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A March of Spring Becomes a Vigil for Opposition Unity in Russia

Tens of thousands of Russians marched in a vigil for slain Opposition hero Boris Nemtsov yesterday in central Moscow. As the 56,000 mourners placed carnations and roses at the site where the outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin was murdered on Friday night, placards reading "I am not afraid" became evident.

Nemtsov, who was to lead a March of Spring on Sunday in opposition to Putin's war in Ukraine, was shot four times in the back and killed on Friday night. In lieu of the planned protest march and as a result of Nemtsov's murder, yesterday's procession in Moscow turned out to be a vigil in honor of the Russian hero and a vigil for opposition unity across Russia, where opposition groups have become splintered and repressed under Putin's rule.

"God help us come together now," said opposition member Yuri Medovar of the Yabloko Party. "At least Boris's murder can unite us and let us realize the real enemy is in the Kremlin," he added as reported by the New York Times.

So as Russia mourns a hero - a critic of Putin's empire building agenda, Nemtsov's death could serve as a vehicle to unity among Moscow's opposition groups as a means to curbing Putin's repressive and destabilizing actions.