Silencing the opposition

Opposition research is an accepted part of democratic battle. You learn as much as you can about your opponent – the inevitable embarrassments of youth, sexual proclivities, financial improprieties or just stuff you can twist or credibly make up to put him or her on the defensive.

Societies with fragile or fake democratic systems have a more efficient way of dealing with political opposition leaders. Lock them up or kill them.

Flowers and a portrait with the word “Fight!” are displayed Thursday in Moscow at the site near the Kremlin where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down Feb. 27.   Alexander Zemlianichenko The Associated Press

Flowers and a portrait with the word “Fight!” are displayed Thursday in Moscow at the site near the Kremlin where Boris Nemtsov, a charismatic Russian opposition leader and sharp critic of President Vladimir Putin, was gunned down Feb. 27.   Alexander Zemlianichenko The Associated Press

Boris Nemtsov is the most recent victim of this highly effective program. He was an active and outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin and once served as deputy prime minister. There is no evidence – nor will there likely ever be any evidence – to link Russia’s leadership with the assassin who pumped four bullets into Nemtsov’s back in the Kremlin’s shadow. There is plenty of evidence, however, that Putin has enabled and encouraged the corrupt conditions for such cold-blooded criminality and retribution in a paranoid Russia on war footing.   (Read more)