Boris Nemtsov’s girlfriend has broken her public silence on the murder of the Russian opposition activist, saying she did not see the killer who gunned him down as they strolled across a bridge near the Kremlin.
Speaking largely without emotion in deadened monosyllables, Ukrainian fashion model Anna Duritskaya said she had little recollection of what happened in the moments after Nemtsov was shot dead on Friday night.
She told online news channel Dozhd that she had not noticed anything suspicious as the couple dined at a restaurant overlooking Red Square. It had not occurred to her that someone might be following them as they headed across the river towards Nemtsov’s apartment.
“I don’t want to answer questions about what happened on the bridge. I don’t want to talk about this,” she said.
“I am in a very difficult psychological condition and I cannot talk about this any more now. I feel bad … I saw no one. I don’t know where he came from, he was behind my back,” she said of the killer or killers.
Nemtsov, 55, was shot several times and killed instantly, becoming the most prominent opposition figure to be murdered during President Vladimir Putin’s 15-year rule. Tens of thousands of Russians marched through Moscow on Sunday to honour the former deputy prime minister and anti-corruption fighter.
Duritskaya, who is 23 or 24, said she had been under constant guard since the murder and would probably be unable to attend Nemtsov’s funeral on Tuesday. All she wanted to do was to go home to her mother in Ukraine.
“I have every right to leave the territory of the Russian Federation. I am not a suspect. I am a witness who gave full testimony and did everything possible to assist the investigation,” she said.
“They are physically not allowing me to go anywhere without them,” Duritskaya said, referring to law enforcement officials. “They have explained to me that this is for security reasons.”
Questioned without lawyer
Nemtsov, an opposition politician whose murder has deepened a divide between liberals and Putin supporters, will be buried on Tuesday at the Troekurovskoye cemetery in western Moscow, far from where Russia’s top politicians are usually buried.
“I cannot go out. Most likely I will not go,” Duritskaya said when asked if she would attend. She said she was now staying at a friend’s apartment in Moscow.
Investigators had questioned her several times, gone through her belongings and taken data from her mobile phones. She said she was initially questioned for several hours without a lawyer or representative from the Ukrainian embassy.
Nemtsov had criticized Putin’s annexation of Crimea and his support for pro-Russian separatists in the east of Ukraine. He and Duritskaya had been dating for three years, she said.
The investigators say they are following several lines of inquiry and have come up with a number of possible motives. One is that Nemtsov may have been the victim of a jealous former lover, a version Duritskaya ruled out.
“I don’t think anything. I cannot think at the moment. I don’t know who did it,” she said.