Mainstream media have presented Boris Nemtsov as an anti-Putin “liberal” oppositionist. In reality he was part of the oligarchy that began to emerge after the collapse of the Soviet Union, but had fallen out of grace with the main clique that took over. Here Artem Kirpichenok in St. Petersburg gives a very different point of view from within Russia.

On 18 March in front of the Duma in Moscow, Russian president Vladimir Putin delivered a defiant speech announcing the annexation of Crimea, after a referendum on Sunday had confirmed that the vast majority of the Crimean population favours the option of becoming part of the Russian Federation. Immediately after his speech the Crimean authorities signed a treaty which puts that decision into practice, which is now being ratified by Russia's Parliament while we are writing.

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