Five Chechen men have been found guilty in connection with the murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov. The United States welcomes the news that five of those responsible for the murder have been convicted of the crime.
"We call once more on the Russian government to ensure that all involved in the killing of Boris Nemtsov, including anyone involved in organizing or ordering the crime, are brought to justice," said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert.
On February 27, 2015, Russians lost a champion of democracy and human rights when Boris Nemtsov was brutally murdered only steps from the Kremlin. The shooting, days before Mr. Nemtsov was to lead a rally to protest the war in Ukraine, ended his two-decade career as a supporter of democratic reforms and transparency in government, beginning after the Soviet Union’s collapse in 1991.
Sadly, there has been a longstanding climate of impunity in Russia for those who attack journalists, activists, and the political opposition.
As in the case of Boris Nemtsov, the organizer and the mastermind of the 2006 murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya have never been identified. The Committee to Protect Journalists’ 2016 Impunity Index lists Russia in the top ten countries worldwide with the highest rate of impunity in the killing of journalists, with nine unsolved journalist murders in Russia in the past decade. The 2010 brutal beating of journalist Oleg Kashin also remains unsolved despite evidence that appears to indicate that a sitting government official ordered the crime.
Vladimir Kara-Murza, an anti-Putin activist and friend of Nemtsov, has mysteriously fallen into a coma twice in the past two years. Both times, his family said he had been poisoned. No criminal case has been opened in relation to either incident.
Freedom of speech is a fundamental right to which all are entitled, including the Russian people. It is time for the murder and injury to Russians who dare to speak freely to stop.