Boris Nemtsov murder: Girlfriend allowed to return to Ukraine

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Anna Durytska, 2012 file photoImage source, AP
Image caption,
Anna Durytska, a 23-year-old model, said she had known Nemtsov for three years

The Ukrainian girlfriend of murdered Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is flying home after being questioned by police in Moscow.

"Anna Durytska has just left for Kiev," Ukrainian Foreign Minister spokesman Yevhen Perebyinis said.

She was with Mr Nemtsov when he was shot dead in the Russian capital on Friday night.

Ms Durytska's lawyer earlier said she was anxious to go home temporarily to see her mother in Kiev.

But her lawyer also said that the police were "acting correctly".

Mr Perebyinis later said Ms Durytska was flying back to Ukraine after "Ukrainian diplomats in Moscow provided all the necessary assistance to our citizen".

The killing took place on Friday night on Great Moskvoretsky Bridge, near the Kremlin wall.

Mr Nemtsov, 55, had just been dining at a restaurant with Ms Durytska.

Image caption,
Supporters' slogans said Mr Nemtsov "died for the future of Russia" and "fought for a free Russia"

They left together to walk to his flat, crossing the bridge, where a car drew up and Mr Nemtsov was shot four times with a pistol at around 23:40 (20:40 GMT). Ms Durytska was not injured.

According to website, Ms Durytska phoned the police and her mother immediately after Mr Nemtsov was shot and fell.

Her mother said Anna "was holding his hand and then heard the bangs".

"Boris slumped and fell. Anya was very frightened, she started calling the police and me immediately. She said on the phone: 'Mama, Boris has been killed! He's been shot in the back, he's fallen and now he's lying beside me," Anna's mother was quoted as saying.

Image caption,
A pun on the name Boris means "fight on" at the Moscow rally, harking back to 1990s support for Boris Yeltsin

In her Dozhd TV interview, via Skype, she said the police "took a statement from me, they checked all my things, checked my phone calls, they took all the information".

The Federal Protective Service (FSO), in charge of presidential security, said its surveillance cameras did not record the shooting because they were pointed towards the Kremlin.

Opposition rally

Tens of thousands of people marched through central Moscow on Sunday to honour Mr Nemtsov.

He had been due to lead an opposition march on Sunday but his killing turned the event into a mourning rally.

Ukrainian MP Oleksiy Honcharenko, who was detained by police at the rally, has already returned to Ukraine.

Russian media reaction

The opposition march on Sunday was in the top news on Russian TV. Unusually, the main TV stations spoke highly of Boris Nemtsov, but were careful to omit his criticism of President Putin.

Dmitry Kiselev, seen as the Kremlin's chief spin doctor, described Mr Nemtsov as "charismatic" and "winningly charming". "He will be missed," he said on state-run Rossiya-1 TV.

The authoritative broadsheet Kommersant says the Kremlin suddenly changed tack on Mr Nemtsov from critical to respectful: "Such kind words were said about him which he did not hear from the authorities for a long time when he was alive."

Business daily Vedomosti speaks of a "premonition of civil war": "The regime that has gambled on hatred finds it difficult to refrain from escalating violence both abroad and at home... Russia will inevitably be different," says the paper's editorial.

"Judging by what the Western media say, attempts are being made to use this heinous crime to cast a shadow on Russia's reputation, Russia's leadership," analyst Konstantin Kostin tells the official government newspaper Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

Media roundup compiled by BBC Monitoring.

He was allowed to leave Russia after police said they had "no allegations against him".

At the weekend police searched the offices of Mr Nemtsov in the northern city of Yaroslavl, Vesti reports.

They also questioned a local parliamentary aide of Mr Nemtsov, Mikhail Konev.

A witness statement from Anna Durytska, quoted by Vesti, described the gunman as wearing jeans and a sweater, about 1.7m (5ft 7in) tall, with an average build, and close-cropped dark hair.

Mr Nemtsov's allies have accused the Kremlin of involvement, but President Vladimir Putin condemned the murder as "vile" and vowed to find the killers.

Russia's Investigative Committee said it was looking into a number of possible motives for Mr Nemtsov's murder.

They include his opposition to the Ukraine conflict, Islamic extremism - Mr Nemtsov had Jewish ancestry although he had become Orthodox Christian - and an opposition "sacrifice" of its leader to destabilise the state and undermine the president.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Mr Putin had noted "that this cruel murder has all the makings of a contract hit and is extremely provocative".

The investigators offered a reward of three million roubles ($48,000) for information leading to the killers.

Violent deaths of Putin opponents

April 2003 - Liberal politician Sergey Yushenkov assassinated near his Moscow home

July 2003 - Investigative journalist Yuri Shchekochikhin died after 16-day mysterious illness

July 2004 - Forbes magazine Russian editor Paul Klebnikov shot from moving car on Moscow street, died later in hospital

October 2006 - Investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya shot dead outside her Moscow apartment

November 2006 - Former Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko died nearly three weeks after drinking tea laced with polonium in London hotel

January 2009 - Human rights lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova shot dead in Moscow

July 2009 - Russian activist Natalia Estemirova shot dead in North Caucasus while investigating many human rights abuses in Chechnya

November 2009 - Lawyer Sergei Magnitsky dies of injuries in police custody after exposing alleged tax police corruption

March 2013 -Boris Berezovsky, former Kremlin power broker turned Putin critic, found dead in his UK home