Pro-Kremlin Activists Trash Memorial to Murdered Opposition Leader Nemtsov

A framed photograph of Boris Nemtsov smashed by vandals.

Activists from a pro-Kremlin movement have trashed a makeshift memorial to opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was shot dead as he crossed Moscow's Bolshoi Moskvoretsky Bridge last month.

The vandals pasted notes denouncing Nemtsov as a "traitor," and spray-painted and smashed a sign reading "Nemtsov Bridge" that supporters had placed on the site of his murder, according to photographs of Tuesday's raid posted online by activists from the fringe pro-Kremlin group SERB.

Other notes left during the raid carried crude insults against Nemtsov and calls for Russians to stop honoring him. A framed photographs of Nemtsov was also smashed in the attack, according to a photo published by Twitter user Anastasia Zvotova.

The raid was part of the SERB's intention to "always fight traitors to Russia in all of its manifestations," said one activist, who identified himself as Gosha Tarasevich, in a VKontakte social network post.

Nemtsov supporters cleaned up the damage within a few hours to remove the "filth," opposition activist Mark Galperin said late Tuesday in a Facebook post.

"Borya [Nemtsov], you have not died, you continue even from the grave to fight along with us against the [rot] that has seized the country," he added.

Russians remain largely divided into a majority  whose support for the Kremlin soared after last year's annexation of Crimea, according to polls  and a much smaller minority who criticize government actions.

Those who express their criticism publicly are routinely labeled as "traitors" in official speeches and state-run television reports — a rhetoric that Nemtsov's supporters hold partially responsible for his death, regardless of the specific individuals who organized or committed the murder.

The assault on the makeshift memorial to Nemtsov came just days after his supporters gathered last Saturday to refresh and water bouquets of flowers left on the bridge, light new candles, and clean up rubbish.

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