A little more than a day after the killing of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov, very little is known about the reasons for his murder. Online and in the news, in Russia and across the world, most liberal voices have one way or another blamed the Kremlin for Nemtsov's homicide.

The two most popular theories to emerge seem to be that Russia's authorities either sanctioned the assassination outright, or they cultivated an "atmosphere of hatred" (with demonstrations and news propaganda) that led inevitably to someone killing a high-profile critic of the government. As with the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over eastern Ukraine, many are holding Vladimir Putin personally responsible for the murder.
nemtzov murder
nemtzov murder
With these narratives now dominating much of the commentary about Nemtsov's tragic death, RuNet Echo reached out to three "patriotic" Russian bloggers known for their criticisms of the liberal opposition, asking them to respond to accusations that the Kremlin is somehow culpable for the murder. These individuals' views are significant in a country where an overwhelming majority of the people do not identify with the liberal opposition. As it grows increasingly popular outside Russia to dismiss Russians' political attitudes as "Kremlin brainwashing," it becomes more important than ever to stop and listen.

@Politrash (Stanislav Apetyan)
In my view, it's pretty obvious that the authorities needed Nemtsov's death least of all. The only people who had anything to gain from his death are the forces bent on destabilizing the situation in Russia. I put no stock whatsoever in theories that the killers were some group of crazy [anti-opposition] activists who failed to understand Nemtsov's true weight in Russian politics. I think it's extraordinarily cynical and more than a little crass how some opposition groups (like those under Khodorkovsky's control) are now trying to use Nemtsov's murder as a political instrument.

Hatred hardly has anything to do with the reasons for this murder, but if you want to talk about hatred, know that almost everyone blaming it now has a very short memory (if it's possible to say they remember anything at all). All these recent years, all they've done is try to build up in society this very hatred. Oleg Kashin even penned a bona fide monument to hatred with an article titled Learning to Hate [in 2013]. I won't even get into Alexey Navalny's memorable line, "I'll chew through the throats of those swine!" When [liberals] talk about hatred, it's not even funny; it's just surreal
First of all, whatever one thinks of Nemtsov, murder is wrong, and, objectively speaking, it harms the authorities and society alike. Nemtsov was a predictable, familiar politician, who didn't threaten anyone politically. He wasn't rising any higher than his seat in the [Yaroslavl] regional parliament. It's telling that—just minutes after news of this tragedy—opportunists like [Leonid] Volkov [a close ally of opposition leader Alexey Navalny] started with their PR almost immediately, looking for ways to exploit the death of their late colleague. They were on this literally minutes after the story broke. Compared with today's oppositionists, Nemtsov's older associates from SPS [his old political party], [Boris] Nadezhdin and [Irina] Khakamada, conducted themselves quite respectfully, simply calling on people to honor his memory.

Liberal society will never recognize that the authorities aren't guilty of this murder—it's not in their interests. The liberals need a new icon for their protests. Everyone's forgotten [slain journalist Anna] Politkovskaya; Khodorkovsky has been pardoned; Pussy Riot is out of prison and nobody wants them except the West; half of the riot suspects from the May 6, 2012, case have been amnestied; [leftist activist Sergey] Udaltsov doesn't make a good icon because he's not one of theirs (he's not a liberal); they still can't manage to keep Navalny in prison; and so now they'll make their "flag" out of Nemtsov.

When it comes to inciting hatred, liberal society is more to blame than anyone. Hate breeds hate. In recent years, they've openly declared, "I'll chew through the throats of those swine!" and "When we come to power, we'll hang the lot of them!" On their social media accounts, liberals are constantly wishing death and disease on their opponents, writing op-eds about the joys of "learning how to hate." And now they complain about inciting hatred and blame it all on [Kremlin] propaganda. For far better propaganda, have a look at their social media pages and just see how they hate you.

See how they don't identify with the people at all. They're an anti-people, hating what most Russians value and hold dear. This is a kind of hatred on public display. Talk about inciting people with hate speech!
When it comes to the authorities' culpability for this murder, of course there's only one response: it's obvious nonsense that not even every oppositionist is willing to argue. I'd like to see them show me just one person in power who benefits from this murder. And the motive is also completely incomprehensible: Nemtsov had been saying the same things for the last ten years, and suddenly it became intolerable to the authorities and necessary to get rid of him? This, of course, is a wonderful theory if you're an impressionable liberal in your freshman or sophomore year at college, but the only people who would argue this seriously are those who don't value their own reputation (or they already have a reputation for being hysterical).

Blaming rhetoric about "the fifth column" and the Anti-Maidan movement has somehow and very suddenly become the dominant narrative among our liberals (as well as with former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul). Its advantage is that it doesn't accuse the authorities of direct involvement in the murder (so it doesn't alienate every last sane person), but it also promotes the idea that the murder was in fact political and likely the work of patriots. For liberals, this version of events is very convenient, if not ideal, in today's circumstances. Personally, I'm not inclined to take seriously the idea that a group of people overdosed on [conservative TV personality] Dmitry Kiselyov and went out and killed a critic of the government. This kind of thinking is like something out of one of those grisly movies about Russia made for film festivals in the West. Moreover, the rhetoric of certain liberals and their supporters is much more aggressive than anything you'll hear from Kiselyov (for example, see Navalny's "I'll chew through the throats of those swine!"), and you don't see them going on shooting sprees.