Russians march to honor slain opposition leader Nemtsov

 
 
Updated 2/26/2017 10:20 AM
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  • People hold posters reading 'Who ordered the murder?' during a rally in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People hold posters reading 'Who ordered the murder?' during a rally in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People gather together prior a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was killed two years ago, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Several thousand people held a march in Moscow in memory of the Russian opposition leader to mark the second anniversary of his killing.

    People gather together prior a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was killed two years ago, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Several thousand people held a march in Moscow in memory of the Russian opposition leader to mark the second anniversary of his killing. Associated Press

  • People gather in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Russians have taken to the streets of downtown Moscow and St. Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People gather in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Russians have taken to the streets of downtown Moscow and St. Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • A portrait of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a Russian national flag and flowers are laid at the place where he was gunned down, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    A portrait of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, a Russian national flag and flowers are laid at the place where he was gunned down, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • A man displays a poster reading 'Putin controls murderers' during a rally in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of downtown Moscow and St.Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    A man displays a poster reading 'Putin controls murderers' during a rally in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of downtown Moscow and St.Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People gather in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People gather in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in St. Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians have taken to the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • Russian opposition activist Ilya Yashin holds a loudspeaker during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    Russian opposition activist Ilya Yashin holds a loudspeaker during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People carry a poster, reading: Heroes do not die! Russia will be free! during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People carry a poster, reading: Heroes do not die! Russia will be free! during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People, with flags of different opposition movements, march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, center and his wife Yulia take a selfie during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, center and his wife Yulia take a selfie during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poser reads: He died for the future.

    People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poser reads: He died for the future. Associated Press

  • People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poser reads: Fight!.

    People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poser reads: Fight!. Associated Press

  • Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia, second left, take part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia, second left, take part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • Russian former opposition lawmaker Gennady Gudkov, center, takes part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    Russian former opposition lawmaker Gennady Gudkov, center, takes part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poster reads: I love Russia.

    People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poster reads: I love Russia. Associated Press

  • People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait at right, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poster reads: I love Russia.

    People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait at right, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. The poster reads: I love Russia. Associated Press

  • A woman hold flowers during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    A woman hold flowers during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    People march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, portrait in center, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

  • Police detain a man who threw paint in a face of former Russian Prime Minister and opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov, during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

    Police detain a man who threw paint in a face of former Russian Prime Minister and opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov, during a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, in Moscow, Russia, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. Thousands of Russians take to the streets of downtown Moscow to mark two years since Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Associated Press

MOSCOW -- Thousands of Russians marched through Moscow on Sunday shouting slogans such as "Russia will be free!" and "Putin is war!" to mark two years since opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, was a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin. His Feb. 27, 2015, death, in what appeared to be a contract killing, sparked an outpouring of anger and fear in Russia's beleaguered opposition movement.

The memorial protest was the largest opposition gathering since a similar march for Nemtsov in 2016. Organizers put the number of participants at just over 15,000. The police, known for underestimating attendance at political rallies, said about 5,000 people showed up.

"It's very important that after two years people continue to come out and show their solidarity with the ideas for which Boris Nemtsov fought for and gave his life," opposition activist Ilya Yashin, who was Nemtsov's friend and colleague, told the Interfax news agency.

Demonstrators carried Russian flags, banners of opposition political parties and placards with quotes from Nemtsov, including "If there's Putin, there's no Russia," and "Our only chance left is the street." Some carried cardboard Russian flags with bullet holes in them.

"For us, Nemtsov represents free-thinking Russia and the democratic values for which we strive: free elections and no corruption," participant Yekaterina Getgarts said.

Five men went on trial for Nemtsov's murder in a Moscow military court last year, but no verdicts have been returned in the ongoing case. Investigators allege that the man who shot Nemtsov was Zaur Dadayev, a former officer in an elite Chechen police unit. .

But Nemtsov's family and friends say it was a political hit with a trail that leads to senior officials in the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya who have not been charged or even questioned.

The Moscow rally largely passed without incident, but an unknown assailant threw green dye in the face of opposition leader Mikhail Kasyanov. Police made several arrests

"This is the hysteria of the government. They do not know what to do. The government is afraid," opposition activist Gennady Gudkov, a former deputy in the lower house of parliament, said of the attack on Kasyanov.

While large crowds are rare at opposition demonstrations in Putin's Russia, the attendance at Sunday's rally was significantly lower than a year ago, when organizers estimated almost 25,000 people joined a Nemtsov memorial march.

Russia's opposition has been fragmented in recent years by pressure from the Kremlin, the flight abroad of leading activists and political infighting.

After the march, thousands of people laid flowers on the bridge where Nemtsov was shot in the back several times while walking home with his girlfriend.

Similar demonstrations took place Sunday in other Russian cities, including St. Petersburg and Nemtsov's hometown of Nizhny Novgorod. Several thousand people participated in St. Petersburg, but the turnout was low elsewhere.

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Dmitri Kozlov and Sergei Fedotov contributed to this report from Moscow.

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