In 2012, Nemtsov spoke to Foreign Policy, calling for sanctions against officials in Putin’s government for human rights violations.
That year, Putin warned during a speech that a leader of the opposition might be targeted for assassination. “They are looking for a so-called sacrificial victim among some prominent figures,” Putin said. “They will knock him off, I beg your pardon, and then blame the authorities for that.”
This was the line Putin’s creature Peskov was peddling immediately after Nemtsov was murdered, and of course it will be the primary argument made to defend Putin, attack critics, and to justify the mass targeting of the opposition. A very flexible weapon, that: useful in both defense and offense.
So interesting to know that it had been prepared in advance, ready to be whipped out at the appropriate moment.