President Obama on Friday condemned what he called the “brutal murder” of Boris Nemtsov, an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin who was shot dead near the Kremlin.
“We call upon the Russian government to conduct a prompt, impartial, and transparent investigation into the circumstances of his murder and ensure that those responsible for this vicious killing are brought to justice,” Mr. Obama said in a statement.
“Nemtsov was a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled. I admired Nemtsov’s courageous dedication to the struggle against corruption in Russia and appreciated his willingness to share his candid views with me when we met in Moscow in 2009,” the president said. “We offer our sincere condolences to Boris Efimovich’s family, and to the Russian people, who have lost one of the most dedicated and eloquent defenders of their rights.”
Mr. Nemtsov, 55, was shot four times from a passing car as he was walking a bridge near the Kremlin, according to Russia’s Interior Ministry. His death came just days before he was to lead the Nemtsov, or Spring, protests in Moscow.
A sharp critic of the Mr. Putin, Mr. Nemtsov took on rampant government corruption and the Kremlin’s policy on Ukraine, which has enflamed tensions between Russia and the West to a degree unseen since the Cold War.
Mr. Putin also condemned the killing. He announced that he would oversee the investigation, saying the shooting could have been a contract killing and a “provocation” to fuel the Nemtsov protests.
Mr. Nemtsov served as deputy prime minister under Russia’s first elected president, Boris Yeltsin, in the 1990s.