TBILISI, DFWatch–Georgia’s former president, Mikheil Saakashvili, vaguely blames President Vladimir Putin of the assasination of a leading Russian opposition politician Friday night.
In a Facebook post published early Saturday morning, Saakashvili recalls that when he last met with Boris Nemtsov at Kiev’s posh Fairmont hotel, he half-jokingly warned the opposition leader to beware of poisoning.
Nemtsov, 55, was a former deputy prime minister and member of the Opposition Coordinating Council. He was an outspoken critic of the Kremlin’s policies in Ukraine.
Friday night, he was shot dead in the center of Moscow while walking across the Moskvoretskyi bridge near the Kremlin.
“I met Boris Nemtsov the last time a few days ago in Kiev, at the Hotel Fairmont. We had lunch and he told me about the march, which he and his associates planned to be held in Moscow,” Mikheil Saakashvli writes.
“It was absolutely natural to ask him whether he was afraid for his safety in Russia, especially now.
“He said Putin pursues certain rules and, as a former high ranking official hardly he would be incarcerated for a long time.”
“I interrupted him and said that he would be afraid of the poison in glass of red wine, which he was holding, not of arrest. However, looking at the expression on his face, I knew that the joke was inappropriate.”
“Afterwards we talked for a long time about how Putin would finish (his career) and both agreed upon that his behavior carried a lot of parallels with those of Milosevic (former president of Yuogoslavia accused of war crimes), who was made popular by the war and the war caused also his dawnfall. Today I remebered that during Milosevic rule opposition politicians also were assasinated.”
“Boris Nemtsov was a very brave man, very reckless. It was possible to argue and disagree with, but it was absolutely impossible to remain indifferent towards him. I knew him since the mid ’90s, we often talked, especially in recent years. Died a friend of nations and, at the same time, a true patriot of Russia, a very interesting man in the country, which is ruled by malicious mediocrity. Too bad …”
Saakashvili, who has not been in Georgia since late 2013 and is charged in his homeland in several criminal cases, also posted photos from his recent lobbying effort in the U.S. Congress for supplying arms to Ukraine. He was recently hired as an adviser for Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko.
On Sunday, March 1, several Russian opposition groups were planning to hold a protest march against Putin’s domestic policies. They demand slashing expenditures for the army and police, and democratic reforms in the judiciary.
Boris Nemtsov, along with other prominent opposition figures such as Alexei Navalny, Mikhail Kasianov and Mikhail Khodorkovsky, was among the organizers of the march called ‘Vesna’ (‘Spring’).
The organizers are now weighing whether to go through with the march as planned, call it off or hold a different rally in commemoration of Nemtsov.