Kadri Liik, an expert on Russian domestic and foreign policy at the European Council of Foreign Relations, told ETV that losing Boris Nemtsov, who had the ability to draw together opposition forces by concentrating on the important, is a big blow for the Russian opposition.
Was the funeral march held in Nemtsov's honor on Sunday big by Russian standards?
It seemed to be. It's another question what's going to follow. It seems to me that people were prompted to attend by feelings of shock and horror, not out of enthusiasm or initiative to go and change something for the better. There was a thick cloud of despondency hanging in the air.
How many Russians actually support the opposition?
Not many, for the state media is successfully portraying the opposition as an embittered sideshow that lives off the support from the West and has not much to offer to an ordinary Russian. The opposition forces include some brave individuals who are trying to fight this perception, get through to people by other means, and there are some success stories. Let's not forget that Alexei Navalny got nearly 30 percent of the votes in Moscow, using very simple means to campaign. So it's possible to some extent but very difficult under general media censorship.
Nemtsov was very well known, do you feel like his death could bring on a change?
It can be felt a bit in Moscow. People are shocked yet again and could potentially reassess some beliefs. But it's too early to tell where this all will lead. If they do reassess their approach to Putin's regime, then how and what will they do with it? It's too early to talk about it. However, it's definitely a big scare to everybody, for Nemtsov was a former deputy prime minister and he wasn't the kind of petty and bitter person with lots of personal enemies, who would easily enough meet his end like he did.
How united is the opposition in Russia and is it scared right now?
I think it's scared because if Nemtsov wasn't untouchable, no one is. I believe they understand this very well. However, I very much doubt it makes them more united. They're very fragmented, bickering about questions that seem fundamental to them and could very well be important, but lay behind the phenomenon of marginalization. I've seen it a lot in small groups that are under pressure - they fall out among themselves. They start focusing on things that make them different, instead of the things they share. In that sense, Nemtsov's death is a big blow. He was able to focus on the unifying aspects, never bore a grudge for small misunderstandings that happened a decade ago. There's a lot of such petty sentiments in that society - it's all quite understandable really, the kind of life they live easily gives rise to it. But it's not good.
What was Nemtsov counting on in this situation?
I don't know. I never asked him in that exact wording but I think he was convinced that one must do the right thing, no matter what the circumstances and the position you are in. He always managed to do his thing with a smile on his face, whether as a deputy PM or a lonely opposition figure. I believe the example he set has inspired many and he didn't live in vain.
Editor: M. Oll