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Nemtsov's Daughter Cites 'Danger' To Putin Critics

Zhanna Nemtsova, daughter of the late Russian oppositionist Boris Nemtsov

The eldest daughter of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov has warned that critics of the government who refuse to remain silent risk harassment or face "some degree of danger" in Russia.

Thirty-one-year-old Zhanna Nemtsova, who told RFE/RL's Russian Service she is "not now in Russia," says the situation there "is only getting worse and it will happen very fast."

Nemtsova and her mother and grandmother were among thousands of Russians who turned out to publicly mourn after Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister whose unflinching criticism of President Vladimir Putin's reign earned him powerful enemies, was shot dead in central Moscow on February 27.

A onetime TV presenter and stock-market analyst for a Moscow financial channel, Nemtsova has since campaigned widely, arguing that Putin is at least politically culpable in her father's killing.

Nemtsov had told Russia's Sobesednik news website in the weeks ahead of his slaying that he feared for his own life, saying, "I'm afraid Putin will kill me."

Now, his daughter says she receives threatening messages through social media.

"I'm not sure if such messages should be considered as a real threat…but it would be an exaggeration for me to say I feel safe in Russia," Nemtsova told RFE/RL.

Nemtsova says she takes images of such messages and posts them on her Facebook account "for security reasons," not because she gets "offended."

On her Facebook account, Nemtsova blames the messages on the "Kremlin trolls."

One message, from "Oksana Chizhikova from Siberia," warns Nemtsova not to repeat her father's "mistake:"

"Don't get involved in politics if you want to live normally!! Not only in Russia, but in general!!! Your daddy had done enough for us, 139 million people, to hate you."

The message says Nemtsov's murder had nothing to do with Russian leaders, particularly Putin.

It suggests that Islamists or Ukrainian security services were behind the assassination.

Another message, by "Lidiya Kattau," condemns Nemtsova for "slandering" Russia on German television:

"You, like your father travel across Europe and America and slander Russia… Your father hasn't done anything good to improve people's lives in Russia. He was in the Kremlin in the 1990s. What he and others have done for our country? Nothing. They only sold and looted Russia.

"Instead of helping Putin to rebuild the country, your father began to criticize and slander him in America and elsewhere."

Nemtsova has said Putin is "politically" responsible for the killing of her father, whom she described as the most powerful opposition leader in Russia.

Nemtsov was shot on a bridge near the Kremlin.

His daughter told RFE/RL that anyone "who can't stay silent, who speaks about problems in the country, who openly criticizes Putin and his policies, faces some degree of danger in Russia."

During a recent trip to Warsaw, she gave Polish leaders a "Nemtsov list" of high-ranking media managers and journalists that Nemtsov's supporters say are guilty of inciting hatred in Russian society.

Nemtsova said she has asked the speaker of the Polish senate, Bogdan Borusewicz, for the European Union to impose sanctions against the individuals in the list.

The list contains of eight names, including Dmitry Kiselyov, the head of the state-owned media organization Russia Today; Oleg Dobrodeyev, director of Russian state TV holding company VGTRK; and Aleksei Pushkov, a television presenter and lawmaker.

Nemtsova has said her father had urged Western leaders in May 2014 to introduce sanctions against "Putin propagandists."

Russian investigators have arrested five suspects from the North Caucasus region in Nemtsov's slaying.

Zaur Dadayev, an ethnic Chechen and reportedly the prime suspect in the case, denies the charges, saying he had initially admitted guilt under duress.

Written by Farangis Najibullah based on an interview by RFE/RL's Russian Service correspondent Mark Krutov
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    Mark Krutov

    Mark Krutov is a correspondent for RFE/RL's Russian Service and one of the leading investigative journalists in Russia. He has been instrumental in the production of dozens of in-depth reports, exposing corruption among Russia's political elite and revealing the murky operations behind Kremlin-led secret services. Krutov joined RFE/RL in 2003 and has extensive experience as both a correspondent and a TV host.