Is Putin in danger of being murdered?

Russia: "Putin had Nemtsov executed"

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ZEIT ONLINE: Mr. Felschtinsky, have you feared for your life since the murder of Boris Nemtsov?

Yuri Felschtinsky: No, and there is a reason for that: I live in Boston. That is far from Russia. And I know how far I can go. If I went to Russia it would be like suicide. I haven't set foot in my homeland since Putin became president. In 2001 I was living in much greater danger, having written with Alexander Litvinenko about Putin's connections to the outbreak of the Chechnya war. At that time we were the only voice reporting it. In 2007, when I described in my book how the FSB took control of all state organs in Russia through Putin, it was similar. But these days I'm really not the only one who compares Putin to Hitler.

ZEIT ONLINE: Putin critics must expect death within Russia?

Felschtinsky: Watch Russian TV these days after Boris Nemtsov passed away. All people who talk about the murder there avoid the word Putin. They simply hide the fact that he could be behind the attack. They talk about the fact that parts of the government could have been involved, that the climate of society could have changed in recent years, that Nemtsov was shot for personal reasons, that foreign agents from Ukraine or the USA could have something to do with it. And so on. But none of these people ever mention Putin's name. You will never publicly accuse the most powerful man in the state in Russia. Weird, is not it?

ZEIT ONLINE: You are convinced: Putin gave the order to kill Nemtsov?

Felschtinsky: Putin had Nemtsov executed by the FSB. Given all the now known facts about this calamity, there are no other credible alternatives to this conclusion.

ZEIT ONLINE: What makes you so sure?

Yuri Felschtinsky

Juri Felschtinsky, born in Moscow in 1956, studied history in Russia and the USA. The internationally known Russia expert has published numerous books on Vladimir Putin and Russia's history. Including: The Corporation: Russia and the KGB in the Age of President Putin, The KGB Plays Chess, Lev Trotsky a biography in four volumes and last World War III: The Battle for Ukraine. Felschtinsky was a co-author of the book Blowing Up Russiawhich he wrote together with Alexander Litvinenko. Blowing Up Russia was published in 20 countries, but banned in Russia. Former high-ranking FSB employee Litvinenko was poisoned with radioactive polonium in London in 2006.

Felschtinsky: Any murderer who did not cooperate with the Russian secret service would have killed Nemtsov in a different location. The people who did it don't see themselves as criminals, but as special police officers who have carried out an assignment. So they didn't care if they were being filmed by a surveillance camera or if someone saw them in action. In Russia, people know full well that Nemtsov was killed by the FSB and that Putin is behind it. They just don't mention this option because they fear for their lives.

ZEIT ONLINE: It remains incomprehensible from a German perspective. The fact that an opposition politician is shot just a few hundred meters from the Reichstag and that the Federal President or the Chancellor is responsible - that is inconceivable here.

Felschtinsky: There is a proverb. If a bird looks like a duck, if it walks like a duck, chatters like a duck, then it is very likely a duck. Anyone who annexes the Crimea and sends troops to the east of Ukraine also has an important opposition politician killed directly in Moscow. You have to leave your German perspective to understand the murders of Politkovskaya, Litvinenko, Nemtsov and many others.

ZEIT ONLINE: There is no evidence that Putin was behind the murder.

Felschtinsky: In a country like Russia, as it is governed today, you will never find evidence of this murder. Russia is a police state where everything is controlled by Putin and very few people around him. In all of the FSB's previous murders, there has never been any evidence to incriminate those behind them. Take the Litvinenko case. The British investigators can collect as much information as possible - there will be no evidence from Russia that Putin was behind the poisoning.

ZEIT ONLINE: You wrote a book with him before Litvinenko's death. Did you then think it possible that he could be killed for it?