20 years under Putin: a timeline

Public screenings of Nemtsov, a documentary film by Vladimir V. Kara-Murza, have begun across Russia. The film’s Russian premiere was held in Nizhny Novgorod; screenings also took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yaroslavl, and Kazan. The documentary will be shown in other Russian cities, as well as outside Russia.


Vladimir V. Kara-Murza presents his documentary at the Yaroslavl premiere. Photo: Ilya Beskhlebny. 


The Russian premiere of Nemtsov was held in Nizhny Novgorod on November 30, on the day that marked twenty-five years since Boris Nemtsov became governor of that region.

The film’s director, Vladimir V. Kara-Murza, emphasized that it was important to him that “the first public screening in Russia be held here, in the city where Boris Nemtsov spent the best years of his life; where he is remembered to this day; and where his name will be officially commemorated in Russia for the first time.” In November, the city council voted to install a memorial plaque on the apartment building on Agronomicheskaya Street where the former governor once lived.

The film screening was attended by members of the Nizhny Novgorod Legislative Assembly and representatives of the regional government; former members of the Nemtsov administration; journalists, civic activists, and political commentators; as well as by Boris Nemtsov’s mother, Dina Yakovlevna. 

“This film is a portrait of Boris Nemtsov as he was—without the lies, the slander, the propaganda that surrounded him in recent years,” Kara-Murza, who was close to Nemtsov and worked with him for a long time, said at the premiere. “It is a portrait as seen by those who were near him when he was a young physicist and took his first steps in politics; when he held high government offices and was considered Yeltsin’s heir apparent; when he became a declared enemy of the regime.”

The documentary features interviews with people of different political views and different attitudes toward the 1990s and the current Russian government: Tatiana Yumasheva and Grigory Yavlinsky; Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Sergei Yastrzhembsky; Alexei Navalny and Oleg Sysuev; Valentin Yumashev and Viktor Aksyuchits; Strobe Talbott and Sen. John McCain, among many others.

The film recalls Boris Nemtsov’s participation in the movement against the nuclear plant in Gorky and in Soviet Russia’s first free elections; his reforms in Nizhny Novgorod; the million signatures against the war in Chechnya; conflicts with the “oligarchs;” talks over the Kurile Islands; the burial of the last Czar; his participation in the protest movement; and other chapters in a long political life. The documentary contains rare archival footage, including from the Nemtsov family.

“There is no death is this film,” Kara-Murza noted. “It is only about life.”


In December, public screenings of Nemtsov were held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Kazan, and Yaroslavl, where Boris Nemtsov was elected to the regional legislature in 2013 and where he was planning to run for the Russian parliament in 2016.

Screenings will also be held in Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, Cheboksary, Tyumen, and other Russian cities. In 2017, the film will be shown outside Russia. The editor’s cut was first presented on October 9—Boris Nemtsov’s birthday—at the first annual Nemtsov Forum in Berlin, Germany.


Nemtsov was made with support from Open Russia. The Institute of Modern Russia is preparing the English translation and subtitles for the film.