Boris Nemtsov’s daughter: Putin may be undermining EU but politicians must offer solutions

Zhanna Nemtsova, photo: CTK

A Russian top politician turned opposition leader, Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in central Moscow in 2015. Following his murder his daughter Zhanna Nemtsova moved to Germany, where she works as a journalist and runs a foundation named after her father. At the weekend Nemtsova appeared at a packed theatre at the Jihlava documentary festival as part of its Inspiration Forum talks series. Afterwards, she shared her own sources of inspiration.

Zhanna Nemtsova,  photo: CTK
“I’m a very proud daughter of my father, and he was and he is the source of my inspiration, because he wanted me to be active in my life.

“In which form was not important, but in my professional life I think that at least I met his expectations.”

I know you don’t have a crystal ball and you can’t see the future, but what do you think is the most likely way that Russia will develop, after Putin? How do you see the future in Russia?

“I cannot answer this question. It’s not a wise thing to make long-term predictions, and that’s not a quote from me but from Churchill.

“There might be a lot of different scenarios. It depends on a lot of inputs and we now don’t know a lot of things.

“It’s about speculation, and when I was on the stage I told you I wasn’t going to get into this.”

Vladimir Putin | Photo: Archive of World Economic Forum,  CC BY-SA 2.0
We hear a lot in Europe about how Russia is reportedly trying to undermine the EU and supporting anti-EU parties. Is that something that you perceive as a threat to Europe?

“First of all, I think that Putin is not as mighty a person as he is presented.

“I think he is sometimes used to justify policies that do not meet people’s expectations.

“I’m not a big specialist in this issue, but I think when you see what’s going on in Germany, I think that the success of Alternative for Germany is the result of policies that people didn’t like, including towards immigration and the flood of migrants in Germany.

“That’s the first reason for the success of populist politicians.

“You have a challenge. You have the rise of populist parties. You have to counter this challenge. You have to offer something.

Boris Nemtsov,  photo: Dhārmikatva,  CC BY-SA 3.0
“There are good examples, of France, where Macron offered something, some concept that was attractive to the voters and he won.

“That was despite the fact that Marie Le Pen was supported by Putin and this is a fact that is well-known and widely-publicised. I think the same [the failure of populists] goes for the Netherlands.

“So if you have a challenge, you can say, Oh, it’s because of Putin once again: here, here, here.

“It’s very easy to say it like this, and it might be to some extent right.

“But the second problem is what you can offer, how you can communicate with your people, how you can analyse what you did wrong and right, and how you can develop a new, attractive programme or strategy.

“And if you are successful, you will win. There’s no question about this.”