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Putin Says He’ll Rid Russia of ‘Shame and Tragedies’ of Political Killings

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Russian President Vladimir Putin says it is “necessary to finally rid Russia of the shame and tragedies” of political killings following the murder of former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov.

Putin’s televised remarks to the interior ministry come several days after Nemtsov was fatally shot on Friday, the BBC reports. Nemtsov had been a vocal opponent of Russia’s role in the in eastern Ukraine conflict and said he worried the president would have him killed because of his criticism. Putin’s aides have denied the Kremlin’s involvement.

“It is necessary to finally rid Russia of the shame and tragedies like the one that we lived through and saw quite recently,” Putin said. “I mean the murder, the brazen murder of Boris Nemtsov right in the center of the capital.”

The Russian President had previously called Nemtsov’s murder a “provocation,” a word that, as TIME’s Europe correspondent Simon Shuster has reported, carries more than one meaning:

To the average viewer of state-TV, Putin’s use of the term “provocation” would be enough to evoke the invisible hand of Russia’s enemies, while also hinting that the Kremlin, once provoked, could be justified in responding in unpredictable ways. Back in 1983, for instance, the Soviet Union claimed that its downing of a Korean airliner full of passengers was in fact the result of a blatant American provocation.

Putin has said he will work to bring Nemtsov’s assassins to justice. Meanwhile, Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s federal security service, told reporters curious about possible suspects Tuesday that “there are always suspects.”


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Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com