Briefly summarized

Sabina Unni, Assistant Opinions Editor

President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is not a historical hub for humanitarian rights, but the murder of Boris Nemtsov still comes as a shock. Mr. Nemtsov, in prominent opposition to Putin’s policies, served as the deputy prime minister in the 1990s, and was planning on releasing a pamphlet about Russia’s involvement in the conflict with Ukraine before his death. Even though Putin is notorious for silencing criticism, this has been deemed the highest profile assassination in Putin’s Russia. American leaders and politicians, including President Barrack Obama, have spoken out against this apparent act of silencing critics and have promoted a transparent and clear investigation of his assassination.

Mr. Nemtsov was a politician dedicated to fearlessly opposing the injustices of the Kremlin, often standing in poorly attended protests in the rain, just to support a cause and draw attention to human suffering. As a means of diffusing blame, there have been countless rumors spreading about the reasons for his death, including a claim that his own opposition party killed him. There have also been rumors of Islamic extremists and Ukrainian separatists committing the murder. This is similar to a Soviet style tactic in which officials spread rumors in order to confuse civilians and distract from the larger perpetrator.

That being said, it’s not hard to forget that on Feb. 20, a week before his death, he called Putin a “pathological liar” and provided unwavering criticism of the president.

To members of Parliament and government officials, this ushers in a new era of fear. Duma member Gennady Gudkov tweeted, “Mr. Nemtsov is dead. Who is next?”

In comparison to the events in the previous month, I ask myself, is this the year of censorship? It is barely March, and journalists Kenji Goto, Randa George, Dalia Marko, Musa Muhamed, Boutros Martin, Adam Juma, Bernard Maris, Georges Wolinski, Jean Cabut, Stephane Charbonnier, Bernard Verlhac, Elsa Cayat, Moustapha Ourrad, Philippe Honoré, Khaled al- Washli, and José Moisés Sánchez Cerezo were killed in Syria, South Sudan, France, Yemen, and Mexico.

The problems with censorship should not be trivialized—the Interview’s condemnation by hackers is merely the tip of the iceberg. The prevention of the spread of ideas and the centralization of one point of view is very harmful. Think of your least favorite politician or writer. If he or she had the sole ability to control information, what would happen? What if facts being presented were wrong?

Understanding what goes on, in government, in society, in our foreign affairs, is key to living in a critical world. I really want to live in a critical world, where we have the ability to criticize our government and aspects of life, and equally where we can provide others information to do so. The death of Boris Nemtsov should stand as a reminder; a reminder of the dangers of censorship, but simultaneously a reminder of how lucky we are to live in a country where we can be critical.