(Vatican Radio) Thousands of Russians have marched through Moscow to mark two years since opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down outside the Kremlin. Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister, was a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Listen to Stefan Bos' report
Shouting slogans including "Russia will be free!" and "Putin is war!" thousands of Russians braved winter weather to commemorate a fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin here in Moscow as well as in St Petersburg and other Russian cities.
Exactly two years ago, on February 27, 2015, Boris Nemtsov was shot in the back as he walked home from a restaurant with his Ukrainian girlfriend late at night near the Kremlin. Many people also went to lay flowers on the site on the central Moscow bridge where Nemtsov was killed.
Nemtsov, who was 55, called for "honest elections" and urged people to join a protest hours before he was murdered. "We think that in order to bring the country to order and overcome crisis important political reforms are needed," he told
Ekho Moskvy radio.
"It is necessary to carry out honest elections with the participation of the opposition," he added.
Nemtsov also said that Russia's president launched an illegal war with Ukraine, prompting Western sanctions and an economic crisis.
A trial of five Chechens who were allegedly involved in Nemtsov's murder began in October. Critics doubt that
those who ordered the killing will ever face justice.
Sunday's rally was overshadowed by an incident: Green ink was thrown into the face of Putin critic and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov while he joined the protest.
The rally in Moscow was the largest opposition gathering since a similar memorial march for Nemtsov last year. Moscow police said 5,000 attended the event but organizers put the figure in the tens of thousands.