According to Russian news sources, a suspect in the death of a top Russian opposition figure killed himself Saturday night in the capital of the Chechen Republic. The man, named Beslan Shavanov, was the sixth suspect in the murder of Boris Nemtsov, and allegedly blew himself up after police attempted to arrest him.

Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin. He was shot in the back four times while walking across a bridge in Moscow near the Kremlin. The murder happened just hours after he had denounced Putin for his "mad, aggressive" policies in Ukraine on a radio show. After news of Nemtsov's death broke, Putin blamed extremists and protestors for the slaying. However, opponents have accused Putin and his government for having a part in the murder of Nemtsov, especially considering that Nemtsov had previously been arrested for his anti-Putin criticisms.

This accusation isn't all that surprising, given that Nemtsov is just one of a number of different opponents of Putin that have been killed or imprisoned over the years. Others include Anna Politkovskaya, an outspoken journalist critical of Russia's war in Chechnya who was gunned down in her apartment in 2006, Alexander Litvinenko, a Russian security agent poisoned by lethal dose of plutonium while in London in 2006, and business magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky who was jailed after he accused Putin of corruption.

Of course, the Kremlin has denied any such part in the jailing or killing of any political opponents. Further, a Russian court has already charged two men in the killing of Nemtsov and has jailed three others. According to Russian news, one of the men charged has already admitted involvement in the crime.

However, not all are convinced that Putin's government didn't have a hand in the murder of Nemtsov. In a recent address to parliament, NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow said, "President Putin's aim seems to be to turn Ukraine into a failed state and to suppress and discredit alternative voices in Russia. We've seen that the victims are not just in eastern Ukraine, with the brutal murder of Boris Nemtsov last Friday," Vershbow remarked.

"While we don't know who pulled the trigger, we do know that Boris Nemtsov was a powerful voice for democracy and against Russia's involvement in Ukraine ... (and) was among those vilified as 'traitors' and 'fifth columnists' in Russia's official propaganda," Vershbow said.

There will certainly be more news to come on this subject, as things in Russia won't be calming down anytime soon.


Photo Credit: Axel Axel