Glam Miss Ukraine finalist was only witness to murder of Putin’s greatest rival

Russian leader Vladimir Putin shows zero tolerance for his opponents.

Just this week he authorised a brutal crackdown on protests against the Ukrainan invasion in the streets of Moscow.

High-profile critics such as Alexander Litvinenko and Alexei Navalny have been poisoned by Putin’s henchmen.

And Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot while walking across a bridge in Moscow not far from the Kremlin in February 2015.

He died hours after publicly expressing his support for a march against Russian aggression in Ukraine.

Officially, the crime remains unsolved.

The only witness to the shocking incident was 23-year-old Ukrainian fashion model Anna Durytska, who was Nemtsov’s girlfriend at the time.

Durytska saw little of the attack, in which Nemtsov was shot several times from a passing car.

"I don't know where [the shooter] came from, but he was behind," she said.

"I didn't see the man. I turned round and all I saw was a light-coloured car. I I didn’t have item to see the make of the car nor its license plate as it was driving away."

Still, efforts were made to ensure she didn’t testify.

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Immediately after the murder, Durytska was held under house arrest by Russian police, and Pro-Putin news agencies leaked "spicy" and "erotic lingerie photos of the former beauty queen in a bid to discredit her.

Propagada chiefs loyal to Putin also planted stories that Nemtsov had flown Durytska to a Swiss clinic for an abortion to smear their reputations.

Durytska flew to Kyiv shortly after being released by the Russian authorities, and refused to return to Moscow to answer further questions.

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Her lawyer, Vadim Prokhorov, said his client had been left "emotionally drained" by hours of questioning from the Russian authorities.

"She has given a full and exhaustive account of her last hours with Boris," Prokhorov said. "If any further investigative action is required, she has promised – something she has done publicly – that she will cooperate. The main thing is that the guilty parties be tracked down."

An official announcement from The Kremlin said that Putin was “determined” to find Nemtsov’s killer, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said publicly that the "heinous crime" would be "fully investigated."

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A fortnight after the assassination, Russian authorities arrested two men in connection with the crime.

One of them, Zaur Dadaev, confessed while in custody but later retracted his confession, claiming that he had only said he was guilty because he was being tortured.

Three more suspects were arrested around the same time and, according to Russian media reports, another suspect blew himself blew himself up with a hand grenade when Russian police forces surrounded this flat in Grozny.

One of the suspects, Anzor Gubashev, claimed that Duritskaya was herself involved in the assassination plot.

"It is clear that Duritskaya knew perfectly where to take Nemtsov at a certain time," he alleged. "Everything was planned.'

Just before his murder, Nemtsov had predicted that the deal between Putin and Chechen warlord Ramzan Kadyrov would collapse, endangering Putin’ rule.: "The contract between Kadyrov and Putin—money in exchange for loyalty—is coming to an end.

"Where will Mr Kadyrov's 20,000 men go?" he asked. "What will they demand? How will they act? When will they come to Moscow?”.

He was also a fierce critic of Russia ’s intervention in Ukraine and the 2014 annexation of the Crimean Peninsula.

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Ben Judah, author of the book Fragile Empire which analyses Putin’s régime, says that even if Putin didn’t personally authorise the killing he must have known who was responsible.

"Nothing Boris Nemtsov did was not bugged, tailed, filmed or monitored by the secret police," he wrote. "It is quite simply impossible that this man could have been shot dead without the Kremlin knowing there was a plot afoot to kill him.

Even in death, Nemstov isn’t free from harassment from Putin’s minions. Moscow police have repeatedly removed flowers placed on the former opposition leader’s grave by well-wishers.

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