Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow shortly before midnight on Friday night local time. The Russian Interior Ministry told the Associated Press that Nemtsov had been shot four times while walking on a bridge near the Kremlin. Nemtsov had been expected to help lead a major opposition rally in the capital on Sunday.
Nemtsov had been a deputy prime minister under then-Russian President Boris Yeltsin for a year and half beginning in 1997—a period the Washington Post described in 1998 as "a frustrating 18 months at the cutting edge of a critical period in Russia's quest to become a free-market economy." Nemtsov's term, the Post's David Hoffman wrote then, "is often described as the most pro-reform in post-Soviet Russia's short history."
More recently, Nemtsov had been known for his blunt opposition to President Vladimir Putin. In an interview with The Atlantic two years ago, he panned the preparations for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, citing bribes and kickbacks he claimed it was "logical to suppose" amounted to $26 billion. Asked why Putin would permit that level of corruption, Nemtsov responded: "It's all very simple. Putin is part of a mafia; they do not turn in their own. He gave his friends an opportunity 'to earn some cash,' and now he is forced to deal with things as they are."