Before he was killed, Boris Nemtsov was attacked and threatened routinely -- and sometimes ridiculously.
He was assaulted with eggs, had ammonia thrown at him, and a toilet tossed on top of his car, just to name a few.
This is worth bearing in mind when considering this week's incident in which a group of assailants threw a cake in the face of former prime minister and opposition figure Mikhail Kasyanov.
If a Russian opposition figure gets assassinated in the near future, nobody will be able to say it wasn't telegraphed.
The Kremlin, of course, is dismissing the cake attack as mere hooliganism.
This ignores the fact that Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov openly threatened Kasyanov on Instagram a week earlier, posting a video of him in the crosshairs of a sniper's rifle -- and openly mocked the cake assault afterward.
And it ignores the fact that the website LifeNews, which has ties to Russia's security services, posted a video of the incident -- and an accompanying story on the Most Popular Cakes In Grozny.
Whatever it was, it wasn't mere hooliganism.
Writing on Facebook, opposition politician Dmitry Gudkov noted that far from being funny, the cake incident shows that Kasyanov is under constant surveillance and potential attackers know exactly where he will be at any time.
And this is all happening as the first anniversary of Nemtsov's assassination approaches later this month.
Is this a psyop designed to frighten and intimidate Kasyanov and other opposition figures?
Or is it something more sinister -- a signal that Kadyrov has license to come after the Kremlin's opponents with impunity?
It's impossible to be sure. And that is exactly the point.
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