News / Europe

Freed Opposition Politician: Russia is Becoming Belarus-style Dictatorship

Russian opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, right, and Eduard Limonov, face the media in Moscow after they were released from detention, Jan 17, 2011
Russian opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, right, and Eduard Limonov, face the media in Moscow after they were released from detention, Jan 17, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Albina Kovalyova

A freed opposition politician is accusing Russian authorities of using dictatorial tactics against opposition figures. Boris Nemtsov was arrested during a government-sanctioned protest on New Year's Eve and sentenced to two weeks of imprisonment.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and now leader of the liberal, democratic Solidarnost political movement, Nemtsov is free after spending 15 days in prison.  He was among several people arrested at an officially approved demonstration December 31. That event called for freedom of assembly and is held in central Moscow on the 31st of each month.  

After his release, Nemtsov gave a joint press conference in central Moscow with fellow liberal, democratic opposition politicians. In a crammed small room packed with journalists, he said Russian authorities are becoming more like Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

He said they hate Lukashenko, since dictators generally do not like each other, but at the same time they are copying his methods.  "I think what we are witnessing now is the Lukanization of Russia," said Nemtsov.

Belarus turned violent after the presidential elections last December. When opposition politicians took to the streets, they were met with violence from the police and arrested. About 25 remain in detention and are facing up to 15 years imprisonment.

Nemtsov said he wants to see Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stripped of his power and an investigation into his activities. He also urged the West to refuse visas to top Russian officials and their relatives to encourage more respect for democracy and civil rights.

Another Solidarnost leader who was arrested in Moscow on New Year's Eve, Ilya Iashin, said such detainment of opposition politicians could have very grave consequences for Russia.

He said the lawlessness of the courts, police and bureaucrats, the harassment of the opposition, the arrests of Kremlin critics and the unchangeable power - all this is a direct route to civil war.

Human-rights organization Amnesty International also condemned the arrests and said those detained were prisoners of conscience”  

Friedirika Behr of Amnesty International in Russia said the trial of Boris Nemtsov was unfair because the judge ignored mitigating evidence. "As much as we know, information other than from police officers who detained Boris Nemtsov and other people, other information that could have shed more light on what actually happened on that evening was not taken into consideration."

Last week, Nemtsov’s defense lawyer filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights over his arrest and imprisonment.

But an expert at the Russian based Center for Political Technologies, Olga Mifodeva, believes the arrest was a mistake, not a political scheme.

"I think that this decision was random," said Mifodeva. "It was not planned beforehand. It was just when they began to suppress the demonstration, the authorities decided to arrest him."

Mifodeva thinks the arrests were a political error for the Kremlin, because it made the opposition stronger, not weaker. Nemtsov said he is not afraid of the authorities and will continue to attend demonstrations marking the freedom of assembly.




You May Like

N. Korea Sentences American to 6 Years Hard Labor

Matthew Miller's brief trial Sunday comes two weeks after 24-year old Miller and two other American detainees appealed to the US government to help free them More

Pakistan Rejects Afghan Criticism of 480-kilometer Border Trench

Military spokesman tells VOA the project is part of administrative and security measures taken to secure the mountainous border with Afghanistan More

Photogallery Typhoon Kalmaegi Makes Landfall in Philippines

Storm makes landfall late Sunday, cutting power and communications lines and forcing people to flee to higher ground More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interesti
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 12, 2014 8:35 PM
The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.
Video

Video Washington DC Mural Artists Help Beautify City

Like many cities, Washington has a graffiti problem. Buildings and homes, especially in low-income neighborhoods, are often targets of illegal artwork. But as we hear from VOA’s Julie Taboh, officials in the nation's capital have come up with an innovative program that uses the talents of local artists to beautify the city.
Video

Video Palestinians Turn to Rebuilding Gaza

After almost two months of conflict in Gaza, Palestinians are preparing to rebuild the isolated Mediterranean enclave with assistance from abroad. Meanwhile, an international human rights group has found that Israel likely violated international laws of war during some of its attacks on Gaza. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video US Muslim Leaders Condemn Islamic State

Leaders of America's Muslim community are condemning the violent extremism of the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. Muslim leaders say militants are exploiting their faith in a failed effort to justify violent extremism. VOA correspondent Meredith Buel reports.
Video

Video Middle Eastern Church Leaders Highlight Christians’ Plight

Patriarchs of Eastern Rite churches came to Washington this week to draw attention to the attacks against Christians in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere in the Middle East. VOA’s religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video Americans' Reaction Mixed on Obama Strategy for Islamic State Militants

President Barack Obama’s televised speech on how the United States plans to “degrade and destroy” the group known as the Islamic State reached a prime-time audience of millions. And it came as Americans appear more willing to embrace a bolder, tougher approach to foreign policy. VOA producer Katherine Gypson and reporter Jeff Seldin have this report from Washington.
Video

Video Authorities Allege LA Fashion Industry-Cartel Ties

U.S. officials say they have broken up crime rings that funneled tens of millions of dollars from Mexican drug cartels through fashion businesses in Los Angeles. Mike O'Sullivan reports that authorities announced nine arrests, as 1,000 law enforcement agents fanned out through the city on Wednesday.
Video

Video Bedouin Woman Runs Successful Business in Palestinian City

A Bedouin woman is breaking social taboos by running a successful vacation resort in the Palestinian town of Jericho. Bedouins are a sub-group of Arabs known for their semi-nomadic lifestyle. Zlatica Hoke says the resort in the West Bank's Jordan Valley is a model of success for women in the region.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid