The intrigue is building in Moscow. Vladimir Putin has not been seen in a week, and the rumor mill is going into overdrive.
Helping fan the flames of speculation, the official presidential website seems to be going into “Swan Lake” mode. The site has taken to posting old pictures of Putin in action in an attempt to make it seem as though it is business as usual.
Boris Nemtsov’s assassination can be considered the natural outcome of trends that have been shaping Russia’s development for the past couple of years. More ominously, the killing may signal that Russia is headed for a period of prolonged political violence.
In his office, Ozbek Azhi Chotonov, head of the Bishkek-based Islamic think tank Source of the Truth, plays a news clip about the hospitalization of a young girl in neighboring Kazakhstan after a bad reaction to a vaccine. For him, the report constitutes Exhibit A as to why vaccines are more dangerous than the diseases they are designed to prevent.
Amid a spreading climate of fear in Russia, underscored by the late February assassination of Boris Nemtsov, Russians with something to lose are increasingly trying to find safe havens abroad for their assets.
A lone gunman shot and killed one of Tajik President Emomali Rahmon’s most aggressive critics on March 5. Some observers have drawn parallels between the murder of Umarali Quvvatov and the late February assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov.
Activists in Armenia are worrying that new government-proposed requirements for non-governmental organizations will undermine Armenia’s relatively freely functioning civil-society sector. Some believe that the Armenian government, in mulling upending the status quo, is seeking to please the country’s economic and strategic overlord – Russia.