.
.
.
.

World leaders condemn murder of Russia’s Boris Nemtsov

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the murder bore "the hallmarks of a contract killing"

Published: Updated:

U.S. President Barack Obama on Friday led condemnation of the "brutal" and "vicious murder" of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, whom he had met on a visit to Moscow, and called on Moscow to conduct an impartial probe.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the murder bore "the hallmarks of a contract killing" and described it as a provocation.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Saturday also condemned the "cowardly murder" of and called on Putin to bring the killers to justice.

Merkel demanded that Putin "assure himself that this assassination is elucidated and that its perpetrators are held accountable," the chancellor's office said in a statement.

Meanwhile, French President Francois Hollande also slammed the murder of Nemtsov, calling him a "defender of democracy".

In the first European reaction after the 55-year-old former deputy prime minister was gunned down in Moscow late Friday, Hollande called it a "hateful murder".

The outspoken critic of Russia's involvement in Ukraine was "a courageous and tireless defender of democracy who was committed to the fight against corruption," the president's office said in a statement.

Nemtsov was shot dead in central Moscow overnight on Friday, the Russian government confirmed, according to Interfax news agency.

At least seven shots were fired at Nemtsov from a car passing by, a Russian investigative committee spokesman was quoted by Interfax.

The agency also quoted a source as saying the opposition leader's killing "appears to be contract killing."