‘Nemtsov killing godsend for anybody against a strong Russia’

Boris Nemtsov (Reuters/Sergei Karpukhin)
The murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov could be a provocation since it is ‘manna from heaven’ for those who don’t want to see Russia strong, Dr William Mallinson, former British diplomat and historian told RT.

RT:The Kremlin believes the murder to be a provocation. If so, what's being provoked here, do you think?

William Mallinson: It could well be a provocation. First point... it is manna from heaven, it is a godsend for anybody who is against a strong Russia - people like [Victoria] Nuland, McCain, and the neocons in particular. That is the first, point. The second point is a sudden worldwide publicity and almost mass hysteria in the Western media. And I should say here that American people as a whole are more prone to mass hysteria than the Russians. So I think that Russians will and should keep this whole thing under some sort of control and avoid hysteria, it is in their nature. The Western press is having a field day…

RT:How come most of what we are hearing from Western media is directed against Vladimir Putin while the probe is barely two days old?

WM: Exactly, such headlines…can’t be credible. That is clear propagandistic bias. Then interviewing people like [former Georgian President Mikhail] Saakashvili who has been an international playboy now I think proves that. The most serious thing which I must say, I noticed that he [Nemtsov] doesn’t appear to have a bodyguard. He therefore did not consider his life to be under any serious threat and he was therefore a soft target. I haven’t seen that mentioned anywhere. Another thing I should mention is what I call a “Becket syndrome” when Thomas Becket was murdered in Canterbury Cathedral in 1170. That was by some enraged people who thought that they would please their boss Henry II. But in fact he was furious about it and made similar statements.

RT:There are many different theories behind Nemtsov’s murder. But are you surprised that right before Boris Nemtsov was shot he was walking with a Ukrainian young lady who escaped?

READ MORE: Boris Nemtsov: From reformist wonder boy to disgruntled opposition leader

WM: I most intrigued that she wasn’t shot as well. Normally, for example, when they killed my Ambassador [Sir Richard Sykes] in The Hague back 1979 they also shot dead his footman. Professionals do that for a number of reasons which are fairly obvious. So I’m surprised that she got off scot-free wherever she was. But I would not want to speculate irresponsibly on this because I’m sure that the police questioned her very closely.

RT:There's also the symbolism of the timing and location of this: The killing happened right in front of the Kremlin – a place with very high security. The accident also happened right before the rally that was going to happen on Sunday and then turned into a memorial march. What might we read into that?

WM: ...Whoever did it, did it with impunity and just disappeared because all was done very quickly, the car disappeared in some side alleys, just like they did in The Hague in 1979. Even cameras can’t catch people. And [the suspect] seems to be a fairly nondescript character: not that tall, jeans, shirt. People like that can disappear with or without cameras. Obviously they did.

The date was chosen specifically to achieve maximum worldwide coverage and increase the hysteria and speculation. That is fairly obvious. There is one last point that I must admit, I’m sure if some very angry extreme nationalists have seen photographs of the poor chap Nemtsov with people like Timoshenko, McCain, and Poroshenko it is a statistical certainty that some of them would undoubtedly have been furious enough to do something like that. Although that can’t be proven at all.

A man places a lit candle at the place where Boris Nemtsov was shot dead near the Kremlin in central Moscow February 28, 2015. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)

‘West has wrong idea on what’s going on within Russian politics’

Investigative journalist Tony Gosling says the way the West reacted to Boris Nemtsov’s murder “does smack of a knee-jerk reaction.” The analysis in the Western press has been pretty appalling about Boris Nemtsov’s role in Russian politics.

“Again and again, they’re talking about him as the opposition. Actually, he’s really a bit of a has-been. He was a part of the Yeltsin coalition. David Cameron’s been saying that he wants to bring an end to corruption. Actually, people around the world who analyze these things, will see that Yeltsin’s was an era of massive corruption. These neoliberal parties in Russia are actually only in total, at the highest, five percent of the vote. So they’re not really “the opposition,” they are a minor opposition. They’re pro-EU, pro-US. The main opposition is the Communists.”

Tony Gosling also said Western media gives the impression that Putin isn’t popular in Russia, while it is not true.

“Most Russians see him as a good manager. I mean I wish we could say that for our Western leaders. So there’s a universally false picture being painted of what’s going on within Russian politics.”

‘West wants to create a hero or a martyr’

Nemtsov’s murder is a political issue and it’s now impossible to know exactly who killed the opposition figure, believes Bruno Drweski, Professor at the National Institute of Languages and Eastern Civilizations.But, of course a good journalist, he adds, “should give information and not suppositions as they are doing. So for the moment it’s pure propaganda, it has nothing to do with looking for the clues, it has to do with creating the impression about this murder.”

Professor Drweski told RT that Nemtsov was important long ago, but he lost his position and his influence, and he was very unpopular in Russia. “If he had to be killed, he had to be killed much longer ago, not now. So for the moment, I have rather the impression that they want to create a hero or a martyr…”

It is difficult to know now who is behind this murder, Drweski thinks. “It can be every political group of every political tendency which has rather an interest to present Russia as a non-democratic state, and as a failed state… rather than pro-Russian elements.”

READ MORE:Thousands mourn slain opposition politician Nemtsov at Moscow march

According to Drweski, Russia now is a state which is fighting for collective security for national sovereignties all over the world. “It’s a tendency which is very inconvenient for most Western powers and especially for the United States. To a certain extent we can say that now Ukrainian ultranationalists, so-called Islamists, and American neo-conservatives are on the same side against Russia, so they have interest to present Russia as a bad state, and they do it.”

As for those who are behind this killing, first we have to ask who is behind Ukrainian ultra-nationalists and so-called Islamists, he noted.

“And we see there are much stronger interests behind all those tendencies. On the second point, Nemtsov was known as a man linked with the ultra-free trade market ideology. In Russia, the ultra-free trade ideology was also linked with the mafia at the time he was in power. So maybe we can look in that direction. Especially as ultra-free trade market ideologies are also linked with American neo-conservatism.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.