Boris Nemtsov–who was murdered in Moscow on February 27–was a Russian politician. He was a prominent figure in the opposition movement against the policies of Russian president Vladimir Putin. Just 55 when he was killed, Nemtsov had been a factor in Russian political life for decades. He became regional governor of Nizhy Novgorod–a Russian industrial center–when he was just 32. Russian president Boris Yeltsin made Nemtsov Russia’s first deputy prime minister in 1997.
Nemtsov was reportedly a candidate to succeed Yeltsin when Yeltsin stepped down in 1999, but instead Putin was chosen. Originally a supporter of Putin, Nemtsov swiftly became an opposition leader. An attractive politician with an easy smile, Nemtsov had a compelling speaking style and a Western-influenced dedication to civil liberties that Putin’s government routinely tramples. Nemtsov was a thorn in Putin’s side throughout this century, continually exposing corruption and rallying large-scale public protests. His friend and fellow opposition leader, the chess champion Garry Kasparov, said upon Nemtsov’s death that “a man of Boris’s quality no longer fit Putin’s Russia.”