Former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev has expressed confidence that Friday night's assassination in the center of Moscow of opposition politician Boris Nemtsov is a scheme to "provoke aggravation, and maybe even destabilization, of the situation in the country, increase the confrontation."
"It's hard to say now which side is responsible for this. One mustn't hurry with conclusions and must make a careful investigation," Gorbachev told Interfax.
Asked whether he believed Nemtsov's murder was likely to provoke the government into emergency measures, Gorbachev said that was a scenario he couldn't rule out. "But taking the route of solutions based on reprisals would exacerbate the situation in the country even more," he said.
Asked if he thought anti-Russian forces abroad might exploit the crime in pursuit of their own ends, he argued this would definitely happen.
"Of course, certain forces will try to take advantage of this crime for their own ends - all of them are thinking how to get rid of Putin, aren't they? But I don't think, after all, that the West will go as far as that, that it will use that crime to attain its own purposes. However, that was unquestionably the goal of the criminals who murdered Boris," he said.
"Crimes of this kind are taken on by executors who are hard to find. All efforts must be made to find the criminals," the ex-president said.
"This crime affects everyone's feelings. Boris did have some controversial traits to his character, of course, but he was a man of integrity. I'm distressed," Gorbachev said.