Boris Nemtsov is not the first Russian dissident to be killed
in mysterious circumstances in recent years
Paul Khlebnikov, 2004
Paul Khlebnikov, an American journalist and editor of Forbes Russia, was killed with a machine gun outside his office in Moscow in 2004. A fluent Russian speaker, Khlebnikov, aged 41 at the time of his death, was known for his investigations into corruption and the murky world of Russian business and politics in the 1990s, and his exposes of the business empire of Kremlin kingmaker Boris Berezovsky. A group of three men from the North Caucasus republic of Chechnya were acquitted of his murder in a trial in 2006. The case has never been solved.
Anna Politkovskaya, 2006
Anna Politkovskaya, a journalist and fierce critic of the Kremlin, was shot in the entrance to her apartment building in Moscow in 2006 aged 48. She was known for her reporting on human rights abuses in Russia’s troubled North Caucasus. Supporters have always maintained the murder was political. Five men were found guilty of carrying out the hit in May last year, but the person who ordered the contract-style killing has never been identified.
Alexander Litvinenko, 2006
Alexander Litvinenko, 44, a former KGB officer, died after being poisoned with radioactive polonium-210. Two former Russian security services men allegedly added the isotope to his tea when they met him in the restaurant of a London hotel. Litvinenko was an associate of the self-exiled oligarch Boris Berezovsky. He had accused Vladimir Putin of being corrupt and a paedophile, according to evidence given by his widow at a public inquiry into his death.
Natalya Estemirova, 2009
Abducted in the Chechen capital of Grozny in July 2009, Natalya Estemirova, a 50-year-old human rights campaigner and activist, was later found dumped by the side of the road with bullet wounds to her head. The case intensified scrutiny of local leader Ramzan Kadyrov, who was accused of creating a climate of fear and violence. Estemirova’s killers have never been brought to justice.
Anastasiya Baburova and Stanislav Markelov, 2009
Anastasiya Baburova, a trainee journalist, and Stanislav Markelov, a human rights lawyer, were shot in broad daylight as they strolled away from a press conference less than a mile from the Kremlin. The main target was assumed to be Markelov, 34 at the time, and a lawyer who had represented left-wing activists, journalists and victims of a 2002 Moscow theatre siege when Russian special forces killed over 100 hostages during a rescue operation. Baburova, aged 25 when she died, worked for opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta. In 2011 a Moscow court convicted and imprisoned two neo-Nazis, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgeniya Khasis, of the double murder.
Boris Berezovsky, 2013
It is not clear whether Boris Berezovsky was murdered but a coroner recorded an open verdict after he was found dead at the age of 67 with a ligature around his neck in the bathroom of the mansion where he lived in Surrey. The businessman fled to Britain from Russia in 2000 after falling out with Vladimir Putin, and used London as a base for criticising his former protégé. It is thought most likely that he took his own life because of financial troubles. However, the coroner said the burden of proof was not sufficient to conclude that this was certainly the case, raising speculation that Berezovsky was assassinated.