Nemtsov Murder Unites Russian Opposition in Challenge to Kremlin

Russian opposition parties are joining forces to take on the Kremlin in regional elections, spurred on by the murder of their ally, Boris Nemtsov.

Six political parties and two other movements have united into the Democratic Coalition, which will challenge the ruling United Russia party at ballots in September, Alexey Navalny, the bloc’s most prominent leader, told a news conference Tuesday in Moscow. Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, was shot dead Feb. 27 in front of the Kremlin. A suspect is in custody.

“This act of terror has pushed all of us to act more decisively,” said Navalny, a 38-year-old anti-corruption lawyer. “We realize there will be resistance on an administrative, semi-criminal and political level.”

Russia’s opposition has been rocked by Nemtsov’s death and the conflict in Ukraine, which has helped propel President Vladimir Putin’s approval rating beyond 80 percent. Since returning to power in 2012, Putin has cracked down on civil society and sought to silence critics. Navalny has been under house arrest for months on charges he blames on the Kremlin.

The opposition alliance plans to join polls in the Novosibirsk, Kaluga and Kostroma regions, using them as a launchpad toward national power, according to Navalny. The bloc will offer alternative policies to the established parties, including its own proposals to revive the economy as it enters a recession, said Vladimir Milov, another opposition leader.

“Sooner or later we’ll get a majority, form a government and we’ll change Russia’s policies,” Navalny said.

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