Russian Opposition Leader Boris Nemtsov to be Buried Today


People stand in a line to attend a memorial service before the funeral of Russian leading opposition figure Boris Nemtsov in Moscow

Mourners are gathering in Moscow for the funeral of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead four days ago, according to Sky News.

Long queues are forming outside the Sakharov Center in central Moscow where Mr Nemtsov’s body is lying in state ahead of a funeral later this afternoon.

The former deputy prime minister and long-time critic of Russian president Vladimir Putin was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin while walking with his girlfriend late on Friday.

No suspects have been arrested following the murder, considered the most shocking political assassination of Mr Putin’s rule.

Sky News’ Moscow Correspondent Katie Stallard, who is at the Sakharov Centre, said people have been queuing since the early hours of the morning to pay their respects to Mr Nemtsov, 55.

Many are carrying carnations, the traditional flower of mourning in Russia.

Leading Russian opposition figures have suggested the murder was politically motivated, although authorities say it could have been a provocation aimed at tarnishing Mr Putin’s image.

The chief witness to the killing, Mr Nemtsov’s Ukrainian girlfriend Anna Duritskaya, who has now left Rusia after claiming she was barred from leaving by investigators, has said she did not catch sight of the killers.

The Kremlin has pledged to hold a full investigation into what Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov has described as a “heinous crime”.

Although one mourner told Sky’s Katie Stallard she did not feel confident the killers would be brought to justice.

“Even if we have some results, I wouldn’t be able to trust them,” she said.

Several leading international figures are among the crowds of mourners, including former British prime minister John Major and US ambassador John Tefft.

However a number of Polish and Latvian officials say they have been barred from entering Russia to attend the funeral due to take place in Moscow’s Troekurovskoye cemetery.

Poland’s foreign ministry said Polish senate speaker Bogdan Borusewicz was refused entry in retaliation for European Union sanctions over Ukraine.

Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete said she was not given a reasonable explanation for the ban, but told news agency AFP she thought her “clear and explicit” opposition to Russia’s actions in Ukraine may have played a role.

According to colleagues, Mr Nemtsov had been working on a report which apparently included concrete evidence that Russia was directly involved in the separatist movement which erupted in Ukraine last year.

He had also spoken of his fear of assassination following the murders of a string of other prominent opposition figures since Mr Putin came to power 15 years ago.

On Sunday tens of thousands of protesters marched through the streets of central Moscow to honour his legacy. Opposition leaders said the protest was also aimed at stopping a “campaign of hate” directed at those who question Mr Putin’s rule.

Many of the demonstrators carried portraits Mr Nemtsov, as well as placards declaring “I am not afraid” and “He died for Russia’s future”.

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