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Boris Nemtsov Was One Of Putin's Harshest Critics. So Why Is His Young Son In An Ad For Russia's Ruling Party?

A portrait of Boris Nemtsov stands at an impromptu shrine to the Russian opposition leader on the bridge where he was shot dead in 2015. (file photo)
A portrait of Boris Nemtsov stands at an impromptu shrine to the Russian opposition leader on the bridge where he was shot dead in 2015. (file photo)

The Moscow branch of the ruling United Russia party has raised eyebrows with a social media video that features the 7-year-old son of former Deputy Prime Minister and opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead outside the Kremlin in February 2015.

The video, issued to mark International Theater Day on March 27, shows the boy – also named Boris Nemtsov -- reciting outside downtown Moscow's Pushkin Drama Theater in brilliant spring sunshine.

It was deleted briefly and later reposted, this time without wording that had referred to the boy by name and explained that he recited a poem written by the 19th-century poet Aleksandr Pushkin toward the end of his life as part of an Easter triptych.

In an interview with MBX Media, the child's mother, Yekaterina Iftodi, said that her son "has participated in and will participate in" United Russia activities.

"The leadership of this country has shown great understanding and profound respect for this child," she said.

"This is just a child," she added. "I think it is dumb to attribute any principles to this because of his father. He doesn't have any political views."

Iftodi herself joined United Russia, the structure that holds a near monopoly on political power at all levels in President Vladimir Putin's Russia, earlier this year. With polls indicating its popular support is close to record lows, United Russia faces a test in elections to the State Duma, Russia's lower parliament chamber, that are expected in September.

"Thanks to the leadership of this country, we got some sort of justice, and we will never forget that," she told MBX Media.

Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of Putin and United Russia. In 2017, a Moscow military court convicted five ethnic Chechens of murdering Nemtsov on a bridge outside the Kremlin on February 27, 2015 and sentenced them to prison terms from 11 to 20 years. The organizers of the killing have never been identified, but Nemtsov's family believes it was organized by people with ties to Chechen strongman Ramzan Kadyrov and Putin.

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Iftodi, who met Nemtsov in 2013, sued to have her son acknowledged as his child shortly after he was killed. His other children refused to cooperate, but a DNA test was performed using material from the crime scene.

In September 2017, a Moscow district court, in closed session, ruled that the child was Nemtsov's and ordered that he be issued a passport with the name Boris Borisovich Nemtsov.

Nemtsov, who was 55 when he was killed, had one child, daughter Zhanna, born in 1984, with his wife, Raisa Nemtsova. The couple separated in the 1990s, but never divorced.

The charismatic politician also had two children with journalist Yekaterina Odintsova. Their son Anton was born in 1995 and their daughter Dina, in 2002.

In 2004, Nemtsov had a daughter, Sofya, with his secretary, Irina Korolyova.

The poem the child recited ends with a prayer asking God to protect the narrator from "the love of power."

"Give to me, o Lord, to see my own faults, and may my brother not be judged by me," it states.

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