Russian Language Blog

High-Profile Political Assassinations in Russia Posted by on Mar 2, 2015 in News

The news of Boris Nemtsov’s (Бори́с Немцо́вnot BAWris NEMtsov) murder has shocked the Russian Internet. The former deputy premier was walking home from a Red Square restaurant when he was shot dead by an unidentified assailant.

The perpetrators are unknown, with theories ranging from the usual suspect — the current government (прави́тельство) — to external provocateurs (провока́торы) to disgruntled business partners (деловы́е партнёры). An opposition march (ше́ствие) that Nemtsov was helping organize was canceled, and a memorial march was held instead. I will let the readers make up their own minds about “whodunit” and invite you to look at some of the most famous political assassinations in Russia.

Alexander II

Emperor Alexander II of Russia is remembered domestically for freeing the serfs (отме́на крепостно́го пра́ва) and internationally for cracking down on Polish independence. Alexander II survived multiple assassination attempts before members of the Narodnaya Volya (Наро́дная во́ля) terrorist organization succeeded in carrying through a lethal bombing plot.

Leon Trotsky

Leon Trotsky (Лев Тро́цкий) was the once-prominent member of the Bolshevik party and a statesman in the USSR’s first years. He was eventually ousted from power by his fellow partymen and expelled from the country. He ended up settling in Mexico, where he was assassinated on Stalin’s orders.

Anna Politkovskaya

Anna Politkovskaya (А́нна Политко́вская) was a journalist famous for criticizing Putin’s regime and the war in Chechnya. She gained fame for exposing government corruption in the 2000s and abuses by the military in Chechnya. Politkovskaya was found dead in the elevator of her apartment building, having been shot multiple times. The murder remains unsolved.

This list could, unfortunately, be expanded with many other names. Do any other stories come to mind?

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About the Author: Maria

Maria is a Russian-born translator from Western New York. She is excited to share her fascination with all things Russian on this blog. Maria's professional updates are available in English on her website and Twitter and in Russian on Telegram.


  1. Y. Kretinov:

    Kirov comes to mind as an opaquely obvious example.

    • Maria:

      @Y. Kretinov Ha, right. I feel like a lot of Soviet statespeople died under mysterious/suspicious circumstances.

  2. Mark Sowul:

    At least St. Petersburg got a nice monument out of the assasination of Alexander II! (Спас на крови / Church on Spilt Blood)