Boris Nemtsov, well known Russian opposition politician and outspoken critic of President Putin, has been shot dead in the center of Moscow.
He was gunned down on a bridge near the Kremlin by someone inside a car who fired seven shots. Police have said he was struck four times.
It has also been reported that Nemtsov had previously received death threats on social media sites.
A law enforcement source told Interfax news agency that a white vehicle approached Nemtsov, fired seven shots with four bullets hitting the politician in the back, and sped away.
Police later said there were three white cars on the bridge during the shooting, according to footage from street cameras. Two of them were later cleared of any link to the murder. Some witnesses said the car containing the suspects was without a license plate.
In the last couple of hours before the deadly shooting, Nemtsov had dinner at a restaurant inside GUM, the famous department store on Red Square, with the woman he was with when he was shot. She was later identified by police as Ukrainian model Anna Duritskaya, 23.
According to Duritskaya, the two then went for a walk at about 23:00 Moscow time (20:00 GMT).
“Nemtsov was walking on Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge with a visitor from Ukraine. It was then when he was shot from a car that was passing by,” said the ministry’s official representative, Elena Alekseeva, as quoted by Rossiya 24 TV channel.
“The woman who was with him is currently being questioned in a police department,” Alekseeva added.
Police said they believe the murder was planned well in advance.
“Nemtsov’s route has been established. Someone apparently followed him from GUM and told the accomplices the [politician’s] location,” Tass reported citing a source.
Nemtsov’s family lawyer, Vadim Prohorov, said the politician began receiving various types of threats – including death threats – on social media sites a few months ago.