] The organization hoped to unite the opposition forces in Russia.

Nemtsov announced at a 'Solidarnost' meeting on 12 March 2009, that he would stand for mayor of Sochi in the city's 26 April election.[34] Nemtsov, a Sochi native, criticized plans to hold the 2014 Winter Olympics in the town, which he thought led to an alleged attack on him by Nashi members using ammonium chloride on 23 March 2009.[35]

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev with Nemtsov and Vladimir Ryzhkov, February 2012

On 27 April 2009 it was announced that the acting Sochi mayor and United Russia candidate Anatoly Pakhomov had won the election with 77% of the vote.[36] Nemtsov, who came second with around 14% of the vote, contested the fairness of the election, alleging that he was denied media access and that government workers had been pressured to vote for Pakhomov.

Nemtsov was among the 34 original signatories of the online anti-Putin manifesto "Putin must go", published on 10 March 2010.

In September 2010, together with Vladimir Ryzhkov, Mikhail Kasyanov and Vladimir Milov, Nemtsov formed the "For Russia without Lawlessness and Corruption" party, which, three months later was transformed into the People's Freedom Party.[37] In May 2011 the party submitted an application for registration to the Ministry of Justice, but one month later it was denied. The party examined various ways to boycott the parliamentary elections of December 2011. It also planned to elect an alternative candidate in the presidential elections of March 2012.

On 16 December 2010, Putin stated, in a live television broadcast, that during the 1990s, Nemtsov, Milov and Ryzhkov "dragged a lot of billions along with Berezovsky and those who are now in prison... They have been pulled away from the manger, they had been spending heavily, and now they want to go back and fill their pockets".[38] In January 2011, Nemtsov, Milov and Ryzhkov brought suit over Putin's statement before the Moscow City Court, but the following month the suit was dismissed. According to the judge, Tatiana Adamova, the names of Nemtsov, Milov and Ryzhkov were used by Putin merely as common names to refer to a certain class of politicians.[39]

Boris Nemtsov about Winter Olympics in the subtropics, 2014

Arrests and imprisonment

Nemtsov was arrested on 25 November 2007 during an unauthorized protest near the State Hermitage Museum against President Putin. Nemtsov and other opposition had complained of official harrassment, and police force had been used a number of times to break up what were known as Dissenter's Marches. Nemtsov was released later that day.[40] On 31 December 2010, he was again arrested with other opposition leaders during a rally against government restrictions on public protests. He was sentenced to 15 days in jail on 2 January 2011.[41] The arrests were condemned by US Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman,[42] and by Amnesty International who described him as a prisoner of conscience.[43] The Economist called his arrest "a new low" in the governance of Russia.[44] Nemtsov filed a complaint to the European Court of Human Rights, which accepted it and agreed to handle the case through its new urgent procedure.[45] On 6 December 2011 Nemtsov was once again arrested, with at least a hundred other demonstrators, during the 6 December protests in Moscow.[46]

Political views

Since his dismissal from the government, Nemtsov became an important actor in the political discourse and eventually in the opposition to Putin's government. Nemtsov's political beliefs have caused some to characterize him as a "new liberal".[47]

In December 2013, Nemtsov said on behalf of his party: "We support Ukraine's course toward European integration [...] By supporting Ukraine, we also support ourselves."[48]

Nemtsov condemned the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine: "My condolences to the families of the victims. The bastards, who did this, must be destroyed. The separatists the other day bragged they had the Buk missiles, with which they wanted to take down an AN-26. If those are them, they must get no mercy."[49]

Nemtsov was among the few Russian statesman to vocally criticize the annexation of Crimea by Russia. Nemtsov has stated that he views Crimea as an integral part of Ukraine and its annexation by the Russian Federation to be illegal, saying the people of Crimea and not Russian legislators should decide in which country they should reside.[50]

In September 2014, Nemtsov wrote in the Kyiv Post: "...current events indicate that the most nightmarish, the most bloody scenario of fratricidal war is already developing. This is not our war, this is not your war, this is not the war of 20-year old paratroopers sent out there. This is Vladimir Putin's war."[51]


Location of the murder at the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge
Tens of thousands march in Moscow in memory of Boris Nemtsov, 1 March 2015

Just before midnight (at 23:40 GMT+3) on 27 February 2015, Nemtsov was shot several times in the back as he was crossing the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge in Moscow, close to the Kremlin walls and Red Square (55°44′58″N 37°37′27″E / 55.7495°N 37.62421°E / 55.7495; 37.62421). He died at the scene.

The murder happened less than two days before Nemtsov was due to take part in a peace rally against alleged Russian involvement in the war in Ukraine and the financial crisis in Russia.[52][53] The BBC reported: "In his last tweet, Mr Nemtsov sent out an appeal for Russia's divided opposition to unite at an anti-war march he was planning for Sunday", quoting him as saying, "If you support stopping Russia's war with Ukraine, if you support stopping Putin's aggression, come to the Spring March in Maryino on 1 March."[6]

Russian journalist Kseniya Sobchak said that Nemtsov was preparing a report proving the presence of Russian military in eastern Ukraine.[54]

The night following the murder of Nemtsov, his papers, writings and computer hard drives were confiscated in a search performed by police in his flat on Malaya Ordynka street.[55]

Less than three weeks before his murder, on 10 February, Nemtsov wrote on Russia's "Sobesednik" news website that his mother was afraid Putin would kill him, he added that his 87-years-old mother is also afraid for Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Alexey Navalny but much more worried about Nemtsov as he was her son after all. When asked if he himself is afraid for his life Nemtsov answered "Yes, Not as strongly as my mother but still..."[5][6][56]

Honors and awards

This article incorporates information from the equivalent article on the Russian Wikipedia.


Since 2008, Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov have published several reports criticising Putin's government and proposing alternative ways of development for the country:

  • Putin. Results – February 2008
  • Putin and Gazprom – September 2008
  • Putin and the Crisis – February 2009
  • Sochi and the Olympics – April 2009
  • Putin. Results. 10 years – June 2010. Translated into English as Putin: What 10 Years of Putin Have Brought, a revised edition of the report Putin. Results of 2008.
  • Putin. Corruption – March 2011. Written by co-chairmen of the People's Freedom Party Nemtsov, Milov, Ryzhkov and Solidarity movement spokesman Olga Shorina. The printing of the report was funded with donations.
  • Nemtsov was preparing for publication his next report proving the presence of Russian military in eastern Ukraine when he was murdered (BBC News International, 28 February 2015; a Russian source is quoting journalist Kseniya Sobchak on the matter[54]).


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Further reading

  • Nicholson, Alex. “Prosecutors: money laundering found at Russian bank headed by frmer government minister.” Associated Press Newswires, 9 December 2005, (Retrieved via Factiva, 26 October 2006)
  • Nemtsov, Boris. 2000. “Reform for Russia: Forging a New Domestic Policy.” Harvard International Review 22 (No. 2): 16–21.

External links