What impact will Nemtsov’s death have on Russian opposition?
RT:Boris Nemtsov's political prominence plays back to the 1990s...Was he in any way significant today to the Kremlin, as has been claimed by some Western media?
Dmitry Babich: No, I don’t think he was dangerous to the Kremlin politically, because his electoral support was very low. The last election that his party – the Union of Right Forces – the last election that they actually managed to show good results at was in 2001. In 2001, his party got about 10 percent of the vote. Since then, he never managed to pass the threshold of five percent. So electorally, he wasn’t strong. But, certainly, he represented a certain minority view in Russia and especially on the events in Ukraine. He full-heartedly supported the new regime in Kiev.
RT:The Russian opposition has been noted for not being united and not offering people something to go with. Is his death likely to unite or spread further the opposition here in Russia?
DB: Well, in the short run, of course, the opposition – especially the liberal opposition – will be buoyed by this death, so they will present him as a victim, as someone whom the Kremlin feared. But in the long run, I don’t think his death will have a strong impact on the opposition. The main problem of the liberal opposition is not it's being divided; its problem is that they are trying to unite around wrong ideas. Right now, the reliant point of the liberal opposition is support for the new regime in Kiev.
A certain minority in Russia may be sympathetic with that view, but certainly not the huge majority of Russians.
RT:The timing of his death comes during the very fragile – but ongoing – ceasefire in Ukraine that's been going on for two weeks...
DB: Well, that’s true. In general, I think his death is a tragedy for all Russians, even those who disagreed with him. First he was a very nice and friendly person. I, as a journalist, took a lot of interviews from him and I remember that he was one of the few politicians who actually befriended journalists. He changed his views. I would say that, for example, he was very much against the NATO strike against Yugoslavia in 1999. Now, you know, in the last few years he suddenly started to support new Ukraine. So, he was not always consequential; he was not always logical. But thanks to television, he became almost like a member of the family, you know, for a lot of Russians who watched him on television during all of the 1990s. So his death is, of course, a very, very bad blow to all of Russia.